Max Verstappen had looked favourite for pole position after dominating the weekend up until qualifying, but Mercedes upstaged Red Bull in Q3 as Valtteri Bottas led a surprise 1-2 ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton is 12 points behind Red Bull’s championship leader Verstappen, who will start just behind him on the grid in third.

With just five races remaining and every point crucial in the final outcome of this year’s title fight, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff admitted his side may resort to asking Bottas to give up a potential win if finds himself leading Hamilton in the race. 

But first, the Mercedes pair will have the task of fending off the attacking Red Bulls of Verstappen and Sergio Perez, both of whom will benefit from the tow down the long drag to Turn 1. 

“Most important is to stay ahead at the start,” Wolff said. “From there, it is easier to manage the race.” 

Asked if the prospect of team orders had been discussed, Wolff replied: “No, we haven’t discussed, because we felt that we were not in a position to consider to talk about, it would have been such a long shot, talking about the victory before qualifying. 

“Obviously the situation is different now, and we are going to address it tomorrow morning, like we always do in the strategy meeting.” 

Wolff has made it clear he does not like team orders but is fully aware Hamilton needs every point possible in his championship battle against Verstappen. 

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"I’m a racer, and I feel that such discussion is something that is always just disappointing in a way, but sometimes the circumstances oblige that,” he explained.

“But we will address it and discuss it first with Valtteri and Lewis, because they’re both involved in such discussion, and then see whether the race scenario actually obliges us to make any such call.” 

Bottas hopes to find himself in a position to win but said he is ready to play the team game and support Hamilton’s title bid if needed. 

"You never know what the race situation will be,” the Finn said. “I still am 100 per cent sure that there could be a circumstance where I could still win the race and I believe in that and I hope for that.

"But if not then I will support Lewis and get the maximum points for us as a team."

Meanwhile, Hamilton said he will look to work together with Bottas at the start in order to try and keep both Red Bull cars behind them. 

"Track position is pretty important here so we’ll work as a team to battle that and try and keep it,” the seven-time world champion said. 

"Obviously in Russia there’s a lot more drag and tow effect, here there’s less, obviously still is a tow effect. 

“We’ll work as a team to try and hold a 1-2 for the team.”