Drivers on the same pedestal, says Mercedes boss

Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valterri Bottas will be working together as a team, with Ferrari going another route.
Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valterri Bottas will be working together as a team, with Ferrari going another route.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Formula One champions Mercedes will continue to give their drivers equal treatment despite the emergence of Sebastian Vettel as Ferrari's clear title contender, team boss Toto Wolff said yesterday.

Championship leader Vettel has won three of the six races so far, finishing second in the rest, and has scored nearly twice as many points as team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

Mercedes have also won three races, but they have been shared between Britain's three-time champion Lewis Hamilton, with two wins, but now 25 points behind Vettel, and Valtteri Bottas of Finland.

"We have two excellent drivers and we will hold true to our philosophy of letting them race each other to drive the team forward - even if sometimes it can be difficult because you can't always have the one who is ahead in the championship winning," Wolff said in a team preview of Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix.

Hamilton, who was only seventh in the previous race in Monaco, has 104 points to Bottas' 75.

Both Mercedes drivers have done well in Canada in the past, Hamilton winning for the last two years at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and five times in total - making it his most successful circuit along with Hungary.

Bottas has also been on the podium in Canada for the last two years, with his ex-team Williams.

NOT PLAYING FAVOURITES

It's clear to me that Ferrari have chosen their No. 1 driver... I don't feel like we have to favour one over the other.

LEWIS HAMILTON, Mercedes driver, on his team preferring to put both drivers on equal footing.

Hamilton told reporters in Monaco, where Ferrari finished first and second, that he believed they were favouring Vettel.

"It's clear to me that Ferrari have chosen their No. 1 driver," he said. "They are pushing everything to make sure Sebastian will maximise on all of his weekends."

The Briton added, however, that he saw no need to change Mercedes' approach.

"Valtteri has been doing a great job and I don't feel like we have to favour one over the other," he said.

"We have to work collectively as a team more than ever before to beat the Ferraris in the constructors' (championship)."

Ferrari lead champions Mercedes by 17 points in the constructors' standings.

Wolff, who said in Monaco that Mercedes were now the underdogs, acknowledged that it hurt.

"We have to fight with all that we are worth for every single win, pole position, podium finish and every point," he said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2017, with the headline 'Drivers on the same pedestal, says Mercedes boss'. Print Edition | Subscribe