Christian Horner says despite the 'enormously difficult' situation for Mercedes management after the latest clash between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, the Red Bull boss feels Toto Wolff can afford to allow them to keep battling.
The Red Bull team principal gave his view on the last-lap Mercedes driver clash which saw Rosberg and Hamilton collide at turn two with the British driver going on to win in Austria while his team-mate finished in fourth minus his front wing.
The latest Mercedes driver incident has prompted Wolff to consider implementing team orders on Rosberg and Hamilton, something Horner has experience with having stopped using team orders after Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber clashed in 2013.
Horner, who had Vettel ignore team orders to pass Webber in Malaysia for victory and then threatened to do it again in the same situation, opted to stop using orders on drivers after the incident.
The Red Bull team boss says he understands the tricky situation Wolff has trying to keep his two drivers from repeatedly coming together but feels Mercedes can afford it due to their strengths in the F1 championship.
“It is enormously difficult because no matter how much those guys says they are team players they are contractors and racing for themselves,” Horner said. “They are going for the biggest prize in motorsport. Inevitably they will do what is right for them.
“I think they've got sufficient margin over the rest of the field why do they need to consider that. It creates interest in F1 which it needs with two team-mates who may not be best of mates.
"It was exciting and came down to the last lap. Both were fighting for the world championship. While they are in the situation they are in with the competitiveness they have and the closeness of performance they are obviously going to have these issues and will not be isolated to this race.”
Red Bull profited from the Mercedes clash in Spain when Rosberg and Hamilton crashed out together while leading which set-up Max Verstappen's maiden F1 race victory.
The young Dutch driver benefitted from fighting Mercedes again by jumping up to second place in Austria as Rosberg limped to the finish line in fourth.
“You always want to win on merit and it is never good to benefit on others misfortune,” he said. “But you've got to be there to capitalise. I think for Mercedes, in the long term, how tenable is it for that pairing to continue as a team.”