‘Mercedes deserve credit for letting drivers race’


Rather than criticising Mercedes for interfering in the title showdown, Toto Wolff says the team “deserves credit” for letting the drivers race for the past three seasons.

Mercedes drew the ire of Lewis Hamilton when they tried to intervene in Sunday’s title-decider in Abu Dhabi.

With the Drivers’ Championship at stake Hamilton needed to push Rosberg off the podium and began to back up his team-mate in the closing laps of the grand prix.

Mercedes initially asked him to up the pace before tech chief Paddy Lowe made it clear that it was an “instruction” and not a request.

Despite Hamilton refusing to obey and continuing to back up Rosberg, the German held on to finish second thereby clinching his first World title.

But while Rosberg celebrated, Wolff was left to defend Mercedes’ actions in Abu Dhabi.

“[We have] let them race over the last three seasons without interference,” the Mercedes motorsport boss told F1i.

“I think the team deserves credit for letting them race and not have decided to not have had a number one and a number two, because that’s the easiest solution.

“It was clear we would only interfere if our number one objective of winning the race is under threat.

“You can be philosophical, wondering whether such a particular situation of a World Championship to be won or lost for a driver, you need to forget about those principles that have helped us these last four years.

“But then on the other side does that mean only for the deciding race? Or does it mean straight from the beginning? Because Melbourne could be the deciding race at the beginning of the season.

“You could say let them off the leash and full steam ahead, provide great entertainment, fantastic headlines like we have had I guess, but [that would perhaps mean] less race wins and maybe less championships.

“I’m prepared to have the discussion because I’m just not sure yet.”