Team bosses at Mercedes AMG PETRONAS have decided that there is no need for them to enforce team orders on their drivers, despite the pairs on track battle causing the German squad to lose valuable points in the championship on three occasions this season already.
In a meeting between Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff, Technical Director Paddy Lowe, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, that took place at their Brackley office on Thursday, the drivers were told they would still be free to race, provided they stick to the tougher rules the team have now put in place to deter the pair from making any further unnecessary contact.
The discussion came about after the team-mates collided on the final lap of the 2016 Austrian Grand Prix, which saw Hamilton win the race, whilst Rosberg dropped down the order to fourth, when they could have brought home a Mercedes one-two. A statement released by the team confirmed the outcome of the meeting.
“This freedom comes with a duty for our drivers to respect the values of the team.
“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 Brackley based team have not completely ruled out the use of team orders though, if it is felt they are necessary to secure their championship position.
“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.”
With the battle for the drivers’ championship becoming ever tighter, it will be interesting to see how long Hamilton and Rosberg can remain controlled in their racing methods, and not let pressure dictate their actions on track.