Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are 'free to race' one another as part of their Formula 1 title battle after Mercedes decided against imposing team orders on its drivers.
In the wake of their controversial coming together on the final lap of the Austrian Grand Prix, Toto Wolff had threatened to begin imposing team orders on Hamilton and Rosberg to prevent future incidents with one another that harm the brand.
Indeed, though Wolff himself said the notion of team orders made him 'puke', he speculated it may be the only sanction to maintain relations between the team-mates and title rivals.
Following a meeting at Mercedes F1's base in Brackley, however, the team has confirmed its drivers are 'free to race', but has reiterated they must adhere more stringently to 'Rules of Engagement', adding their 'destiny is in their own hands'.
Should this not be adhered to, team orders will be imposed as a 'last resort'.
Full Mercedes AMG Petronas statement
“This morning at the headquarters of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team in Brackley, UK, positive meetings were held between Toto Wolff, Paddy Lowe, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
“Our drivers were informed that they remain free to race for the World Championship. We believe this is the essence of Formula One, including between team-mates. As passionate racers, we want to see them racing, and so do the fans of Formula One.
“However, this freedom comes with a duty for our drivers to respect the values of the team. In the past five races, there have been three incidents which have cost us over 50 points in the Constructors' Championship.
“We have therefore strengthened our Rules of Engagement to include much greater deterrents to contact between our cars.
“With these in place, we will trust our drivers to manage the situation between them on track. Their destiny is in their own hands.
“The drivers were also reminded that we may issue instructions during the race to protect against a potential loss of Constructors' points, such as we did at this year's Monaco GP when Nico was instructed to let Lewis pass.
“If the drivers do not honour the revised Rules of Engagement, we may impose team orders as a solution of last resort.
“Finally, we restated our belief in Lewis and Nico as the best driver pairing in Formula One.
“Since 2013, we have won together a total of 43 races and 40 further podium finishes, plus two consecutive World Championships. This record speaks for itself.”
Rosberg continues to lead Hamilton – as he has done since the beginning of the season – by 11 points in the overall standings.