No team orders for Mercs

Rosberg, Hamilton free to battle, as team accept risks such as Spanish GP crash

LONDON • Formula One world champions Mercedes will not rein in Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, despite their collision in Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix, team boss Toto Wolff said.

"We have moved on from Spa in 2014 and it was a completely different situation in the team back then," the Austrian told reporters, referring to a collision between the two at the Belgian Grand Prix.

"By continuing to let them race each other, it was clear that eventually this could happen. And we will continue to let them race."

The second-lap collision in 2014 led to a freeze in relations between the drivers, who had been friends and rivals since their teenage years.

In that incident, Rosberg finished second behind Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, while Hamilton ultimately retired with collision damage.

The Briton said later that the German, who was blamed by the team, had declared he had done it on purpose.

Sunday's incident put both out of the race, with the two drivers lining up on the front row of the grid and crashing into each other as they fought for the lead through the third corner of the opening lap.

The collision ended Rosberg's run of seven straight wins, including the first four of this season.

Wolff said the collision, which the stewards deemed a racing incident, was the result of a number of unfortunate coincidences.

"What matters more is how we come out of the incident as a team," he said.

Three-time world champion Jackie Stewart, however, said that Mercedes should fine an "emotional" Hamilton for causing the incident.

"It was all emotion," Stewart said. "First-lap desperation. That's not the way to win, not consistently. Hamilton is to blame. Rosberg was allowed to protect himself. You don't go for it on the first lap."

Niki Lauda, the Mercedes team's non-executive chairman and a three-time world champion, also blamed Hamilton. "Lewis was too aggressive to pass him and why should Nico give him room?" he said. "It was a miscalculation for Lewis, but for the team it is completely unacceptable."

Rosberg, meanwhile, will decide in the coming days whether he needs to hold clear-the-air talks with Hamilton.

"That is something I need to think about in the days to come," he said. "I can't tell you now as I am extremely gutted. It is very tough because it was my race to win.

"I am not just gutted for myself but I am gutted for everybody because we are one team and we are together in this."

Wolff said both drivers knew what was expected of them and he was "100 per cent sure" it would not influence the way they worked as a team.

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2016, with the headline 'No team orders for Mercs'. Print Edition | Subscribe