No Mercedes punishment for Hamilton, says Wolff

Despite ignoring team orders during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton has escaped sanction for his go-slow tactics that put team-mate Nico Rosberg at risk of being overtaken.
Despite ignoring team orders during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton has escaped sanction for his go-slow tactics that put team-mate Nico Rosberg at risk of being overtaken.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Mercedes have decided not to take action against Lewis Hamilton after the controversial end to the Formula One season.

The three-time world champion ignored team orders during the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as he looked to snatch the title from his team-mate Nico Rosberg.

However, Mercedes' head of motorsport Toto Wolff has confirmed there will be no punishment for Hamilton as he focuses his attention on replacing the now-retired Rosberg.

"In the heat of the moment, sometimes when you make decisions, you get them wrong," Wolff told Sky Sports.

"In our mind, the way we think, this race was giving us the same number of points as other races and we try to win that one - not considering that there was much more at stake for the drivers (as the team had already won both championships).

"How the race panned out, we should have communicated differently (to the drivers) and in hindsight let them race in the way they deemed to be appropriate."

Immediately after the race at the Yas Marina Circuit, Wolff said: "Undermining a structure in public means you are putting yourself before the team. It is very simple. Anarchy does not work in any team and in any company."

With a line drawn under that controversy, he is working overtime to line up a new driver to race alongside Hamilton next season.

He has vowed to make a brave decision, with Williams driver Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein the favourites to replace Rosberg.

"Maybe we need to make a brave decision in the same way Nico has made a brave decision," said Wolff.

His comments are likely to provide more encouragement to 22-year-old Wehrlein, who will also be heartened by Fernando Alonso's manager Flavio Briatore ruling the Spaniard out as a candidate to take over the Mercedes seat.

Wolff had earlier said that he "had to consider" Alonso as a replacement for Rosberg, who announced his retirement five days after winning his maiden drivers' championship.

But the two-time world champion is contracted to McLaren until the end of next year and Briatore told Gazetta dello Sport: "We have an agreement with McLaren and we are going to respect that."

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 11, 2016, with the headline 'No Mercedes punishment for Hamilton, says Wolff'. Print Edition | Subscribe