Mercedes Formula 1 chief Toto Wolff says that the recent revision of the team’s rules of engagement with drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg acts as a “final warning” following their on-track clash in Austria.
Hamilton and Rosberg collided on the final lap of the race last weekend at the Red Bull Ring when battling for the lead of the race.
Rosberg was deemed to have caused the clash by the race stewards, but Wolff called the incident “brainless” and said that the team may invoke team orders to prevent a repeat in the future.
Mercedes issued a statement on Thursday confirming that it would not be using team orders for the time being, but that new deterrents had been discussed with Hamilton and Rosberg.
Wolff expanded on this statement when talking with the media at Silverstone on Thursday, saying that it acted as a last warning for both drivers.
“We’ve had a warning, and this is the final warning,” Wolff said.
“It is a scenario none of us want to be in. They are wired in a certain way, and that’s exactly why they drive for Mercedes.
“But there have been three accidents in five races, and that situation somehow needs containment.
“It’s clear for both drivers that we go through a tough time when we lose points when the cars collide. And that was acknowledged.
“If you have a yellow card, will it change your way of tackling it or not? Because you know what happens with a second yellow.”
Wolff spoke of the importance of letting his drivers race, not wanting to deny F1 of one of its most entertaining on-track rivalries in recent times.
In a couple of years we might look back and say Rosberg-Hamilton was one of the best battles. I am aware of that and I don’t want to over-manage it,” Wolff said.
“We want them to be race drivers, they are the stars of the show. We don’t want to belittle them in public, which is why I am reluctant to share in public the possible sanctions for them.
“We don’t want to have them go around like puppies, but equally let us not have three shunts in five races. Let’s get that ratio in a place that is acceptable for the team. Three in five is not a good one.
“If it was mission impossible, that would mean we didn’t see any clean racing out there. But there is clean racing out there.
“The great racing is hard racing, trying to pass and outsmart the competitor without contact. I believe, especially considering the skill set of those two, that clean racing is possible and achievable.”