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Wolff: This is Mercedes drivers’ final warning

07 Jul 2016

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have both been issued ‘yellow cards’ and further transgressions could ‘have a negative effect’ on their title hopes, according to Mercedes-Benz head of motorsport Toto Wolff.

While both drivers remain free to race each other following their controversial last-lap collision in Austria last weekend, Wolff says a stricter set of ‘deterrents’ had been agreed upon in order to prevent repeat scenarios.

“We've had a warning, and this is the final warning," Wolff told the media on Thursday ahead of this weekend’s Grand Prix at Silverstone.

“It is a scenario none of us want to be in. They are wired in a certain way, and that’s exactly why they drive for Mercedes. But there have been three accidents in five races, and that situation somehow needs containment.

“It's clear for both drivers that we go through a tough time when we lose points when the cars collide. And that was acknowledged. If you have a yellow card, will it change your way of tackling it or not? Because you know what happens with a second yellow…”

Wolff stressed that it was the increasing frequency of incidents that has Mercedes most worried, particularly as he is adamant it should be possible for drivers of Hamilton and Rosberg’s calibre to race cleanly.

“In a couple of years we might look back and say Rosberg-Hamilton was one of the best battles. I am aware of that, and I don’t want to over-manage it,” he said.

“We want them to be race drivers, they are the stars of the show. We don’t want to belittle them in public - which is why I am reluctant to share in public the possible sanctions for them. We don’t want to have them go around like puppies.

“But equally let us not have three shunts in five races. Let’s get that ratio in a place that is acceptable for the team; three in five is not a good one.

“If it was mission impossible, that would mean we didn’t see any clean racing out there. But there is clean racing out there.

“The great racing is hard racing, trying to pass and outsmart the competitor without contact. I believe, especially considering the skill set of those two, that clean racing is possible and achievable.”

For his part, Hamilton said the important thing was that Mercedes’ new guidelines will still allow him and Rosberg to race - and that as a result he doesn’t anticipate any change in his approach.

"In all honesty, I think our destiny has always been in our hands," commented the world champion. "So it doesn’t really change anything. We are still able to race, no team rules or team orders or whatever it’s called, which I think is great for the fans. So I think everyone should be excited."