Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has said the team left Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton free to race at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Bottas and Hamilton went wheel-to-wheel at the first couple of corners of the race with the Finn just about holding off his team-mate.
Hamilton started to launch another attack in the closing laps, getting himself with DRS range but unable to get close enough to pass.
The TV cameras showed Wolff’s fingers hover ominously over the driver buttons on the pit wall yet he said he did not issue any order for Bottas and Hamilton to hold station.
“No, [we] let them race,” Wolff said via RaceFans.Net.
“I think we did, they are experienced, they know that racing must be clean, we see lap one was very clean. And this is a track where we mustn’t take crazy risks because you could lose both of the cars.
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“When we talk to the drivers it’s open, everybody can hear them. But then obviously you have intercom which is only an internal line.
“But I was not talking to the drivers.
“If I push the driver button, I know it myself, so I am not giving myself permission to talk to the drivers because I get emotional and then sometimes I regret what I say. So I never talk to the drivers directly during the race.
“It was more a discussion with a group of strategists on the pit wall. It was a discussion whether Vettel would actually come close, whether we would save the engine, it was about whether Leclerc or Verstappen would go for fastest lap, it was more an overall discussion.
“We acknowledged that it could get a little bit racy at the end, but we didn’t talk to them.”
A fourth consecutive Mercedes 1-2 has seen the Silver Arrows open up a 74-point lead in the Constructors’ standings.