Mercedes to keep ri­valry alive

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

LON­DON: For­mula One cham­pi­ons Mercedes will con­tinue to give their driv­ers equal treat­ment, de­spite the emer­gence of Se­bas­tian Vet­tel as Fer­rari’s clear ti­tle con­tender, team boss Toto Wolff said yes­ter­day.

Cham­pi­onship leader Vet­tel has won three of the six races so far, fin­ish­ing sec­ond in the rest, and scored nearly twice as many points as team­mate Kimi Raikko­nen.

Mercedes have also won three races but they have been shared be­tween Bri­tain’s triple cham­pion Lewis Hamil­ton, with two vic­to­ries but now 25 points be­hind Fer­rari’s Ger­man, and Fin­land’s Valt­teri Bot­tas.

“We have two ex­cel­lent driv­ers and we will hold true to our phi­los­o­phy of let­ting them race each other to drive the team for­ward – even if some­times it can be dif­fi­cult be­cause you can’t al­ways have the one who is ahead in the cham­pi­onship win­ning,” Wolff said in a team pre­view of Sun­day’s Canadian Grand Prix.

Hamil­ton, who was only sev­enth in the pre­vi­ous race in Monaco, has 104 points to Bot­tas’s 75.

Both Mercedes driv­ers have gone well in Canada in the past, Hamil­ton win­ning for the last two years at the Cir­cuit Gilles Vil­leneuve and five times in to­tal – mak­ing it his most suc­cess­ful cir­cuit along with Hun­gary.

Bot­tas has also been on the podium in Canada for the last two years, with his pre­vi­ous team Wil­liams.

Hamil­ton told re­porters in Monaco, where Fer­rari fin­ished first and sec­ond, that it was clear to him that the Ital­ian team were favour­ing Vet­tel.

“It’s clear to me that Fer­rari have cho­sen their num­ber one driver,” he said.

“They are push­ing ev­ery­thing to make sure Se­bas­tian will max­imise on all of his week­ends.”

The Bri­ton added, how­ever, that he saw no need to change Mercedes’ ap­proach.

“Valt­teri has been do­ing a great job and I don’t feel like we have to favour one over the other,” he said. “We have to work col­lec­tively as a team more than ever be­fore to beat the Fer­raris in the con­struc­tors’ (cham­pi­onship).”

Fer­rari lead cham­pi­ons Mercedes by 17 points in the con­struc­tors’ stand­ings.

Wolff, who said in Monaco that the Sil­ver Ar­rows were now the un­der­dogs, ac­knowl­edged that it hurt.

“We have to fight with all that we are worth for ev­ery sin­gle win, pole po­si­tion, podium fin­ish and ev­ery point,” he said. “You can no longer ex­pect that when you look at a timesheet the two Mercedes (cars) will be right at the top.”

Vet­tel and Raikko­nen have won the Canadian GP once each, in 2013 and 2005, re­spec­tively, while Michael Schu­macher holds the record for the most race win at seven.

Fer­rari are the most suc­cess­ful team at the GP, along with McLaren – both have reg­is­tered 13 vic­to­ries at the race.

The Scud­e­ria last tasted tri­ump at the GP in 2004. – Reuters

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