Team orders acceptable in title chase: Hamilton

SOCHI (Russia) • Lewis Hamilton has said that Mercedes should use team orders if they can help to beat Ferrari this season.

Sebastian Vettel has won two of the first three races, cementing his and Ferrari's position as the main challengers to the team which have won the past three constructors' and drivers' titles.

Hamilton "never particularly liked" the idea of team orders but in the previous round in Bahrain, his new team-mate, Valtteri Bottas, was asked to move aside to let him through to challenge Vettel.

Vettel still went on to win and leads the drivers' championship by seven points heading into tomorrow's Russian Grand Prix.

"Our approach is the team need to win so we have to try to work as a team but only in special circumstances," Hamilton said.

"Given that we are fighting Ferrari, the team are in a different position than in the past so they are going to be relying on us, hopefully, just doing a good job so that they never need to call for a change."

Mercedes have allowed their drivers to race during their period of dominance, but team boss Toto Wolff said after the Bahrain Grand Prix that Vettel's victories could force a strategy rethink.

Hamilton spent the past three years battling Nico Rosberg, his then team-mate, for the title, which he said made team orders "much, much trickier".

Bottas, who replaced Rosberg this season, said there had been no talks about team orders ahead of this weekend's race. But the Finn said he would move aside for Hamilton if Mercedes asked him to.

"If I have some issues in this race, for whatever reason - we are on different strategies or Lewis is stuck behind me, or something - if the team tells me to move over, I will," he said.

Hamilton missed out on the title in his first season in Formula One in 2007 when he was at McLaren alongside Fernando Alonso.

The two drivers spent all season taking points off each other and Hamilton lost the championship to Kimi Raikkonen by one point.

"It's not a great feeling because you want to beat that guy on all merits," said the Briton. "But the way the sport is now with the tyres, following is difficult. The optimum way is when you're working with your team-mate."

THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 29, 2017, with the headline 'Team orders acceptable in title chase: Hamilton'. Print Edition | Subscribe