Mercedes director Toto Wolff has reiterated that the F1 team will not favour one or other of its drivers while both remain in contention for the world championship.
Despite the 'testgate' affair and Mercedes' central role in the ongoing concern over tyres in the top flight, both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg remain in the 2013 title fight. Hamilton may not have won a race since joining Mercedes from McLaren over the winter, but currently sits fourth in the overall standings, while Rosberg took full advantage of Sebastian Vettel's late retirement at Silverstone to claim his second victory of the season and consolidate himself in sixth spot.
Although Vettel retains a comfortable points advantage over both Mercedes, even though he posted his first DNF for over a year last time out, Wolff insisted that it was not the time to begin putting all Mercedes' eggs in one basket.
“We have no number one driver because that is not Mercedes', nor the team's, policy,” he told the official F1 website, “We have two drivers who are pushing themselves to the limit, so we would never give anyone number one status - unless at the end of the season one of our drivers is capable of winning the championship, but not the other. But we are far away from this.
“Both of them are capable [of winning the title]. They are so different in their approach - and yet so brilliant. Lewis' instinct-driven skills or Nico's talent and work-driven skills - in the end, it boils down to the same lap time.”
While Rosberg has been able to net a couple of wins this season, Mercedes' qualifying pace has given it five pole positions from eight races, suggesting that, when it got a handle on its tyre woes, it could be the team to beat on a Sunday as well.
“Before Monaco and Silverstone, I would have said that we'd love to move to a 'Saturday championship' - that would be a pretty sure way for us to be in contention for the world championship,” Wolff laughed, “But it's shifting and we are really starting to embrace Sundays. We know that we have to make our tyres last, because I believe that our car right now is the quickest car on the grid. The conditions also play a role: the warmer it gets the more difficult it is for us....”
Tipping the team to be able to repeat Rosberg's Silverstone success at both the Nurburgring and Spa, Wolff refused to be carried away by suggestions that Mercedes could remain as Red Bull's closest rival in the constructors' standings.
“We could even live with fourth place in the constructors',” he admitted, despite Mercedes having moved three points clear of Ferrari in the battle for second spot, “In general, we look much better on Saturdays, but you must never underestimate Ferrari or Lotus. True, when it is cold they are not performing so well, but wait until the hotter races - then we
could be struggling again...."