Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has refused to be drawn on where and when Lewis Hamilton may take a fourth power unit as the 2021 season enters its closing stages, a move that would incur a grid penalty.
Hamilton's teammate, Valtteri Bottas, has taken on a fourth power unit at this weekend's Italian Grand Prix, meaning he will start Sunday's race at Monza from the back of the grid, after topping qualifying and winning the Sprint race.
Hamilton is on the brink of engine penalties himself, having used three power units so far this season, with the first and oldest in his pool failing during free practice for last week's Dutch Grand Prix.
Asked if it is a certainty that Hamilton will need to run fourth power unit this season, and whether it would be a case of who blinks first out of Mercedes and Red Bull, Wolff offered a non-committal response.
"No, it's not an absolute must, because we are still running very comfortably with this power unit," Wolff told media, including RacingNews365.com.
"It's a decision that that can be made at any time, but at the moment, we don't feel it's necessary.
"Does that mean we're not going to take a fourth? No, it doesn't. I think we will see how the next races pan out."
Hamilton will start the Italian Grand Prix from fourth on the grid, having fallen behind both McLaren drivers in the Sprint race after a mistake getting off the line, which Wolff described as "quite unusual".
"First of all, the starts can happen. Between hero and zero on a start is such a fine margin," said Wolff, offering more thoughts on the situation.
"Having too much wheelspin happens, to be honest, and that bit us hard, but we still have everything to play [for]."
Wolff also took a moment to praise the efforts of departing Mercedes driver Bottas so far this weekend.
"Valtteri just had an unbelievable getaway and drove away into the sunset," Wolff added.
"[It was] one of the most dominant ways of winning a race, irrespective of whether it was a Sprint race or not – it was a real masterclass from Valtteri."
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