Mercedes may resort to team orders if rivals get closer

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Mercedes co-chief Toto Wolff has admitted that the team may have no choice but to resort to issuing orders to its drivers if allowing them to race freely could jeopardize a win or strong result.

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have dominated proceedings at the beginning of the 2014 Formula 1 season, and their success has been made all the more refreshing by the fact that the team has not stopped them from racing each other. In the past, the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull have issued team orders to prevent a battle between its drivers, ordinarily favoring the ‘number one’ driver.

In Bahrain, Hamilton and Rosberg were embroiled in a race-long battle for the lead that produced a stunning spectacle for the fans watching, but there were a number of heart-in-mouth moments for the Mercedes pit-wall. Nevertheless, both drivers brought their cars home to claim one of three one-two finishes so far this season.

However, Wolff has conceded that if such a battle ever risked compromising a result, he would not hesitate to give team orders.

“There might be situations where you can’t lose lots of time in battle if you have your enemy right up your back,” he explained to the BBC.

“Bahrain was a very particular situation because our package worked very well there and we had quite a competitive advantage, so it’s easier to take a decision for the sake of racing because you know you have quite a margin to the guy in third place.

“The narrower that margin gets, the more you have to look out. Our rule is that the competition is enemy number one, not your teammate.

“There might be situations in the race where you have to consider that, but we will see what happens.”

Hamilton and Rosberg’s battle looks set to continue for the rest of the season, and could test their friendship as well as their driving ability.

For Mercedes, the target has to be winning both titles, and if it takes team orders to make it happen, Wolff and colleague Paddy Lowe would not hesitate to implement them.

UPDATED: INDYCAR Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama under red-flag race stoppage due to rain

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UPDATE: The INDYCAR Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is under a red-flag race stoppage after 19 laps due to rain and puddling on the racing surface at Barber Motorsports Park.

Cleaners and dryers are on the track to try and get some of the water off the racing surface. The low spots on the track, as well as the front stretch, have been particularly troublesome and led to several spinouts and at least two wrecks (Charlie Kimball and outside front pole sitter Will Power).

Power’s day is done after suffering irreparable damage to the left side of his car after hydroplaning on the front straight and running into the inside retaining wall.

ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS:

Although rain has been falling for nearly an hour and the Barber Motorsports Park 2.3-mile permanent road course is drenched, the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is underway on NBCSN.

The start of the race was moved up from 3:38 p.m. ET to take the green flag at 3:08 p.m. ET.

Josef Newgarden is the defending winner of this race and also will start from the pole for today’s race.

While the race is scheduled for 90 laps, there’s a possibility that if the weather worsens or if lightning appears, it could potentially be shortened to just two hours.

As can be expected, all cars are on rain tires to maximize grip.

Catch the race live on NBCSN.