• Mercedes

We owe it to F1 to let drivers race - Wolff

ESPN Staff
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Toto Wolff says Mercedes could change its approach to managing its two drivers once the constructors' title is secure and either Nico Rosberg or Lewis Hamilton is guaranteed the drivers' crown.

Mercedes has stressed that its drivers are free to race and the pair have been locked in a number of two-way battles at races this year. However, data is still shared between the drivers and ultimately team boss Toto Wolff says they recognise that "the team comes first".

In Hungary Mercedes told Hamilton to move over and let Rosberg past when they were on different strategies, but Hamilton refused to comply. Wolff admitted after the race that Mercedes' stance on team orders may have to change and he is now entertaining the possibility of "recalibrating" the way the team operates when it comes down to straight fight between the two.

"Potentially it is going to get more heated, but if we carry on in performing as we do now I am still carefully optimistic that it is only up to the two of them in fighting for the world championship," he told Formula One's official website. "Then we get to a situation where we could discuss if we want to maintain the way we work with each other.

"Do we think it is beneficial for the car, the team, and both sides of the garage? Or do we want to recalibrate a little bit, because it is about the two of them and one remaining world championship? That is a question mark - I don't know, because I haven't been there yet. It is new ground."

Wolff said Mercedes has to think about the wider appeal of Formula One when deciding how it manages its two drivers.

"There is much more than our own little sporting agenda. There is F1 as a sport; the fans; the brands we represent. I think we owe it to everyone to let them race, especially in a season when it is our two cars battling out front.

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"I could be very short-sighted and say I want to win the drivers' and constructors' titles, and this is how we do it: team orders, don't crash into each other, and carry it on like it was always done. But we are going into new ground. Until now it has functioned really well. Could it come to a point where we say it is difficult to manage? It could be, but I don't see it - not with the two of them."

However, with Red Bull winning two of the last five races and Williams looking increasingly competitive since the Austrian Grand Prix, Wolff is still wary of the opposition.

"We have already started to change our approach when we saw how near Williams are. We don't need to push our cars to the absolute limit if we see our two cars have an advantage; they can still race each other on a level that still has a tiny bit of a security margin in terms of temperatures, pressures. You don't need to hit the car hard if you are only racing your team-mate. So that is an approach we have changed and recalibrated after Spielberg [Austria]. But in a situation like Spielberg where Williams are close you need to go flat out."

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