Formula One: Mercedes' unhappy boss Wolff warns against 'anarchy'

Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff in the Team Principals Press Conference during practice for the United States Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on Oct 21, 2016, in Austin, United States.
Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff in the Team Principals Press Conference during practice for the United States Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on Oct 21, 2016, in Austin, United States. PHOTO: AFP

Mercedes boss takes issue with Hamilton's Abu Dhabi refusal to abide by team orders

ABU DHABI • Mercedes' celebrations over Nico Rosberg's first Formula One world title have been overshadowed by "anarchy" between the world champion and team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

According to some reports, the team could even punish the Briton for slowing down at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday in the hope that arch-rival Rosberg could be overtaken, thus preventing the German from winning the world title.

Hamilton twice rejected team instructions to speed up as Rosberg came under threat from Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.

Mercedes chief Toto Wolff said: "It's very simple - anarchy does not work in any team and in any company. A precedent has been set.

"Undermining a structure in public means you are putting yourself before the team."

TEAM SPIRIT NEEDED

It's very simple - anarchy does not work in any team and in any company. A precedent has been set. Undermining a structure in public means you are putting yourself before the team.

TOTO WOLFF, Mercedes chief, on Lewis Hamilton ignoring team orders.

According to Wolff, Mercedes will "look at the overall situation and say, 'What does it mean?' Everything is possible.

"Maybe we want to give them more freedom next year, or go with the harsher side where we feel the values were not respected. I am not sure yet where my finger is going to point or the needle is going to go."

Hamilton has said Mercedes should have just let the two drivers race out their rivalry.

"I don't think I did anything dangerous, I don't think I did anything unfair," said the Briton. "We were fighting for the championship, I was in the lead so I control the pace."

However, he was slapped down by third-placed Sebastian Vettel for his grudging attitude to his team-mate's world championship victory and constant complaints that he was robbed by a series of car failures during the season.

"Nico won the championship today," Vettel said. "He's a deserving champion. This is Nico's day and it is a sign of respect and greatness to give him that. I think we owe it to him."

Hamilton's behaviour and his future relationship with Rosberg will be among a host of new challenges next season when Formula One ushers in a raft of rule changes and faster cars.

The 2017 season will see heavier, faster cars, by up to five seconds a lap, with wider wings and tyres.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner has made it clear that his team will mount a serious title bid next year.

"It's been an amazing season," he said. "Our expectations at the beginning of the year were to get in the top five so as to emerge as the nearest challenger to Mercedes. Things went far better than that.

"The team ended second in the constructors' championship, won two grands prix... achieving a one-two finish in Malaysia plus 14 other podiums, it's been an incredible year for us.

"There's no guarantees, Mercedes will be firmly the favourites next year again, but we're hoping to close that gap and take the challenge to them."

Many paddock observers believe this will give Red Bull's highly-rated designer Adrian Newey a chance to create another race-winning machine.

Red Bull chief Christian Horner believes the changes will increase the pressure on Mercedes, who have won the last three drivers' and constructors' championships following an era of Red Bull domination when four-time champion Vettel won his titles.

With Hamilton determined to get ahead of Rosberg again, new rules, faster cars and unrest about the sport's structure, Formula One's future may take many twists next season.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 29, 2016, with the headline 'Unhappy Wolff warns of 'anarchy''. Print Edition | Subscribe