"Unfortunately, yes," Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff told
reporters when asked whether the dominant team might change their
"It would be too early to elaborate in detail because the devil lies
in the detail. We are all fans and we owe it to ourselves and
everybody out there to let them race," he continued.
"Today that philosophy has ended in Mercedes losing many valuable
points and we don’t want to end up in Abu Dhabi, with a season where
we lost the championship, be it constructors’ or drivers’, because
we were too much race fans."
Hitherto the team have been clear in allowing their drivers to race
each other, accepting that it is in the interests of the sport to
provide exciting races and to avoid the sort of processions seen in
the past when one team is dominant.
However, they have been shaken by Red Bull winning the last two
races and looking more competitive than expected at a long and fast
track that should have favoured the Mercedes hybrid power unit.
Sunday's collision, with Hamilton retiring with a damaged car and
Rosberg finishing second to take his overall lead to 29 points with
seven races remaining, left Mercedes fighting fires on two fronts.
There have been spats and sparks between the drivers ever since it
became apparent that they had the best car on the grid and were
prepared to go wheel-to-wheel for the biggest prize in motorsport.
Hamilton rejected on Sunday a suggestion that they were always an
accident waiting to happen, emphasising that it was an avoidable
collision and they had plenty of experience, but Mercedes have
certainly been bracing for it.
At Spa, with Rosberg's front wing slicing Hamilton's rear tyre as
they battled for the lead on lap two, the moment arrived.
"Now we are at the point which we always discussed, no?," said
Wolff, looking around at the scrum of reporters.
"Is it going to happen or not? An accident waiting to happen – it’s
unacceptable. Racing accidents can happen, racing accidents among
team mates shouldn’t happen. Racing accidents among team mates on
lap number two of a 44-lap race with a dominant car should be a
"It's exactly that point which we hoped we would never reach."
Mercedes have had so many clear-the-air meetings already this season
they could almost add them to their regular weekend programme and
there will be a few more to come after Hamilton accused Rosberg of
hitting him deliberately.
[to top of second column]
The incendiary comments dropped into the paddock like a match in a hay
"We just had a meeting about it and he basically said he did it on
purpose. He said he did it on purpose," the Briton told reporters.
"He said he could have avoided it. He said ‘I did it to prove a point’"
Wolff suggested that point was to show Hamilton he was prepared to hold
his line, rather than any payback for previous incidents.
But with many in the paddock wondering whether the governing
International Automobile Federation should investigate, Mercedes now
have to restore order with a weight of media and public pressure on
Hamilton, in comments immediately after the race, doubted that Rosberg
would receive any real sanction but that could also force their hand.
"It reminds me of when I was at school, the teachers will say something
but they won't do anything. The stewards didn't do anything...so I am
just going to have to push like hell," said the 2008 champion.
Wolff indicated in response that Rosberg could not expect to get off
"If Lewis has said that it’s going to be a slap on the wrist, and that
there’s going to be no consequence, then he’s not aware of what
consequences we can implement," he said.
"Today we’ve seen the limits of the slap on the wrist. Maybe the slap on
the wrist is not enough."
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)
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