Toto Wolff has said that the moment when Lewis Hamilton let teammate Valtteri Bottas through for third place in Hungary was the moment he thought the team could go on to win the 2017 title over Ferrari.
The Hungarian Grand Prix saw Ferrari lock out the front-row in qualifying and take a comfortable win over Mercedes, but steering issues for Sebastian Vettel allowed the silver arrows to close up to the Italian team.
Bottas tried to pass Kimi Raikkonen but couldn't get close enough so allowed teammate Hamilton through on the promise that if he couldn't, he'd let the Finn back through.
The Brit was unable to pass Raikkonen either so at the final corner on the last lap, he graciously let his teammate back through and onto the podium.
Wolff believes that the respect shown by both drivers that day is what made him realise they could go on to win both titles over Ferrari.
“Lewis asked to give it a go and try and take over the Ferraris - and if it doesn’t work I will give Valtteri the position back. And we did that," Wolff told BBC Sport, as per The Express.
“Sticking to your values is most difficult in such circumstances, but we did that.
“Having done that and possibly wasting three points in what looked like would have a tough championship made him come back very strong after the season break at Spa.
“And from then on it was rock and roll.”
Following Budapest, Hamilton and Mercedes went on to win five of the next six races, wrapping up the constructors' title in the USA and the drivers' title in Mexico.
Bottas struggled during those races but managed to bounce back in Brazil by qualifying in pole and finishing in second place, followed by pole and the win in Abu Dhabi's season finale.
Mercedes will start 2018 as favorites and with both drivers expected to challenge for the title, but Ferrari will once again be up there and Red Bull cannot be underestimated either.
It means Wolff and co. will be keen to avoid the troubled start they had to 2017 with their "diva" of a car.
“With a car that was difficult at the start of the season Lewis extracted what he could have from the car,” Wolff said of Hamilton.
“But it was difficult for both drivers to understand how to drive a car that was capricious.
“Fast but difficult at times. So we saw variability in performances.
“In Monaco our car was almost undrivable. But Lewis started to understand the car after a handful of races and how he needed to drive the car to keep the tyres in the right window, and then become better and better.”
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