Toto Wolff admits Mercedes may have to consider using Valtteri Bottas to aid Formula 1 teammate Lewis Hamilton’s title bid in the near-future.

Mercedes has been keen to ensure both Hamilton and Bottas have an equal chance of success this season and has allowed its drivers to race freely for much of the year, though it did use team orders in the closing stages of the German Grand Prix to protect a one-two finish on home soil.

While Wolff insists such a move goes against his “racing instinct”, the closeness of the 2018 championship battle between Mercedes and Ferrari could prompt the German manufacturer to use Bottas in a supporting role.

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When asked if he felt it was time for Bottas - who sits 87 points behind championship leader Hamilton - to start playing a supporting role to Hamilton, Wolff replied: “I hate to do that.

“It’s completely against my racing instinct. We try to be very neutral to both drivers. We haven’t done it. We haven’t done it yet. We haven’t discussed it.”

A pair of surprise wins handed Hamilton a 24-point lead heading into the summer break, but chief title rival Sebastian Vettel reduced the gap to 17 points after he breezed past Hamilton on his way to claiming a convincing win at last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.

Wolff said Mercedes will re-assess the situation following this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, but stressed the team owes it to both drivers and the best interests of the sport not to get involved.

“Let’s see how Monza pans out and how it goes,” he added. “Then we will address the question as to whether we need to put all force behind one driver.

“But at the moment, we owe it to the two men and to Formula 1 to not interfere into the race.”

Wolff caused a stir at the Hungarian Grand Prix and upset Bottas when referring to the Finn as a “sensational wingman” after he played a key role in helping Hamilton secure victory by holding up Vettel at a crucial stage of the race.

 

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