Mercedes admits it could regret Hamilton/Bottas Hungarian GP swap

Mercedes admits it could regret Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas's Hungarian Grand Prix place swap if it ultimately costs it the 2017 Formula 1 championship, but stands by its decision

Mercedes admits it could regret Hamilton/Bottas Hungarian GP swap

Hamilton kept a promise to return third place to Bottas on the final lap at the Hungaroring, having earlier been released to see if he could challenge the Ferraris ahead.

Though Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff agreed with Hamilton's admission that the three points lost could haunt him if he loses the championship by a small margin, he thinks safeguarding a strong team spirit will reap much bigger rewards in the future.

"Saying I wouldn't regret the decision would be very naive," said Wolff about the possibility of the swap costing Mercedes the title.

"The truth is that if we miss out on the championship by those two or three points, everybody would say it is because of Budapest. And I would be the first to shoot myself in the knee.

"Nevertheless, I think long term, standing by what you say and standing by your values, is going to make us win more championships.

"It was a tough call to make and a very difficult one. Believe me, it is probably the most difficult call we had to make in the last five years, because we were not sure how close Max [Verstappen] would come at the end.

"So I am not in a happy place at the moment. But what can I say? If you are not fast enough at least you are sportsmanlike."

Wolff appeared quite emotional after the strain of the race, and was seen triumphantly banging his fist on a table when Hamilton did go through with letting Bottas past at the last corner.

While other teams - including Mercedes' 2017 title rival Ferrari - have historically been ruthless in throwing their weight behind one driver, Wolff says that is not an approach Mercedes supports.

"We don't drive in circles because we enjoy it so much," he said.

"We drive in circles because we hope that it promotes our brand and makes us sell cars, and it is a very long term project.

"We have seen the backlash of decisions that were ruthless and cold blooded and the effect it had on the brand. You could say 'screw it, it still won them the championships, who cares? They are down in the history books'.

"But if I come back to what I think, what the purpose of us being here is, it is doing the right thing and winning in the right way.

"And sometimes doing it the right way and standing by your values is very tough. And it was today. I feel terrible."

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