Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has insisted that he would rather be viewed as a "baddie" for one race and win the championship rather than an "idiot" if the Silver Arrows failed to win the constructors' title because he failed to initiate team orders.
During Sunday's Russian Grand Prix, Valtteri Bottas was positioned perfectly to claim the victory ahead of the competition, but was ordered to swap positions with Lewis Hamilton in P2 so the Brit could win and subsequently earn more points in the championship race against Sebastian Vettel.
Wolff admits that he was the villain of the day, but that it will be worth it if Mercedes win the title.
“Sometimes somebody needs to be the baddie and it’s me today,” the team boss said.
“It’s a case of do I want to be the baddie on Sunday evening, for many reasons, or do I want to be the idiot in Abu Dhabi? I’d rather be the baddie today and not the idiot at the end of the year.”
Wolff then provided more reasoning for the decision to swap Bottas and Hamilton, saying that the order was made because the team was wary of the threat being posed by Vettel in third position.
“We told them that they can race each other, just be careful with each other,” Wolff told the media post-race.
“[Remember] the situation we are in for the championship, the drivers’ and the constructors’ championship.
“And we also told Valtteri that if everything panned out and we were running one and two at the end of the race then we would leave it like this. Unless we felt under threat from Vettel.”
With Bottas leading, in behind were Hamilton and Vettel, with the Brit performing an excellent move to get beyond the Ferrari driver. However, after the overlap, the team noticed blistering on Hamilton's tyres and with Vettel at his rear, Bottas was sent between the championship rivals as a buffer.
“We were a lap too late with Lewis and I take it on me,” Wolff continued
“Because I was engaging with James [Vowles, strategist] in a conversation when I should have made the call and in this way Lewis came in a lap too late and lost position.”
“Lewis worked hard to get past Sebastian, he did an awesome move but blistered the tyres and then we were in a situation with Valtteri in front with fresher tyres, Lewis behind with a blistered rear and Sebastian all over Lewis.”
GPFans is a multi-platform, multi-language brand dedicated to Formula One coverage. We bring you all the ins and outs of the sport, 24/7, everything from up-to-the-minute news and features to the latest viral stories and clips.
We believe that a new generation of exciting, outspoken drivers will make F1 more popular than ever before, and we want to give our users access to as much of their heroes as possible, on and off the track. From Lewis Hamilton to Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo to Sebastian Vettel, we provide in-depth analysis of every every Grand Prix in the season, from Australia to Abu Dhabi.
With Formula One under the new ownership of Liberty Media, how the sport is being covered is evolving, and GPFans will look to be at the heart of this progression into new media, as one of the fastest-growing sites covering the king of motorsports.