‘Free to fight unless it turns nasty’


Toto Wolff has reiterated that Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton will remain free to race until such a time that it becomes a “nasty fight”…

Toto Wolff has reiterated that Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton will remain free to race until such a time that it becomes a “nasty fight.”

Based on early season form it appears as if this year’s title race is a two-driver fight between the Mercedes drivers.

After seven races Rosberg is leading by 22 points over Hamilton despite having won just two races compared to his team-mate’s four.

All of Hamilton’s wins, though, have been in 1-2 results with Rosberg pushing him hard on occasions as he did to the German in Monaco.

Their fights have been clean to date with both drivers give one another room and as long as they stay that way, Wolff sees no reason to stop them racing.

“It’s very difficult because we let them fight unless it’s a nasty fight,” he told JamesAllenOnF1. “We are sharing data and they must be transparent with each other.

“There can’t be any dirty moves.

“What happened a few years ago with Lewis and Fernando at McLaren is unacceptable in our team and would not happen, there would be severe consequences if that happened.

“Nevertheless, they are always trying to find that tiny little advantage in order to beat each other, so now we let them race, but there could well be a certain stage during the season where we say we cannot do this any more.”

The Mercedes motorsport boss did also concede that their battles could be curbed if they lead to problems with the cars.

He added: “We let them race in Canada, where we lost one car and the second nearly retired and we still don’t know exactly 100 percent why.

“So if we find out that racing at the highest level is detrimental to our campaign, it could well be that we decide to take a step back. But this is a constant dynamic process that we analyse every week.

“It’s not a general principal of saying let’s let them race or let’s have team orders, it’s something that we are thinking about all the time.”

As for claims that the two drivers are at ‘war’ especially after Monaco, Wolff says that’s okay as long as it is not detrimental to the team or the Mercedes brand.

“There’s always going to be a war between the drivers because you need to beat your team-mate – he’s the one who is between you and your successful career. If your team-mate beats you, your market value deteriorates.

“You can have a war which is detrimental to the team, one where the drivers are clashing with each other, not speaking to each other, damaging the spirit in the team, damaging the brand because they behave in an arrogant way in front of the media…

“Or it can be a very subtle war, where they just want to beat each other and get any possible advantage throughout the whole of the weekend. What we see, what the media see, is a show.”