Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium - Valtteri Bottas bridled at the suggestion last month that he was a "wingman" for Mercedes team-mate and championship leader Lewis Hamilton but the Finn may soon find he has no choice in the matter.
Hamilton is now 87 points ahead of his fourth-placed team mate - a tally equivalent to some three and a half race wins - with only eight rounds of the campaign remaining.
Asked whether it was now time for Bottas to play a supporting role, with Ferrari on the rise and the Italian team firmly focused on Sebastian Vettel ahead of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff hesitated.
"I hate to do that. It's completely against my racing instinct and we try to be always very neutral to both drivers and we haven't done it yet," he told reporters after Vettel won Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix with Hamilton second.
"We haven't discussed it, let's see how Monza pans out and how it goes and then we will address the question whether we need to put all force behind one driver," added the Austrian, referring to next weekend's Italian Grand Prix.