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Mercedes open to Hamilton/Bottas team orders rethink

Toto Wolff admits the Mercedes Formula 1 team is keeping its options open on team orders given Ferrari's focus on world championship leader Sebastian Vettel

Mercedes has always operated a policy of not favouring one driver over the other, especially when both are in contention for the title, as is the case with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in 2017.

But situations such as Hungary - where Bottas let Hamilton past and the positions were later reversed after Hamilton failed to pass Kimi Raikkonen, who was protecting Vettel's lead - have led Mercedes to consider a rethink.

Hamilton's Hungary chivalry will delight Ferrari

"It's something we have given a lot of thought to over the last couple of weeks," said Wolff.

"And the answer is we would like to keep our options open, because you cannot plan for all scenarios, it always comes differently than you expect.

"Ferrari is in the beneficial situation that Vettel is very much in front points-wise, and it's clear that Kimi is going to back him.

"It hasn't been part of our philosophy in the past couple of years, but we will be looking at each and every situation during the race, and what it means for the drivers' championship, and the constructors' championship."

Drivers' standings

Pos Driver Points
1 Sebastian Vettel 202
2 Lewis Hamilton 188
3 Valtteri Bottas 169
4 Daniel Ricciardo 117
5 Kimi Raikkonen 116

Bottas has struggled to match Hamilton at Spa this weekend, ending up 0.541 seconds adrift in qualifying.

"What he was suffering from was a general lack of grip, that was the main message," said Wolff.

"And you could see it was not one particular corner, it was tiny bits everywhere in sector two. We need to find out what that is.

"On the other side we have a driver that has has an exceptional day, and is an exceptional frame of mind."

Spa was tipped as a track that would favour Mercedes, but Vettel managed to split Hamilton and Bottas on the Belgian Grand Prix grid with a lap just 0.242 seconds off the pace.

"We've not been surprised, because they're pushing very hard," said Wolff of Ferrari.

"It's a reminder again that you need to continue to just leave no stone unturned.

"I don't know what the real gap would have been in qualifying, but as a matter of fact Lewis drove a brilliant lap.

"Seb had a bit of a tow at the end, which is maybe a tenth or two. So the gap could have been four or five tenths.

"But considering it was an exceptional lap it's still something which keeps us on our toes, because we know there are tracks where we had deficits in the past and one of these tracks [Singapore] comes soon.

"So this is where we need to be strong, and improve the car, understand the car, and perform well.

"I think it will be pretty exciting because all four drivers have a car underneath that is capable of winning the race."

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