Mercedes to give drivers more freedom


Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will be given more freedom to race each other during the 2016 season, as the outfit relaxes its stance on team orders.

Hamilton and Rosberg were first paired together in 2013 and their rivalry intensified as Mercedes emerged as Formula 1’s dominant team under the 1.6-litre turbocharged power unit era.

After a clash at the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix, which threw away another probable 1-2 finish, Mercedes introduced stricter guidelines to ensure that they did not jeopardise future results.

Both drivers were often placed on similar strategies in 2015 to keep the battle as fair as possible, but Wolff, speaking a week ahead of the new season, has relaxed the rules for 2016.

“We have reduced that from last year to this year,” Wolff is quoted by ESPN.

“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.

“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.

“With Lewis and Nico, they have been together for a couple of years, and it functions pretty well. We owe it to them and we owe it to Formula 1 to let them race.

“The ride will be a bit more difficult, but I think it is absolutely necessary.

“I have no doubt that, because they are so implemented in the team, they understand the momentum and dynamics in the team.”

Asked if allowing his drivers to race more freely in 2016 could hand an advantage to anticipated main rival Ferrari, Wolff responded: “No, I don’t think so.

“We are reducing the rules because we have got more comfortable in working with each other – 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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