Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will be free to race each other, within clearly defined limits, in Sunday’s season-opening Australian Formula One Grand Prix, after sitting down with Mercedes bosses to clarify team orders.
“I can already tell you now that there will be battles between Lewis and I – and that is important for the TV and for everybody, for us as a team,” said Rosberg, who will start in third place at Albert Park.
Team mate Hamilton, the 2008 champion with McLaren, qualified in pole position on Saturday.
“Of course you cannot go crazy as team mates because at the same time we are both racing for Mercedes, we are both here to have great success for Mercedes and help bring Mercedes to the front,” said Rosberg.
“We need to find the fine line. We have done so in preparing for it and really going through it in detail so we know what to expect.”
Mercedes have started the season as favourites, with Hamilton and Rosberg widely tipped to be battling each other for the championship.
Team orders caused a storm last season at the Malaysian Grand Prix when both champions Red Bull and Mercedes told their drivers to hold station to save fuel and make sure of the points.
Red Bull’s world champion Sebastian Vettel ignored the call, passing Australian team mate Mark Webber to win, while Rosberg obeyed and finished behind third-placed Hamilton.
New fuel regulations have come into force this season, with drivers limited to 100 kg from start to finish compared to 150-160 kg last year, and Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit is a difficult track for fuel economy.
Mercedes Motorsport Director Toto Wolff said that it was hard to establish parameters, such as whoever went into the first corner stayed in front.
“We are not doing this,” he told reporters. “Everyone gave his opinion about how we should proceed, and we defined that our main competitors are the other teams. We need to make sure that as a team we are running strongly.”
“Then it is to be decided case-by-case with what is going on with the cars. It could go one race in one direction and the other race in another direction.” (Reuters)
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