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Wolff warns Mercedes drivers against on-track collision

ESPN Staff
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As close as it has come: Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were inches away from a collision in Bahrain © Getty Images

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff has warned his drivers that an on-track clash would result in team orders being implemented this year.

The dominance of the Mercedes car this season means Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton are already in a private battle for this year's drivers' championship, with Robserg leading by four points after victory in Monaco. The Monaco weekend saw tension between the two bubble over after Rosberg claimed pole position in a controversial qualifying session, although Hamilton insists the two team-mates are now back on speaking terms.

However, if the rivalry results in an on-track collision, Wolff has warned that it may mean the team has to intervene with team orders.

"It's so difficult, because you have to ask how did the crash happen? Is it black and white so you can really say it was caused by one single driver or individual? If it really came to the ugly situation where it is clear that it is the fault of one of them, then this would mean our system has failed; our system of letting them manage themselves and letting them race has failed. This would mean we would have to intervene in a way to make the whole thing more boring, which would mean team orders."

But Wolff insists Mercedes is committed to letting its drivers race.

"You have two possibilities. Either you do it the way we do, which one day could end up in tears and people saying 'How stupid were they'. But we are lucky because we have quite a gap to everybody else, which is why we can keep that philosophy, but it would be impossible if we had a close championship [with other teams].

"The other possibility is that you implement team orders and that would freeze the rankings halfway through the race, we would have said 'Stop racing now', but is that something we really want to do?"

In Monaco Daniel Ricciardo closed up on Hamilton in the final stages of the race, and Wolff said Mercedes would learn from that.

"I think you need to do it when you have someone who is really behind you, which we didn't because at one stage we had 14 seconds to Ricciardo, but he [Hamilton] had something in his eye, he lost five or six seconds and the tyre dropped out of the window and here you go, you have him. We need to analyse this lesson for the future because we cannot be as arrogant as saying we want to see them racing, because you can be caught out by surprise."

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