Toto Wolff admits it is likely Mercedes will swap its drivers if the chance arises in the Sprint at the Italian Grand Prix, with Valtteri Bottas starting first but with a penalty.
Bottas qualified fastest in Friday’s session but took a fourth fresh power unit at Monza, meaning he will start Sunday’s grand prix from the back of the grid regardless of where he finishes on Saturday. With Lewis Hamilton now trailing Max Verstappen in the drivers’ championship and three points being on offer to the winner of the Sprint, Wolff admits the topic of team orders is being considered.
“It’s difficult generally when you have to call team orders, because all of us are racers and we don’t want to see that,” Wolff told Sky Sports. “Everybody here should be where he is on merit. But in any case, Valtteri is going all the way to the back on Sunday. So we need to see how the start pans out because there is not too much to discuss – just be careful in the first corner, and then we’ll see where they are.”
When it was put to Wolff that he would swap the drivers if Bottas was leading and there was a comfortable gap to Verstappen, he echoed the question as he replied: “Presumably, yeah.”
Bottas was over 0.4s clear of Verstappen in Friday’s qualifying session, but Wolff says the gap to Red Bull is not something he is overly concerned about at this point of the season.
“It depends if you see the world from a more half-full glass or half-empty,” he said. “We’re more half-empty, and it’s a solid advantage. We can be happy with that, but the critical part is trying to perform every single weekend and not have any DNFs, that is the killer.”