Toto Wolff has called on Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to maintain “transparency” after seeing Mercedes' dominance challenged in Austria.
With neither Lewis Hamilton nor Nico Rosberg maximising their first laps in Q3 ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix, Williams was able to take advantage and lock out the front row on Saturday. Mercedes did recover to take a one-two on Sunday but did not enjoy the same advantage as previous races and Wolff said he wants to make sure the team sees the bigger picture as well as Hamilton v Rosberg.
“I think our first priority must be to let the two compete against each other,” Wolff said. “They are on such a close level and we don't want to interfere from the outside and manipulate it in one or the other direction. So the playing field must be kept equal, that's for sure.
“Nevertheless, [on Saturday] we had a bit of a moment when after FP3 we were not in good shape. The atmosphere wasn't like in the races before. We saw that it was getting very competitive, that transparency was suffering a little bit and we need to make sure that this is not detrimental to the team.
“We need the knowledge of the whole group. We need the whole group working together and it's not only the drivers, it's the engineers on both sides of the garage. This is the spirit we want to maintain. It's not about winning the next couple of races but hopefully staying competitive for the next couple of years. Therefore every race we need to learn from, and we can only learn if we have an open and transparent way of working with each other.”
When asked if that would become a harder task as the season goes on, Wolff admitted the championship battle would need managing.
“I think we just need to keep the transparency level where it is and not become [less] transparent. It's clearly becoming very competitive; the longer we go in to the season the more competitive it is going to get and I think it's important for us to manage it in the right way or try to manage it in the right way.”
Asked for specific examples, Wolff said he didn't want to see the car's potential compromised by an internal fight between drivers and crews.
“Transparency is all about exchanging views about what the car does and then learning from each other. For me we have to look very carefully at it but we don't want to keep the lap which is the lap showing how capable the car is until the final qualifying, because we need to understand where we can improve the car. That is one of the examples – and I'm not saying this has happened – we just don't want to see any sandbagging and aborted laps when we need to learn about the car.”