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Mercedes owes Hamilton, Rosberg freedom to race

Toto Wolff says Mercedes 'owes it to the drivers and F1' to let Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg race each other in 2016.
Toto Wolff says Mercedes 'owes it to the drivers and F1' to let Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg race each other in 2016.

Speaking at a Mercedes event in Stuttgart, Wolff says he's loosened the ties on the two drivers and wants them to battle one another fairly this season after the past two years produced a fractious relationship within the team.

Since their clash at the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix Mercedes installed a set of rules in order to avoid a repeat episode and despite tensions rising last year Wolff is confident letting the pair race is both good for the fans and the drivers.

“When we started the project in 2013, there was lot of pressure on the team in order to achieve results and win races. We have done OK. In 2014, we won the championship and we confirmed it wasn't a one off in 2015,” Wolff said in Stuttgart. “In order to contain that, we tried to put framework around that. Sometimes it functions, sometimes it doesn't. We learned some interesting lessons, we improved as an organisation.

"We owe it to them and we owe it to Formula One to let them race. The ride will be a bit more difficult. But I think that is absolutely necessary. I have no doubt that they understand the momentum and dynamics in the team.

"You cannot expect them to schmooze around. One will try to beat the other. They have great respect for the organisation behind the team, the team sticks together, Lewis and Nico are very much part of it.

"I have no doubt we will have some interesting moments on track, that is part of the rivalry and it is part of Formula 1 but all within the spirit of the team."

With regulations on radio communications much tighter in 2016, Wolff also feels it will naturally allow drivers to fight more on track as they will have less information and support from the pitwall during a race, qualifying or practice session.

The Mercedes chief also feels the heightened battles predicted between its two drivers won't act negatively against the team and let its rivals take an advantage of it.

“I don't think so because we are reducing the rules because we have got more comfortable in working with each other,” he said. There is great respect among the individuals. I don't feel it will be different than it has been in the last years.”

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