ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX – Race results
Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff has hinted the team may be forced to reconsider the way it manages its drivers going forward after Lewis Hamilton's repeated defiance of team orders during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix reportedly left management unimpressed.
Leader Hamilton attempted to hold up second place Nico Rosberg during the closing laps of the Yas Marina race in an effort to play the close following Max Verstappen and then Sebastian Vettel into contention as a last ditch attempt to bolster his waning title hopes.
However, the tactic received short shrift from the team who told him more than once to pick up his pace to prevent the fast approaching Vettel from getting in the hunt for race victory. When Hamilton ignored those orders – retorting that he wanted to 'race' -, the matter escalated with Paddy Lowe coming onto the radio ordering him to comply.
With Rosberg going on to finish second to take the title away from Hamilton regardless, the Briton's insubordination has reportedly not gone down well with Mercedes behind the scenes, with Wolff admitting his actions could force the team into a rethink on how it approaches its feuding drivers.
READ: Hamilton: I don't know why Mercedes didn't let us race…
“It's not an easy one,” he admitted. “Over these last few years we have really tried to create an environment and a set of values within the team and I think one of the reasons is that the individuals in this team, and the drivers are very much part of it, report in to these values.
“You cannot invent a rule for every single situation in motor racing and it would make it the most boring sport ever if you would have a corporate solution for every single situation.
“We saw a highly entertaining race with lots of controversy to talk about, lots to write about and isn't that at the end of the day what we want to achieve? The tricky bit here is what does that mean for the future of the team? And how can we race and not be over corporate and boring and allow them to race?”
“Paddy with the instruction is the highest escalation we have in our rules of engagement. We have invented those rules of engagement together, a while ago, on a table in Melbourne.”
With reports in the morning papers suggesting Mercedes could feel justified in sanctioning Hamilton for failing to comply with the team's 'Rules of Engagement' – handed down after their Austrian Grand Prix coming together -, Wolff says he is nonetheless happy with the way the team has coped with Rosberg and Hamilton's occasionally bitter rivalry over three years.
“It wasn't the knowledge that we have let them race over the last three years, we could have had a much smoother run and decided 'you are going to win or you or going to win'.
“This is how it's happened at Red Bull and Ferrari many years ago, as well as how it may have happened at other teams, so I'm not sure we are in the credit-taking business because it needs headlines, but I think we have coped quite well with that situation the last few years.”
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