Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff must have been holding his breath when the racing got underway in Azerbaijan, as he watched his two drivers going wheel to wheel for the first few corners of the Baku City Circuit before Valtteri Bottas eventually came out on top.
But having made the better start of the two off the line, Lewis Hamilton was left wondering afterwards whether he’d been too kind to his team mate.
As he did at the Chinese Grand Prix two weeks ago, Hamilton enjoyed a better initial launch than Bottas from second place on the grid, and once again appeared to have the advantage heading into Turn 1.
But the onboard cameras from Hamilton then picked up the nose of Bottas’ W10 coming back at him, the Finn toughing his way back ahead on the run down to Turn 2 before decisively sweeping across a respectful Hamilton to take a lead that would eventually see him record his second win of the season, as Hamilton went on to finish second.
For a team boss, the opening three corners of the Grand Prix had been a perfect demonstration of how team mates should handle wheel-to-wheel racing. But the selfish racing driver in Lewis Hamilton couldn’t help thinking after the chequered flag that he may have left too much on the table in the on-track battle...
“I was too friendly in Turn 1,” said Hamilton simply, “and basically gave it to him, but he drove a fantastic race, made no mistakes and so he deserved the win this weekend.”