Mercedes could change F1 line-up if tension remains

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Mercedes could be forced to drop either Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg from its Formula One line-up unless the tension between the pair is not eased, according to team boss Toto Wolff.

Hamilton and Rosberg’s rivalry was one of the biggest stories throughout the 2014 season as they battled for the drivers’ championship, with tensions boiling over at last year’s Belgian Grand Prix when they made contact on track.

Further incidents followed this year in China and Austin, with Hamilton’s aggressive overtaking move at the latter riling Rosberg as he saw his title hopes end a month before the end of the season.

The German rallied following this defeat to win the last three races of the year, leading many to tip him for a renewed title battle in 2016 and an escalation of the hostility between both sides of the Mercedes garage.

Speaking to motorsport.com, Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff said that unless tensions between Hamilton and Rosberg were eased, he would have to consider changing the line-up for the good of the team.

“We struggle sometimes in winning races on Sunday and having always one [driver] upset,” Wolff said. “And this spills over into the team. It is something that needs to stop.

“We took the decision of having two evenly matched drivers in order to make the team progress faster and better. It was a very conscious decision three years ago.

“Going forward, we will consider if it is the best set-up for the team. Personality and character within the team is a crucial ingredient for the team success.

“If we feel that it is not aligned with the general consensus, spirit and philosophy within the team, we might consider that when we take a decision, in terms of the driver line-up going forward.

“I think it is important to have talented and fast drivers in the car. But we want to work with nice guys.”

Rosberg’s current Mercedes contract expires at the end of the 2016 season, but the team is understood to have an option on his services for 2017.

Hamilton signed a new deal with the German marque earlier this year, taking him to the end of the 2018 season.