Mercedes to discuss Valtteri Bottas support role after Monza

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff says it the manufacturer will assess after this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix whether to back Lewis Hamilton in this year’s Formula 1 title battle.

Mercedes has traditionally operated a policy of treating both drivers equally, but Hamilton holds a slender 17-point lead over Sebastian Vettel, with Ferrari quicker in dry pace across the last few events.

Bottas’ title prospects, meanwhile, appear slim, with the Finn now 87 points behind his Mercedes team-mate, and yet to pick up a victory in 2018.

Bottas previously expressed irritation post-race in Hungary when he was labelled a "perfect wingman" by Wolff, with the pair later clarifying those comments.

When asked post-race in Belgium whether it was time Mercedes placed Bottas in a support role, Wolff replied: “I hate to do that. It’s completely against my racing instinct.

“We try to be very neutral to both drivers. We haven’t done it. We haven’t done it yet. We haven’t discussed it.

“Let’s see how Monza pans out and how it goes. Then we will address the question as to whether we need to put all force behind one driver.

“But at the moment, we owe it to the two men and to Formula 1 to not interfere into the race.”

Wolff moved to praise Bottas’ drive from 17th on the grid to finish fourth in Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix, with a post-race time penalty for hitting Sergey Sirotkin not impacting on the Finn’s result.

“It was a very good performance,” said Wolff.

“Obviously the wing didn’t help at the beginning but you can see how difficult it is to overtake.

“There was a stage at lap 10 or so where it was difficult to find his way through the field against cars that were maybe two seconds offset in pace.

“But overall, I’m really happy when he put the other tyre on, which wasn’t new, set the quickest lap time of the race at the end and finished in P4.

“I think this was the maximum to be achieved without the Safety Car mid-race, which I’m happy with.”

Mercedes extended its lead over Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship to 15 points.