“No” – Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff shot down speculation Valtteri Bottas was sacrificed to allow Lewis Hamilton a chance to win pole in the Azerbaijan GP.
In a Red Flag-heavy Azerbaijan GP qualifying, Lewis Hamilton secured a front row start alongside pole winner Charles Leclerc. What helped Hamilton was a strategy by Mercedes which involved Valtteri Bottas helping him with slipstream. When asked if this compromised Bottas’ race, team boss Toto Wolff responded in the negative.
“Since the beginning of the joint journey [with] Valtteri and Lewis, we have tossed a coin who would have the choice to decide if they were running first or second. This weekend it was Lewis’ turn to choose if he ran first or second on the road. He chose second obviously.
“So this is the same system. It alternates from race to race between the drivers.”
Catching up with the Boss after THAT Quali! 👏 pic.twitter.com/8VyZKGxsiJ
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) June 5, 2021
Mercedes improved drastically from Friday
Mercedes struggled all throughout practice in Baku, with Red Bull and Ferrari dominating proceedings. But they found a lot of their pace in qualifying, something Wolff explained was a result of good, solid homework.
“In FP3 we worked through some really thorough engineering programmes and we were not shy of trying extreme things which at the end were as extreme as we had expected and weren’t a silver bullet.
“But it was just really crunching through the numbers, trying things, getting the feedback of the drivers and eventually we had the car in a more decent place.
“So it was the last run in FP3 where we tried to confirm the step and the car was there or thereabouts.”