Mercedes: No team orders between Hamilton and Rosberg

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Mercedes co-chief Toto Wolff has said that drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton will be free to race without team orders this season, as the Silver Arrows look poised to be the pace-setter throughout the first few races.

During practice for the Australian Grand Prix, Rosberg and Hamilton were dominant, topping two of the three sessions and even enjoying a 1-2 in FP2. Although rain showers threatened to scupper the team’s hopes of pole position during qualifying on Saturday, Hamilton responded in great fashion to snatch P1 away from home favorite Daniel Ricciardo with his final lap time, whilst Rosberg qualified in third place. It also marked the 100th Mercedes-powered pole position.

With team orders at Ferrari and Red Bull sparking controversy over the past few years, Wolff confirmed that the team would not be employing a similar tactic because of the great relationship between its drivers.

“They are completely free to race because this is why we are here,” Wolff explained. “We’ve had some discussions about it, we’ve put it down, but I don’t think this is going to be an issue or a problem.”

The team did use team orders at last year’s Malaysian Grand Prix, where the faster Rosberg was prevented from passing Hamilton for the final podium position. However, Wolff insists that under the duumvirate of himself and Paddy Lowe (working in tandem as ‘team principal’), the team won’t be doing the same in 2014 despite there being some advantages to it.

“We need to make sure that as a team we are running strongly,” he said. “Then it is to be decided case by case what is going on in the cars. It could go one race in one direction and another race in the other direction, but I think all situations we have discussed and found a solution which is acceptable to Nico, Lewis and the team.”

Mercedes will be gunning to win the first race of the season today in Australia, with coverage starting at 1:30am ET on NBCSN and Live Extra. You can watch via live stream here.

Supercross points leader Eli Tomac finds silver linings in interruption

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Though his Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship charge was put on hold, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had a silver lining for Eli Tomac.

Off the road while the season was postponed for nearly three months, the points leader was able to be present as his girlfriend, Jessica, gave birth to their daughter, Lev, on April 26

“A huge blessing for us there,” Tomac told host Mike Tirico during a “Lunch Talk Live” interview (click on the video above) in which he also joked about becoming a pro at busting off diaper changes. “That was one good blessing for us as we had our daughter on a Sunday, that would have been on a travel day coming back from the race in Las Vegas.

NBCSN

“That was probably the only positive out of all this mess was being able to be there for the birth.”

But there also could be more good fortune for Tomac as the series resumes Sunday at Salt Lake City, Utah (3-4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, 4-6 p.m. on NBC).

The final seven events will be held over 22 days in Rice-Eccles Stadium, which sits at just over 4,000 feet.

The elevation could favor Tomac, who was born and lives in Colorado and is accustomed to riding and training at altitude, which is a departure for many Supercross riders (many of whom hail from California and Florida).

COVID-19 TESTING REQUIRED: Supercross outlines protocols for last seven races

“That’s going to be the test for us,” said the Kawasaki rider, who five of the first 10 races this season. “We’re at elevation in Salt Lake, so when you’re on a motorcycle, you have a little bit of a loss of power. That’s just what happens when you come up in elevation. And a lot of guys train at sea level, and we’re at 4,000 to 5,000 feet, so cardio-wise, we’ll be pushed to the limit.

“Most of our races are Saturday nights and back to back weeks, but this go around it’s Sunday and Wednesday, so recovery is going to be key.”

Supercross will race Sunday and Wednesday for the next three weeks, capping the season with the June 21 finale, which also will be shown on NBCSN from 3-4:30 p.m. ET and NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

Tomac, who holds a three-point lead over Ken Roczen (who also recently visited “Lunch Talk Live”), told Tirico he had been riding for 90 minutes Thursday morning on a track outside Salt Lake City.

“Most of us we can rely on our past riding pretty well,” Tomac said. “The question is if you can go the distance. That’s what a lot of guys have to train on is going the distance. We go 20 minutes plus a lap. That’s what you’ve got to keep sharp is your general muscles. Within two to three days, your brain starts warming up more if you take a few weeks off the motorcycle.”

Here is the schedule and TV information for the rest of the season:

  • Sunday, May 31 (3-4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4-6 p.m. ET, NBC);
  • Wednesday, June 3 ( 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).
Eli Tomac rides his No. 3 Kawasaki in the Feb. 29 race at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia (Charles Mitchell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).