Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff has spelled out the way that instructions will be given to their drivers in future after tensions were raised when the team asked Lewis Hamilton to let Nico Rosberg pass in Hungary.
Hamilton was leading Nico Rosberg, who had one more stop to do than his team-mate and therefore needing to drive at a higher pace, when Mercedes asked the 2008 world champion to move over to ensure Rosberg could maximise his strategy.
Hamilton, who trails Rosberg in the championship by 11 points, chose not to do so as he wanted to maximise his title chances after a run of bad luck and poor reliability in qualifying had left him to fight through the field on Sunday.
Over team radio, Rosberg became agitated that Hamilton was not easing off and letting him past but Hamilton added later that Rosberg never got close enough to attempt an overtake.
Speaking to the BBC’s Tom Clarkson, Wolff said Mercedes would “probably do the same in the future” if a situation arose whereby a pass was required so that strategies on both cars could be maximised, however instead of asking one driver to let the other through, they would ask the leading driver not to impede and invite the following driver to try to pass.
“You don’t expect when your team-mate has one more stop to do that you make his life difficult,” he said.
“On the other hand we probably shouldn’t have said to Nico that Lewis was going to let him through, we should have said he won’t make your life difficult.
“And you cannot ruin one’s race by expecting him to lose a couple of hundred metres. It was a matter of the words used not the principle.”
Hamilton said on Thursday that there is “no tension” and “no negativity” and added that there is no reason why the team will not be able to be completely fair to both drivers in future races.
Meanwhile Rosberg said he has “learned” from the incident in Hungary. “Of course we discussed it after the race, because it’s important to review a situation like that and to know how to move forward. I’ve also learned various things which I will try to adapt for the future.”
Wolff said that the drivers needed “a bit of mediating, management, caressing, hard words” and added: “You cannot expect it to run super-smoothly. They are racing drivers, they are intensely competitive, they are fighting for the world championship.”
On track at Spa, Hamilton came out on top in Day 1 of the Mercedes battle, the Briton finishing top of the timesheets in second practice, heading Rosberg by 0.604 seconds.