Toto Wolff thinks that, if the title is on the line in Abu Dhabi, one of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen may crash into the other if it means securing the World Championship.
The Mercedes team principal feels that this could end up being a hark back to the years of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, who collided with each other twice at Suzuka in their title-defining battles, with the two taking a World Championship each from those crashes in successive years.
Hamilton and Verstappen have maintained that they still hold a good relationship, but they have already had two high-profile collisions which have punctuated their battle this season – at Silverstone and Monza.
With the World Championship battle still extremely close between the Mercedes and Red Bull drivers, there is a good chance that the fight may go down to the final race of the season.
If that does happen, Wolff is convinced that whoever is in the lead of the standings at that point will probably try to eliminate their rival – although he would never instruct Hamilton to make such a move on track.
“If it was to come to the scenario of the last race in Abu Dhabi and they were to be racing each other for the title, whoever is in front is absolutely going to try to do the same as in the Senna-Prost years,” Wolff said in an interview with the Daily Mail.
“What happened in Monza? Verstappen took Lewis out because he was about to overtake and he was quicker. And that is totally understandable.
“If you are racing for the championship and you see it fading away because the other guy is overtaking you, what tool have you got other than the one that makes sure he can’t overtake?
“We’ve seen it with Schumacher and Villeneuve, we saw it with Senna and Prost twice.
“I would never give the instruction to crash into anyone else but if they go to that last race and whoever is in front wins the championship, they will be racing each other, hard.
“And I don’t think you can control it, Hamilton and Verstappen, I don’t think you want to control it because they are the gladiators in their machines.
“That is what makes this sport so interesting, because it is ingrained in our nature that we don’t like confrontation and then one is intrigued to see how that relationship unfolds.”
Verstappen currently leads Hamilton by 12 points heading into this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix.