Lewis Hamilton believes it is “vital” he and Mercedes Formula 1 teammate Valtteri Bottas maintain respect and work together in the wake of Ferrari’s intra-team controversy at the Russian Grand Prix. 

The latest flashpoint between Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc occurred in Sochi when the German ignored instructions from his team to hand back the lead of the race to Leclerc, after his younger teammate had stuck to a pre-race agreement to tow Vettel at the start. 

Leclerc ultimately jumped Vettel during the pitstop window before the four-time world champion retired with an MGU-K, prompting a Virtual Safety Car period that gifted Mercedes a 1-2 finish as Hamilton claimed his ninth win of the season.

Speaking about the importance of having trust between both drivers in the team, Hamilton said: “I mean we work together, so it’s about having respect. And I think the respect has been there since day one. 

“We talk about the scenarios very openly. Valtteri has always been respectful in all those scenarios and I think it’s vital that we’re both acting accordingly, which we do, I think.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said he can sympathise with the task faced by Ferrari chief Mattia Binotto of having to manage two top-level drivers. 

“It shows a few things, it’s very difficult to manage drivers that have the aspiration of winning the race, and we have had that in the past, and we still have it,” Wolff added. 

“We still have to discuss all the scenarios, and be aware of how the driver functions and respect it.” 

Asked if he feels Ferrari’s intra-team dramas are something Mercedes can take advantage of, Wolff replied: “I think that hasn’t won us the race, it’s a sidestory. 

“But of course it was an additional endgame that needs to be covered from the management side.” 

 

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