F1 Raceweek: Bottas willing to help Hamilton in title pursuit
Toto Wolff said ordering Valtteri Bottas to move aside for Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton at the Russian Grand Prix was a "struggle between our head and our heart".
The head won out and if denying Bottas a maiden race win of the year ultimately ensures Hamilton secures a fifth world championship, Mercedes and team principal Wolff will feel vindicated.
Hamilton, whose lead over Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel in the standings is now 50 points heading into the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend, said he was "the most conflicted I have ever been" after taking the chequered flag in Sochi in such a manner.
Yet Wolff simply saw it as a necessary evil that Bottas knows they may need to replicate in the final five races.
"Valtteri was willing to sacrifice his win in Sochi to help protect our one-two and extend our lead in both championships - and he said he'd be prepared to do the same again tomorrow," Wolff said.
"It wasn't an easy call to make even though it was the right one for the points situation. I think every one of us was facing this struggle between our head and our heart on Sunday.
"Each call has its own context and we may face more tough moments before the year is over."
Ultimately Hamilton, who was won the Japanese Grand Prix in three of the past four years, can ensure such controversy does not surround him at the Suzuka Circuit by finishing first without a helping hand.
Proud of our team for a 1-2 here in Russia. I always want to win in the right way and want to acknowledge Valtteri. He did an incredible job this weekend and the team made a tough decision. We have to embrace the moment still and we move forward to Japan @MercedesAMGF1 #RussianGP pic.twitter.com/fR0irA7XLQ— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) September 30, 2018
Four better than three?
It appears Formula 1 officials are considering the notion of altering qualifying to ensure there are four sessions rather than three.
Ross Brawn, F1's managing director for motorsport, revealed a four-part idea with shorter segments had been raised at a recent meeting and would continue to be mulled over.
"No agreement was reached on introducing it for 2019 but the seeds of discussion were planted, now we have to make sure they grow well," Brawn said.
A revamp of the current system has been brought into sharper focus following qualifying in Russia.
Five drivers did not take part in the second phase in Sochi, with three, including the Red Bulls, going to the back of the grid due to penalties, and the two Renaults therefore having no incentive to beat them.
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 306
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 256 (-50)
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 189 (-117)
4. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 186 (-120)
5. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 158 (-148)
1. Mercedes 495
2. Ferrari 442 (-53)
3. Red Bull 292 (-203)
4. Renault 91 (-404)
5. Haas 80 (-415)
RACEWEEK SCHEDULE (all times local)
This race holds special memories for Vettel as it was here that he secured his second world championship in 2011 with a third-placed finish.
2017: Lewis Hamilton
2016: Nico Rosberg
2015: Lewis Hamilton