Mercedes to reduce team orders between Hamilton, Rosberg

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Mercedes Formula 1 chief Toto Wolff says that the team will give more freedom to drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg for the 2016 season, allowing them to race each other more on-track without team orders.

Mercedes’ advantage over the rest of the field in the past two years has been such that Hamilton and Rosberg have only had each other to contend with for the drivers’ championship.

This has resulted in some intra-team friction, particularly when the team refused to let them change strategy on the fly in a bid to gain an advantage.

Hamilton was irked in Mexico and Brazil last year when he was forced to follow Rosberg’s strategy, leaving him to settle for second place in both races.

This could be set to change for 2016, though, with Wolff confirming to reporters earlier this week at Mercedes’ season launch that team orders would be reduced for this season.

“We have reduced [team orders] from last year to this year,” Wolff said. “When we started the project in 2013, there was lot of pressure on the team in order to achieve results and win races.

“In 2014, we won the championship and we confirmed it wasn’t a one-off in 2015. In order to contain that, we tried to put framework around that. Sometimes it functions, sometimes it doesn’t. We learned some interesting lessons, we improved as an organization.

“Lewis and Nico have been together for a couple of years, and it functions pretty well. We owe it to them and we owe it to F1 to let them race. The ride will be a bit more difficult, but I think it is absolutely necessary.

“I have no doubt that, because they are so implemented in the team, they understand the momentum and dynamics in the team.”