Gloves are off in F1 free-for-all for Bottas, Hamilton - GulfToday

Gloves are off in F1 free-for-all for Bottas, Hamilton

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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."

Agence France-Presse

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