World champion Lewis Hamilton has welcomed Mercedes’ decision not to impose team orders preventing him from racing freely against team-mate Nico Rosberg at this weekend’s British Grand Prix.
The fierce title rivals clashed for a third time in five races in Austria on Sunday when Rosberg was penalised for forcing Hamilton off the track – a move that backfired as the Englishman took the win.
“We’re still able to race, which is a positive – no team orders – which I think is great for the fans, so I think everyone should be excited,” said Hamilton.
Mercedes warned that while there was no restriction on their drivers they were now subject to “greater deterrents to contact” – although Hamilton seemed unmoved by the warning.
Asked if he was clear on the deterrents, he said “yeah”, and when pushed on whether they scared him, he smiled and shook his head, before quipping: “I should say yes.”
Hamilton’s win last week came after a dramatic last lap in which he overtook Rosberg despite a collision between the cars. That crash damaged the German’s car to the extent that he trailed home fourth and saw his title lead trimmed to 11 points.
Mercedes said team chiefs Toto Wolff and Paddy Lowe had addressed the drivers at the team’s Brackley headquarters on Thursday.
“Our drivers were informed that they remain free to race for the world championship,” the team said.
“We believe this is the essence of Formula One, including between team-mates. However this freedom comes with a duty to respect the values of the team.
"We have therefore strengthened our rules of engagement to include much greater deterrents to contact between our cars.”