Mercedes deny ‘2-1’ call was for Bottas swap

Date published: July 6 2020

Mercedes Concorde Agreement

Mercedes has cleared up a radio message heard during broadcast which could have been interpreted as a call for Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton to swap.

The message of “Urgent Chassis Default Two One” instantly evoked memories of the ‘multi 21’ call which Sebastian Vettel ignored at the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix to deny his then Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber the victory.

At the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix, Bottas was leading Hamilton throughout but the defending champ was breathing down his team-mate’s neck on a number of occasions before a five-second penalty for causing a collision with Alex Albon saw him fall off the podium spots.

But the Silver Arrows has said there was never any call or suggestion for Bottas to move over.

“Don’t get paranoid! This is nothing to do with Multi 21,” Wolff said via Motorsport.com.

“We have never played that, unless there was a problem on the car, and we would never interfere in a fight in the first few races of a season. They were completely free to race each other.

“What we did, that we always do on both cars, we gave them the same recommendations to stay off the kerbs. And because there was no competitor basically at a certain stage, we switched the engines to a lower mode to protect the power unit.

“There was no, zero team orders. No hidden, no subtle, and no direct.”

'Not my fault Hamilton got the five-second penalty'

There was a suggestion, however, during the race, that Mercedes may have wanted to swap drivers in order to protect Hamilton’s podium finish with a time penalty being added at the end of the race.

But Wolff said that was simply too risky a move to engineer so late into the afternoon.

He added: “Maybe with all the information afterwards we would have gotten P3. There was a discussion, but that starts to get really messy.

“We’ve had it in Budapest many years ago, and we nearly got overtaken by [Max] Verstappen.

“The thinking that I had was that you need to explain to Valtteri what is going on, that there is a five-second penalty, and then ask Lewis in the last lap to let Valtteri pass again.

“So if Valtteri can’t keep up, he can’t let him past, and if [Charles] Leclerc and [Lando] Norris on fresh tyres are on his gearbox, then obviously Valtteri rather than winning the race ends up fourth. Too much complexity to do such a switch. Too much risk.”

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1 and like our Facebook page.