Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says the decision to swap Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas back on the final lap of the Hungarian Grand Prix was “probably the most difficult call” he has had to make, but definitely the “right one” despite the potential title implications.
Hamilton slowed right at the end to allow Bottas back into third position after the Finn had let him by earlier in the race so he could chase down the Ferraris ahead, with eventual winner Sebastian Vettel struggling with a steering issue.
Hamilton, however, was unable to get by Kimi Raikkonen and in the final corner honoured the agreement to give the position back to Bottas – a situation that means he now goes into the summer break 14 points behind Vettel, instead of 11.
Wolff conceded it might now cost them the Drivers’ title, given Hamilton is Vettel’s closest Championship challenger – and 19 points up on Bottas in P3 in the standings.
Asked if he could regret it, if Hamilton loses out by 3 points at the end of the year, Wolff told the official F1 site: “Saying that I wouldn’t regret the decision would be very naive. The truth is that if you miss out the championship by those three points everybody would point the finger to Budapest. Then I would be the first one to shoot myself in the knee – and all of us!
“Nevertheless, in the long term standing by our principles and values will make us win more championships, that is what I believe.
“Yes, it was a tough call to make, and probably the most difficult that we had to make in the last five years, but it was the right one in terms of our values. We want to do it the right way. And that is sometimes very tough.”
Hamilton also defended the decision and said it showed he was a man of his word and a team player.
“I kept my word. I said that if I couldn’t pass Kimi then I would let Valtteri back. I have said through this year that I want to win this title in the right way – and perhaps I will look at it in a different way if, at the end of the season, I lose out by a small margin – but I believe in doing the right thing and that when you put good things out there, they come back to you,” he reasoned.
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 30, 2017