Formula 1

Hamilton and Rosberg free to race, says Mercedes

Bickering Mercedes team-mates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will remain free to race and will not be shackled by team orders at this weekend’s British Grand Prix.

Hamilton won last Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix, but only after a last-lap overtake of his team-mate, whose aggressive defence at turn two resulted in heavy contact and the loss of his front wing.

Team boss Toto Wolff branded the incident “brainless” afterwards, while the race stewards also took a dim view, handing Rosberg a 10-second penalty - although it was not enough to take an eventual fourth-place finish off him.

Another collision between the pair in Barcelona wiped out both cars - a double DNF causing fury in the Mercedes camp - and, though the drivers’ championship rivals are free to battle it out for now, they have been warned that a repeat will result in harsh action.

“Positive meetings were held between Toto Wolff, Paddy Lowe, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg,” a Silver Arrows statement read with the British Grand Prix just three days away.

“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 team-mates. 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 wen 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.”

It has been claimed that the crashes could impact on Rosberg’s contract situation, the German’s deal only runs to the end of this season.

However, Mercedes were at pains to state they believe their line-up is the best on the grid.

“We restated our belief in Lewis and Nico as the best driver pairing in Formula One,” the team added.

“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.”

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