Mercedes executive director (business) Toto Wolff says the team will let Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg fight on track this season.

Rosberg was told not to challenge Hamilton by then team principal Ross Brawn during last year's Malaysian Grand Prix as the team looked to bring both cars home in a comfortable third and fourth place. However, with Mercedes emerging as the pre-season title favourites, Wolff was asked if he would allow the two drivers to race each other for victory if they were running first and second, and he said he trusts them to be able to.

"We are in a lucky situation in that we not only have two of the quickest drivers in Formula One these days, but also two very intelligent drivers who have a very fair and balanced relationship with each other," Wolff said.

"We've had this conversation before, and of course we all want to see the team progressing, moving forward, but we are also here to race each other. As long as we respect the rules, racing each other in the team - and I have no doubts this will happen - we are up for racing this year."

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And Hamilton believes both he and Rosberg have shown they will be able to maintain their friendship even if they are fighting each other for the championship this season.

"Nico and I have been racing together since we were 13 and since our first race in Italy we've been racing at the front, finishing one-two through the whole race, and we remained good friends after that," Hamilton said. "We were team-mates in 2001, finishing first and second in the European Championship and were friends after that.

"We've raced each other in Formula Three and now Formula One, and F1 is a lot more intense, the competition a lot more fierce, it's serious business. But we'll always maintain the respect for each other and friendship we have."