Title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg could be ordered to tone down their on-track rivalry if the other teams become more competitive, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has hinted.
So far this season Mercedes have allowed the pair to race each other when given the opportunity, with their battle for first place in Bahrain earlier this month likely to be remembered for the foreseeable future.
As a result, Mercedes have been lavished with praise for not limiting their drivers with team orders.
Wolff, though, has revealed that the freedom Hamilton and Rosberg are allowed on track would be restricted if the rest of the field are able to compete with them on a regular basis.
"Bahrain was particular because our package worked very well and we had quite a competitive advantage there, so it's easier to take a decision for the sake of racing because you know you're going to have quite a margin to the car in third place," Wolff told Autosport.
"The more narrow that margin gets the more you have to look out for competitors, and our rule number one is that the team-mate is not enemy number one, the competition is, and there might be situations in the race when you have to consider that fact.
"You cannot [afford to] lose lots of time in a battle if you have your enemy right up your back."