Mercedes is still not willing to throw all its weight behind Lewis Hamilton's title bid despite his big lead in the drivers' championship.
Hamilton and Mercedes' remarkable turnaround in Singapore, which saw the Briton win as main title rival and polesitter Sebastian Vettel crashed out on the opening lap, opened up a 28-point buffer to the Ferrari driver. With just six races left at circuits which seem to favour Mercedes more than Ferrari, Hamilton would appear to be the clear favourite for a fourth career title.
Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas finished third in Singapore, meaning he is now 51 points behind his teammate -- enough of a deficit that Hamilton could retire from the next two races and still be a point ahead if Bottas won on both occasions. Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is wary of the impact it will have on Bottas' mindset if the team starts to prioritise the No.44 car over his.
"I think that it's pretty obvious that his chance of winning the drivers' championship is higher than Valtteri's," Wolff said. "So like we've done in the past we will look at the preceding race and assess it, then the decision becomes obvious.
"I wouldn't want to give a straight commitment and say he's our number one, because I don't want to screw up the mind of our second driver. Because if he's up in the front, and he's leading the race... That's why I don't want to call it."
Bottas joined the team at the start of 2017 and has twice been asked to move over for Hamilton -- once in Bahrain as the Finn struggled with a tyre issue, then in Hungary when Hamilton felt he had better pace to challenge the leading Ferraris. On the second occasion, having failed to pass Kimi Raikkonen, Hamilton honoured a promise he had made during the race and slowed dramatically on the final lap to give third place back to Bottas, a decision which led Wolff to declare he was "not in a happy place" having cost the team's lead driver three points.
Despite enjoying a 102-point lead over Ferrari after the race at Marina Bay, Wolff has warned Mercedes it cannot afford to rest on its laurels in its quest to win both championships for a fourth consecutive season.