Mercedes confused on how to control their drivers

Toto Wolff with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg

Toto Wolff with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg

Mercedes‘ Formula 1 title battling drivers have been told they must follow team orders over the remaining eight races of the 2014 championship, however it appears that the dominant team continues to be at a loss on how to exactly control their feuding drivers

The Brackley based team moved to play down Lewis Hamilton’s defiance in Hungary last Sunday, accepting that the Briton was right to refuse to let Nico Rosberg pass, a reversal of initial finger pointing at Hamilton for being defiant and blaming him for costing Rosberg a win.

Now team boss Toto Wolff is singing another tune, “”Nico never got close enough to Lewis to make the move, and we were ultimately comfortable with the decision Lewis made to hold position.”

In the official interview distributed by the German team this week, Wolff added that the pair “will continue to be free to race” for the rest of their 2014 title battle.

Lewis Hamilton leads Nico Rosberg in Hungary

Lewis Hamilton leads Nico Rosberg in Hungary

But he also said that Mercedes’ “priority as a team is always to give ourselves the best chance of winning the race — no matter which driver is fighting for it”.

Basically, after an analysis in the days immediately following the Budapest controversy, that means Mercedes reserves the right to issue similar team orders over the remaining eight races of the season.

Austria’s APA news agency reports that in the days since Hungary Wolff met with fellow bosses Niki Lauda and Paddy Wolff – with Lauda supporting Hamilton’s decision and Wolff more on Rosberg’s side of the camp in the aftermath of the incident –  and subsequently had “long” phone conversations with Hamilton and Rosberg.

The conclusion, Wolff told APA, is that “If Paddy says something on the radio, this is followed even if at that moment it appears irrational to the drivers”.

Nico Rosberg with Lewis Hamilton

Nico Rosberg with Lewis Hamilton

The report said Rosberg and even Briton Hamilton have agreed to the clarified rules of engagement.

“Our agreement from the beginning of the season is that the other car should not be disturbed if it is on another strategy,” Wolff continued.

But a situation like in Hungary, where Rosberg never came close enough to Hamilton to mount a potential overtaking move, is different.

“No one should have to come off the gas,” he explained. “What happened (in Hungary) has happened now, but whenever there are problems, then at least we must learn as much as possible from them.”

This all seems well an truly sorted on paper, but in the heat of battle things these well thought out plans may come to naught as they did in Hungary. We have not seen the end of this saga and with nine decisive races to go there will be more intense Rosberg vs Hamilton battles… watch this space!(GMM)