Mercedes’ Bottas celebrates winning the race with second placed Hamilton. Anton Vaganov/Reuters
Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff has confirmed that the victorious Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton are free to fight for success without the restraints of team orders, as they showed in their scrap to win the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
The pair battled wheel to wheel on the opening lap on Sunday and were fighting hard again in the closing stages when defending champion Hamilton put Bottas under pressure as they closed out an unprecedented fourth consecutive season-opening one-two triumph.
In contrast to Ferrari, where team orders have been used frequently this season, Mercedes have handed responsibility to the drivers and not felt any need to ask them to hold positions.
"We let them race," said Wolff. "They are experienced. They know that the racing must be clean. Lap one was very clean -- and this is a track where we mustn't take crazy risks because you could lose both cars.
"When we talk to them, it's always open and everyone can hear them, but then, obviously, you have the intercom too which is only an internal line.
"But I was not talking to the drivers. If I push the driver button, I know it myself -- so I am not giving myself permission to talk to them because I get emotional and then, sometimes, regret what I say."
Instead, said Wolff, his pit-wall team hold a discussion about their strategy and how the race is unfolding.
"We acknowledged that it could get a little bit racy at the end, but we didn't talk to them."
A second grand prix — most likely on the streets — would complement the existing one on the $450 million Shanghai International Circuit. No country currently has two Formula One races, although F1 officials are negotiating for a second grand prix in the United States.
Lewis Hamilton said that he “redeemed” himself with a lightning start to win the 1,000th Formula One grand prix on Sunday in a blustery Shanghai.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc is gunning for his first win this week in China after cruelly missing out in Bahrain as Formula One’s 1,000th race coincides with the emergence of a bright new star.
The Argentine gave Courtois no chance with a shot on his left foot from 20 yards out that arrowed into the corner.
An unbeaten half-century from skipper Virat Kohli and disciplined bowling helped India beat South Africa by seven wickets in the second Twenty20 international on Wednesday.