Paddy Lowe: Mercedes did things the right way in Hungary

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Paddy Lowe thinks fans will remember the way Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes handled its driver swap at the Hungarian Grand Prix in a favourable light, even if the decision costs the team the drivers' championship.

The world champions asked Valtteri Bottas to move aside in Budapest to allow the faster Lewis Hamilton through to attack Kimi Raikkonen, who was held up behind teammate Sebastian Vettel's damaged Ferrari. The swap was done with the understanding Hamilton would hand the position back if he was unable to get past Raikkonen.

Hamilton was ultimately unable to find a way past the Finn and slowed dramatically on the final lap to let Bottas back through at the final corner, doing so without losing a position to Max Verstappen in the process. The decision to swap positions back divided opinion in the paddock, as it saw Mercedes' lead driver in the championship lose three additional points to Vettel in the title fight.

Lowe, who played a key role in Mercedes' dominance of the current era before joining Williams as technical chief this season, believes the team was facing an almost impossible situation.

"There's never a good answer to that one," he said. "In any team, you want to keep it clear to both drivers that they have the opportunity to win the championship. That keeps them motivated in their own right to win races, which is what you need for the team result.

"The worst example of that was 2007 at McLaren where we had two drivers who missed the drivers' championship by one point. It doesn't get worse than that."

After the race, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff cut a conflicted figure; happy the team had stuck to its values but mindful of the impact those three points could have in the team's tight fight with Ferrari. Hamilton has since said his decision to obey Mercedes' request to give the position back came from his desire to win the title in the correct way.

Lowe thinks fans remember when drivers and teams stick to their principals.

"I think in the end it's about how you do it, not what you do. I think drivers get remembered for the way they perform as sportsmen and not necessarily their absolute results. I think that's a good bit of thinking for any race driver or any sportsman at all actually. And we can pick out examples in this sport.

"There are many drivers who we consider greats that didn't win that many races or championships, and that's because of the way they behaved. Stirling Moss is an example of that. I think that's the right line in the end if you're trying to make the right judgement about these things."