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Mercedes: Hamilton and Rosberg are “free to race” in F1
Threat of team orders will only be used as a last resort
Mercedes has decided not to impose team orders on its drivers, and has instead said that Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg’s “destiny is in their own hands” for the remainder of the F1 season.
The championship rivals collided on the final lap of the Austrian Grand Prix last weekend as Hamilton attempted to overtake his teammate for the lead, an incident which the stewards later blamed on Rosberg for not leaving enough “racing room” on the outside of Turn 2 at the Red Bull Ring.
The crash – which broke the German’s front wing and eventually dropped him to fourth – came just weeks after the two Mercs took each other off on the first lap of the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.
This latest mishap was enough for team boss Toto Wolff to consider issuing team orders, despite saying that such a move would make him “want to puke”.
However, “positive meetings” between Wolff, Hamilton, Rosberg and director Paddy Lowe have alleviated the situation.
“Our drivers were informed that they remain free to race for the World Championship,” said a team statement. “We believe this is the essence of Formula One, including between team-mates. As passionate racers, we want to see them racing, and so do the fans of Formula One.
“In the past five races, there have been three incidents which have cost us over 50 points in the Constructors’ Championship.
“We have therefore strengthened our Rules of Engagement to include much greater deterrents to contact between our cars.
“With these in place, we will trust our drivers to manage the situation between them on track. Their destiny is in their own hands.”
The specifics of the new deterrents were not explained, although in the past the team has issued fines for racing incidents.
They continued: “The drivers were also reminded that we may issue instructions during the race to protect against a potential loss of Constructors’ points, such as we did at this year’s Monaco GP when Nico was instructed to let Lewis pass.
“If the drivers do not honour the revised Rules of Engagement, we may impose team orders as a solution of last resort.”
The action will resume at the British Grand Prix this weekend. Here’s hoping Lewis and Nico can put their differences aside…