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.
Defending champion Rafael Nadal swept past Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 to advance to his first final on clay this season at the Italian Open on Saturday. The eight-time Rome winner had been stunned by Tsitsipas, seeded eighth, in the semi-finals at the Madrid Open last weekend.
Franck Ribery hailed a “special” moment as he and Arjen Robben both scored in their final game at the Allianz Arena on Saturday to wrap up a 5-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt and a seventh successive Bundesliga title. “It was a special moment, but also a difficult one,” Ribery told Sky.
Ben Stokes’s unbeaten 71 rescued England from a top-order collapse as the World Cup hosts and favourites beat Pakistan by three wickets with three balls to spare at Trent Bridge. Friday’s win in a floodlit match saw England secure the series at 3-0 up with one to play, but it was far from routine.
Defending champion Brooks Koepka completed the lowest 36-hole showing in major golf history on Friday to seize a record seven-stroke lead after two rounds of the PGA Championship while Tiger Woods missed the cut. Third-ranked Koepka, a runaway favorite to capture his fourth major title on Sunday,