Mercedes Formula 1 team boss Toto Wolff says he went and spoke to Red Bull’s Christian Horner following comments by the Briton that Mercedes is “obviously” favouring Lewis Hamilton over team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
On Saturday Horner was asked about Max Verstappen’s chances of beating Hamilton this year, which led on to Horner discussing Bottas’ chances and, according to him, the fact Hamilton is favoured within the team.
“It’s obvious Mercedes favour Lewis,” he said. “You see it on strategy, the positioning of the cars and so on.
“Why wouldn’t they have put Bottas on a two-stop, for example, in Spa, that would have given him the opportunity to win the race.
“The problem is that everything is geared towards Lewis this year on his record-equalling campaign. The reality for Valtteri is that unless he qualifies ahead, he hasn’t got a chance.”
Wolff confirmed that he spoke to Horner about his comments and rubbished such claims of having a number one and two driver.
“I spoke to him about that,” Wolff said. “He said: ‘Why didn’t you pit Valtteri for the second stop?’ I said if we would have known that a two-stop is quicker, we would have pitted Lewis as well.
“In hindsight, the two-stop is the better strategy, but we didn’t want to lose position against Max, because it was not clear whether we would beat Max on-track.
“I said why didn’t you pit Max for a second stop? You could have beaten us. He said: ‘Well we weren’t sure we would be able to overtake Ricciardo’.
“Well hello? Here we go! It’s exactly the same situation.”
He added: “There is no such thing as prioritising one driver over the other. We have always played it completely open, transparent and fair. That is how we’re going to continue.”