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Mercedes before Hamilton and Bottas, says Wolff

Hockenheim: Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff denied on Monday that the use of team orders in Sunday's spectacular German GP signalled that Lewis Hamilton would be preferred as the number one driver.

Wolff was adamant that the triumphant Hamilton and his team-mate Valtteri Bottas will remain free to race each other until late in the season when there might be championships decided by such decisions.

"Racing is most important," said Wolff. "We always said if the championship goes into its last third, or last quarter, and there is a big difference between the drivers, then we might make these unpopular calls.

"But it's much too early in the season to do this. We made it in order to bring a one and two home.... And we would have done it the other way around." Bottas attempted to challenge and pass Hamilton for the lead in Sunday's rain-hit race following a Safety Car period after Sebastian Vettel crashed out. The two Mercedes men battled side-by-side before Hamilton emerged in front and Mercedes intervened with a team radio message to 'hold position'.

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