‘Yes, Mercedes will interfere’

Date published: July 8 2016

Stopping short of calling it team orders, Toto Wolff says Mercedes "would probably interfere" if faced with another Austrian GP situation.

The motorsport boss met with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg on Thursday morning to hash out new rules of engagement for the drivers.

Those rules came with strong deterrents, that the team hopes will be enough to ensure Hamilton and Rosberg don't cost the team points as they did in Austria.

But while Mercedes said at the time that the drivers were "free to race", Wolff has revealed that the pit wall may yet interfere if they find themselves in another situation where the drivers cars are faltering in the final stages of a grand pri.

"The answer is yes – and I tell you why," he told Sky Sports F1.

"We had a situation where both cars were clearly, I wouldn't say damaged, but the brakes were not in the state that they could properly race each other. We were coming to a point that only the two of them raced each other and the brakes were near failure.

"We saw what happened to [Sergio] Perez, he had a brake failure and he ended up in the wall. We saw [Felipe] Massa retiring the car. And in that particular situation we need to stop the racing before we have two cars breaking down.

"So we would probably interfere and say 'you haven't got the car underneath you to race'."

Wolff was also questioned about suggestions that the deterrents on the table could be a race suspension.

Asked if he would really bench a driver like Hamilton, he said: "If we would leave Lewis at home, the system we have created three years ago of letting the drivers race has failed. It is a failure of all of us.

"It's their responsibility because none of us can grab the steering wheel in the cockpit. Then it's a failure of the system and obviously having two equal cars race each other doesn't function.

"Would we go as a far [as a suspension]? Yes, we would go as far [as that] to make sure that it doesn't happen in the future anymore, that's 100% clear. We have a massive organisation and one of the best brands in the world. I hope we never go there but at the end of the day you need to make decisions in order to avoid that in the future.

"I'm in very positive spirit and very optimistic spirit it's not going to be needed."