Making the unpopular call to issue team orders in Russia, Toto Wolff says he’d rather be the bad guy today than the “idiot” that lost the title at the end of the season.
Running two and three behind the yet-to-pit Max Verstappen at the Sochi Autodrom, Mercedes ordered Valtteri Bottas to relinquish his position to Lewis Hamilton.
That effectively gave the Brit the victory as he was elevated to P1 when Verstappen pitted.
The call did not go down well with many fans, or even with Bottas who was notably, and understandably, unhappy.
Heading into the final few laps he asked Mercedes whether the positions would be reserved given that Sebastian Vettel was not going to challenge, only to be told to hold station.
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Wolff firmly believes he did what was best for the test.
“Somebody needs to be the baddie sometimes, and it’s me today,” said the motorsport boss.
“You need to weigh it up. What do I opt for, to be the baddie on Sunday evening, or do I want to be the idiot in Abu Dhabi at the end of the season?
“I’d rather be the baddie today than the idiot at the end of the year.”
With Hamilton’s one tyre sporting a blister, Mercedes were worried he would be vulnerable to an attack from Vettel and therefore opted to put Bottas between the two.
Wolff acknowledges that in an ideal world they wouldn’t have had to.
“The best case would have been it stays like it was and we finished second with Lewis and the win with Valtteri but the worst case was that blister wouldn’t last until the end and Lewis could be overtaken by Sebastian in order to manage his tyres.
“Rationally, it was the right call to do… Our sporting heart says no.”
Reflect on all the major talking points from the Russia Grand Prix with The F1 Word: