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Merc boss: Values trump results

Mercedes recognised that an act of sporting sacrifice in Hungary on Sunday could ultimately cost Lewis Hamilton a fourth Formula One title but said it was a price they were prepared to pay.

"It cost us three points and potentially the championship and we are perfectly conscious about that," team boss Toto Wolff said after Hamilton slowed on the final lap to let teammate Valtteri Bottas take third place as part of an earlier agreement.

"Nevertheless, this is how the drivers and team operate," added the Austrian, whose team have won the past three drivers' and constructors' championships.

"We stick to what we say and, if the consequences are as much as losing the championship, we take it.

"But, long term, we will be winning much more races and championships with that approach than doing it the other way around."

Bottas had agreed to let the faster Hamilton through to chase the leading Ferraris, on the understanding that the positions would be reversed again if unsuccessful.

The Briton duly kept his word, even if others might not have done with so much at stake, and fell 14 points behind Ferrari's championship leader and race winner Sebastian Vettel.

It is rare indeed for a star driver in a tight battle for the championship, and whose teammate is behind in the standings, to give up points that could make or break his chances without affecting the constructors' tally.

Wolff said he would be the first to "shoot myself in the knee" if the championship ultimately hinged on those three points but he added that Mercedes had a bigger picture in mind.

He said: "We've seen the backlash of decisions that were ruthless and cold-blooded and the effect it had on the brand. Now you say, 'Sxxxx it, it still won them the championship. Who cares?'.

"But I don't think this is the right spin... It is doing the right things.. And sometimes doing it the right way and standing by your values is tough. It was today, believe me." - REUTERS

Formula 1