Mercedes have decided not to impose team orders on their drivers after a second serious coming together at the last race in Austria. For fans this is a vital as it allows the Mercedes drivers to continue to battle out the championship on-track and wheel to wheel.
However, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg did not walk away unscathed from their last-lap collision in Spielberg, as Mercedes have said to have “reinforced their rules of engagement to include much greater deterrents to contact between our cars”.
When asked during today’s Drivers Press Conference what these rules of engagement were Lewis Hamilton paused for a moment, considering if he could answer the question diplomatically before saying that everything from their meeting today in Brackley was private and confidential. He was certainly happy to be allowed to keep racing his team-mate on-track, and when asked if the “deterrents” were severe Hamilton smiled and said “I should probably say yes”.
Whatever the incentives to avoid coming togethers are though, they are nothing compared to the lure of being crowned World Champion. Hamilton was not ready to call the title battle a two horse race, citing some of Sebastian Vettel’s poor luck in recent the first part of the season, but realistically the Mercedes drivers are the prohibitive championship favourites and if one feels like they have to close the door against the other then they almost certainly will. When asked if the aggressive moves he pulled against his team-mate in Suzuka and Austin last year would still be allowed Lewis said that they were allowed to race, and that the stewards at the time deemed him to be racing – hinting that the on-track sparks may not be about to die down any time soon.
Mercedes have not ruled out team orders as a last resort should any incidents of recklessness happen again – and some strategic ones such as telling Nico to allow Hamilton past in Monaco – could still come into play this season.
Throughout the press conference today Hamilton looked comfortable and at home, which he is after all. He spoke passionately about how thankful he is for the support he gets at Silverstone and how much it helps him. If it carries him to a yet another win on Sunday he could well end the weekend ahead of Rosberg in the standings.