Grand prix

Bottas won’t bunch Verstappen into the pack for Hamilton

Despite being fastest in qualifying, Hamilton will start 11th following a grid penalty for taking a fourth internal combustion engine, while his main title rival Max Verstappen joins Mercedes teammate Bottas on the front row. 

The seven-time world champion is two points clear of Verstappen in the title battle and aiming for damage-limitation as he looks to gain as much ground as possible in Sunday’s race.

But Wolff dismissed the suggestion that Mercedes could get Bottas to bunch Verstappen into the pack in a bid to boost Hamilton’s charge up the order. 

“Valtteri’s going to race his race,” Wolff said. “This is about the race win and Valtteri’s win and the team’s win. And we’re not going to do any bunching up.” 

Wolff believes it will be tough for Hamilton to move up in Sunday’s race due to overtaking proving trickier than expected at Istanbul Park, and because the majority of drivers directly ahead of Hamilton will be starting on the same tyres.  

“It would have been easier it we would have had a tyre offset strategy, but the hards on these conditions today would have been a little too bold,” he explained. 

“We expected some of the other guys in front of us would have run the softs in Q2 just to make sure they would have made it into the top 10 and that didn’t happen. So that is a little bit of a setback. 

“But it is what it is. He can only try to do his upmost and I wouldn’t want to have any other driver in the car when it is about overtaking and going through the field than Lewis. 

“Having said that, yesterday we simulated some of these situations, and it’s very difficult to follow in traffic. It’s a phenomenon that we’ve already seen all year but it could be something that we need to fight. 

“So there will be not many options left than to try with strategy and obviously hope that the front train is not disappearing in the distance.”

Despite the challenge that lies ahead of him, Hamilton has promised to turn in a “super attacking” display in his quest to claim a seemingly unlikely victory. 

“It really depends on what the weather we’ve got tomorrow and yes, partly cautious, but also super attacking. I need to – I want to – win the race somehow. So that’s my goal,” Hamilton said. 

“I was already third at Turn 1 last year, so that made a bit of a difference, but it’s a much, much different weekend, a much different track grip. We’re facing different circumstances this weekend. 

“So my eyes are still solely set on winning the race. It’s going to be very hard from 11th, but not impossible. So just staying on my toes and making sure we’ll deliver maximum attack.” 

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