No team orders please: Hamilton

Mercedes' Nico Rosberg reacting after the Austrian GP, where he collided with team-mate and eventual winner Lewis Hamilton in the last lap.
Mercedes' Nico Rosberg reacting after the Austrian GP, where he collided with team-mate and eventual winner Lewis Hamilton in the last lap. PHOTO: REUTERS

Briton hopes he can still continue to battle Rosberg after their third collision in five races

SPIELBERG (Austria) • Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has urged Mercedes to reject team orders and allow him to continue fighting team-mate Nico Rosberg for the drivers' title.

After clashing and colliding with the German leader of this year's championship on the last lap of his victory in Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix, the defending three-time champion said he hoped Mercedes boss Toto Woff would reject the temptation of team orders.

"I hope it doesn't change and I hope we can continue to race," said Hamilton. "That is my honest opinion from a love of this sport."

"Certain circumstances have led us to where we are today," he added. "We have a lot of races ahead and we will continue to race. I am fighting for the world championship so we will keep fighting.

"You never want to see team orders happening. The great thing is Toto and Niki (Lauda) have been great and allow us to race and that is what racing is about."

DON'T STOP THE FIGHT

We have a lot of races ahead and we will continue to race. I am fighting for the world championship so we will keep fighting.

LEWIS HAMILTON, Mercedes driver, on why he hopes team orders will not be imposed.

Meanwhile, Rosberg has been assured that his ongoing contract negotiations with Mercedes will not be affected by Sunday's collision with Hamilton.

"The contract is a long-term decision and isn't influenced by a race incident," Wolff said.

An exasperated Wolff, who has a 30 per cent stake in the team as well as being Mercedes motorsport director, had earlier slammed the latest clash between the two title rivals as "brainless".

Sunday's collision was their third in five races and came only four races on from their crash in Spain, where both men were forced into retirement on the opening lap.

Stewards blamed Rosberg for causing Sunday's last-lap incident, imposing a meaningless 10-second time penalty and reprimand.

The German, who has been at Mercedes since 2010 and turned 31 last week, finished fourth to lie on 153 points. Hamilton's victory allowed him to cut the gap to championship leader Rosberg to 11 points with 12 races remaining.

While Hamilton has a contract till 2018, Rosberg's future is up for discussion. The German has won five of nine races this year and, despite talk of a possible move to Ferrari, has said that he expects to remain at Mercedes for years to come.

"It feels great to be here, and the team's also very happy with me," he said. "I feel really very much at home. This is my racing family and this is where I want to be for the foreseeable future."

Asked on Sunday whether anything had changed, he replied that he was just disappointed to have lost another victory.

"I had it in the bag and would have loved to win here. To lose it in such a way in the last lap is unbelievably hard," said the German, who had been chasing a hat-trick of Austria wins.

"I don't think of a big picture like that," he added when asked about working with Hamilton. "I'm just thinking of today and I'm gutted and that's it."

He had made clear to reporters, before the officials' decision, that he considered Hamilton to blame.

"The collision completely took me by surprise. I didn't expect Lewis to turn in... I can say that for sure I didn't drive into anybody, because I had the car fully under control at all times," he said.

"Apparently he said in a TV interview that I was in his blind spot so maybe that is why he turned in."

Wolff will call an inquest this week with the two drivers and their engineers to thrash out how they can avoid crashes that endanger team results.

Rosberg said on Sunday he would accept the team's decision but Hamilton is unlikely to be so compliant.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2016, with the headline 'No team orders please: Hamilton'. Print Edition | Subscribe