Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has repeated his intention to keep using team orders if required until the Formula 1 world drivers’ title is secured this season.

Lewis Hamilton has his first opportunity to seal a fifth F1 world championship starting from pole position at the United States Grand Prix with chief title rival Sebastian Vettel down in fifth place on the grid following a three-place drop for speeding under a red flag in FP1.

The British driver will seal the title if he outscores Vettel by eight points at Circuit of the Americas, meaning a victory coupled with the German failing to finish second can secure him a historic crown to match Juan Manuel Fangio’s F1 record.

Having seen Hamilton profit from team orders to take victory at the Russian round at the expense of Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes boss Wolff says the Finn has a clear race strategy of getting ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, with the Ferrari driver starting ahead of him on the front row alongside Hamilton, but wouldn’t rule out the prospect of team orders returning.


“The objective for Valtteri is to really go for it at the beginning,” Wolff said. “He doesn’t have a lot to lose, and show a strong race, but if at the end we find ourselves in a situation where we, again, need to evaluate the points, we’ll do that. I don’t want to commit to say now whether or what we’ll be doing.”

Wolff also talked down the assumption the 2018 F1 crown was Hamilton’s despite taking a 67-point advantage into the US race and takes nothing for granted until both titles are secured.

“For a few days you guys have been talking us up, this is almost done, he has a hand on the trophy,” Wolff said. “You either have the trophy in your hands, or you don’t. And we don’t.

“I know from the points point of view we’re looking solid but everything can happen in this sport. Ferrari has come back strong, it’s what we expected, and that’s why I’d like to keep all options open.”

Mercedes also holds a 78-point lead in the F1 world constructors’ championship ahead of the US race but mathematically cannot seal the teams’ crown this weekend.