Mercedes AMG Petronas team boss Toto Wolff defended his decision to call on Valtteri Bottas to allow Lewis Hamilton through in Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix.
Hamilton won the race from his second-place starting spot to earn his milestone 70th career Formula One victory, his series-leading eighth this season and his third in a row.
I’d rather be a baddie now than an idiot at the end of the yearMercedes AMG Petronas team boss Toto Wolff
Hamilton beat his Brackley team-mate and pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas, to take his third victory at Sochi. But it required Bottas to allow Hamilton past when he was in a strong position himself.
Wolff said: “We found ourselves in the tricky situation after leaving Lewis out one lap too long in the pit stops, which brought him out behind Sebastian [Vettel].
“The race panned out differently to what we had expected. We did the right thing by calling Valtteri in first, it would have protected his position, but we were one lap too late with Lewis.
“I’ll take it on me, because I was engaging with James [Vowles] in a conversation when he should have made the call. And this is why he came in a lap too late and lost position.
“Lewis had to fight hard to overtake Sebastian, which was an awesome move, but blistered his tyres and then we were in a situation where Valtteri was in front managing the tyres.
“Lewis was behind with a blistered rear and Sebastian all over him. And at that stage, there were two possible outcomes. The best case would have been it stayed like it is and we finish second with Lewis and win with Valtteri.
“The worst case was that the blister wouldn’t last until the end and Lewis would have been overtaken by Sebastian, in order to manage his tyres.
“You need to weigh it up. To be the baddie on Sunday for many right reasons, or do I want to be the idiot in Abu Dhabi at end of the season?
“I’d rather be a baddie now than an idiot at the end of the year.”