MERCEDES team boss Toto Wolff expects the relationship between warring team-mates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to become even more fractious as the Formula One season nears its finale.
The top two in the World Championship standings renew hostilities in this week’s Singapore Grand Prix with Rosberg leading Hamilton by 22 points with six races remaining.
The pair have been at loggerheads throughout the season, but their internal strife became very public after last month’s Belgian Grand Prix when Rosberg admitted to deliberately causing a second-lap crash between the pair which ended the British driver’s race.
Mercedes had aimed to avoid such a scenario at the very beginning of the season when they presented their drivers with a “rules of engagement” document.
And, as the title race draws to its conclusion, Wolff expects no let up in hostilities.
“It has changed from an almost amicable relationship at the beginning of the season to a very intense moment, where it was almost like realising these two are enemies competing for the world title,” he said.
“These boys have been calibrated their whole life that their main priority is to win the drivers’ championship in F1. And here they go, they are in the same car, competing against each other for that trophy and one is going to win and one is going to fail.
“This is a new experience for them, a difficult experience maybe.
“It is so intense and we are breaking new ground in letting the boys race in the way we do.”
Following this weekend’s race in Singapore, the season continues in Japan, Russia, United States and Brazil, before culminating in Abu Dhabi on 23 November where double points are available.