Mercedes drivers ‘remain free to race’, team orders a ‘last resort’

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Mercedes Formula 1 drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg remain free to race after “positive meetings” were held with team bosses ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix.

Hamilton and Rosberg clashed on the final lap of last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, prompting team boss Toto Wolff to suggest that team orders may be used in the future to prevent such incidents.

Hamilton said that he hoped Mercedes would not take such action, while Rosberg remained adamant that he had done nothing wrong in defending his position from his teammate.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Mercedes confirmed that meetings had been held between the drivers and team officials, in which it was decided that team orders will not be used.

However, the team said that its “rules of engagement” have been strengthened to deter Hamilton and Rosberg from clashing on-track, with team orders being considered a “last resort”.

Here is the statement in full:

”This morning at the headquarters of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team in Brackley, UK, positive meetings were held between Toto Wolff, Paddy Lowe, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg,” it reads.

“Our drivers were informed that they remain free to race for the world championship.

“We believe this is the essence of Formula One including between teammates. As passionate racers, we want to see them racing, and so do the fans of Formula One.

“However, this freedom comes with a duty for our drivers to respect the values of the team.

“In the past five races, there have been three incidents which have cost us over 50 points in the constructors’ championship.

“We have therefore strengthened our rules of engagement to include much greater deterrents to contact between our cars.

“With these in place, we will trust our drivers to manage the situation between them on track. Their destiny is in their own hands.

“The drivers were also reminded that we may issue instructions during the race to protect against a potential loss of constructors’ points, such as we did at this year’s Monaco GP when Nico was instructed to let Lewis pass.

“If the drivers do not honour the revised rules of engagement, we may impose team orders as a solution of last resort.

“Finally, we restated our belief in Lewis and Nico as the best driver pairing in Formula One.

“Since 2013, we have won together a total of 43 races and 40 further podium finishes, plus two consecutive world championships. This record speaks for itself.”