Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff has praised Charles Leclerc for not “pulling the handbrake” on George Russell during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Entering the race weekend, Mercedes was aiming to hold onto second place in the Constructors' Championship ahead of Ferrari.
Just three points separated the two squads at the end of the race from the Yas Marina Circuit with Mercedes clinching the runner-up spot.
Late on in the Grand Prix, Leclerc let Sergio Perez through for second place as the Red Bull driver carried a five-second time penalty.
Overcoming the penalty and ensuring that Russell finished fourth behind Leclerc and Perez would have sealed second place for Ferrari.
Leclerc also did not opt to back Russell up to give Perez more of a chance to extend the gap.
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Wolff heaped praise on Leclerc for his sportsmanship at the end of the race.
“Perez, for quite some time, wasn't really on the radar,” Wolff explained to media including RacingNews365.
“We knew that they probably couldn't hang out the one-stop when he was ahead and then kick him out 10 or 11 seconds behind us.
“At that moment, we only concentrated on ourselves and said: 'Let's extract the quickest race for George' bearing in mind you need to manage the surfaces. If not, you're falling off a cliff.
“We knew that we had to be within five seconds of Perez but Leclerc was so far ahead that we didn't think he could manage these gaps in order to maybe keep us behind.
“At the end, he could have pulled the handbrake on in the last sector and he didn't. I think that shows the character of a driver.”
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