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.