Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff has said that dropping either Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg would be a “worst case” for the German team, and he doubts that their intra-team relationship would ever be bad enough to warrant such drastic action.
The media has been rife with speculation about possible action following the collision between the two drivers at the Belgian Grand Prix two weeks ago. When trying to overtake Hamilton, Rosberg made contact with his teammate, leaving the Briton with a puncture.
Hamilton eventually had to retire from the race, causing him to drop a further 18 points back in the race for the world championship behind Rosberg, who went on to finish in second place. The gap now stands at 29 points at the top.
Following a meeting with the team, Rosberg apologized to Hamilton for causing the incident, and both drivers were told in no uncertain terms that a repeat incident would not be tolerated.
Last night, in an interview with the BBC, Wolff admitted that if the two drivers could not work together, the team “would have to take decisions and take the consequences of having a different line-up.”
When asked about his comments in today’s FIA press conference, Wolff made clear that this was only a worst case scenario for Mercedes, and he cannot foresee a situation where the team would have to make a change.
“Obviously at this stage, we are very happy with the line-up, with the two drivers,” he explained. “We have always said that.
“We trust them, and we had a very good discussion with the two of them, a very clear discussion. We’ve always said that this [collision] shouldn’t happen. I think at that stage of the season it was important to re-emphasize that.
“My statement about what would if we couldn’t get on top of it? This is a very very worst case.
“I don’t think we will ever get to that.”
Internal rivalries have famously caused some big splits in Formula 1 over the years. Fernando Alonso walked away from McLaren at the end of 2007 following a tough year alongside Hamilton, but most famously, Alain Prost left McLaren following the arrival of Ayrton Senna. Their rivalry ended in two on-track crashes at championship-deciding races, and was chronicled in the 2010 film Senna.
Of course, the Hamilton-Rosberg rivalry is nowhere near this level yet, but it is creating a great storyline for the 2014 F1 season.
You can watch the latest fight for supremacy between Rosberg and Hamilton on NBCSN tomorrow in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix, live from 8am ET.