No ’harakiri’ between Mercedes teammates - Wolff
"They can fight against each other"
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have been told the ’rules’ for their future wheel-to-wheel battles.
The Mercedes pair thrilled the F1 world last Sunday with their duel for victory in Bahrain, despite bosses urging them to "bring both cars home".
It was rumoured that the team denied the drivers ignored team orders for appearance only, and would quietly curb that sort of behaviour behind the scenes ahead of future races.
The fight in Bahrain was also timely for F1’s ’show’, in the wake of hefty criticism of the controversial new rules.
"I am so happy the race was so well received by the fans," said German Rosberg, "because the welfare of the sport is very important to me.
"In my eyes, the criticism of the new regulations was very unfair, especially so early on, and the negativity was getting louder and louder.
"For me, there was no better way to silence it than to deliver one of the most exciting races in the history of formula one," he added.
But team director Toto Wolff insists Bahrain was not simply a one-off.
"They can fight against each other," he told Sport Bild magazine, "so long as there are no harakiri-manoeuvres.
"So you’re not driving with the same aggressiveness against your own teammate as you would against the others," Wolff explained.
He said Mercedes’ attitude to ’team orders’ is important, given that both Hamilton and Rosberg are conferred equal status inside the Brackley based team, whose W05 car is currently utterly dominant.
"We are here to race," said Wolff, "we have two really good drivers who can win races and deserve to be world champion."
Christian Danner, a former driver turned commentator, says Mercedes’ approach will be welcomed by many.
"Mercedes is very dominant," he told German television n-tv, "but in contrast to what we have seen over the years with Ferrari and Red Bull, Rosberg and Hamilton can race freely.
"This is not only a very brave decision, but also the right decision for the sport," he applauded.