Mercedes co-chief Toto Wolff has admitted that the team may have no choice but to resort to issuing orders to its drivers if allowing them to race freely could jeopardize a win or strong result.
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have dominated proceedings at the beginning of the 2014 Formula 1 season, and their success has been made all the more refreshing by the fact that the team has not stopped them from racing each other. In the past, the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull have issued team orders to prevent a battle between its drivers, ordinarily favoring the ‘number one’ driver.
In Bahrain, Hamilton and Rosberg were embroiled in a race-long battle for the lead that produced a stunning spectacle for the fans watching, but there were a number of heart-in-mouth moments for the Mercedes pit-wall. Nevertheless, both drivers brought their cars home to claim one of three one-two finishes so far this season.
However, Wolff has conceded that if such a battle ever risked compromising a result, he would not hesitate to give team orders.
“There might be situations where you can’t lose lots of time in battle if you have your enemy right up your back,” he explained to the BBC.
“Bahrain was a very particular situation because our package worked very well there and we had quite a competitive advantage, so it’s easier to take a decision for the sake of racing because you know you have quite a margin to the guy in third place.
“The narrower that margin gets, the more you have to look out. Our rule is that the competition is enemy number one, not your teammate.
“There might be situations in the race where you have to consider that, but we will see what happens.”
Hamilton and Rosberg’s battle looks set to continue for the rest of the season, and could test their friendship as well as their driving ability.
For Mercedes, the target has to be winning both titles, and if it takes team orders to make it happen, Wolff and colleague Paddy Lowe would not hesitate to implement them.