Mercedes to revise tactics after driver duel in Hungary Grand Prix

Team boss Christian 'Toto' Wolff believes the strategy they agreed at the start of the season does not apply now as the situation has changed, so they will sit down for a discussion

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 July, 2014, 10:38pm
UPDATED : Monday, 28 July, 2014, 10:38pm

Formula One leaders Mercedes have acknowledged that the title battle between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg has reached a point where the drivers will put their own interests first.

"Maybe what we decided at the beginning of the season doesn't function any more," team boss Christian "Toto" Wolff said at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

"We cannot really ask either driver to give up their position or jeopardise their own championship chances for the benefit of the team."

It's clear these two are fighting for the world championship and it's more intense
Christian Wolff 

Hamilton refused a request to allow championship-leading teammate Rosberg to pass. Rosberg had started on pole, but was behind Hamilton on a different strategy and still had a pit stop.

The message "don't hold him up" was made twice to Hamilton, who eventually finished third with Rosberg fourth, over the radio with a third of the race left.

"I'm not letting him past me; if he gets close enough to overtake he can overtake," replied the 2008 champion, who stayed ahead for eight more laps until Rosberg pitted.

Had the Briton made way, Rosberg - who denied making any request to be let through - might have been able to win for Mercedes instead of both being beaten by Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo.

But Hamilton, who had started from the pit lane, would have fallen further behind in the championship instead of cutting the gap to 11 points with eight races remaining.

Hamilton said he was "very, very shocked" by the request. "I was in the same race as him. Just because he had one more stop than me doesn't mean I wasn't in the same race as him," he explained.

"And naturally if I'd have let him past, he would have had the opportunity to pull away and when he does pit, he's going to come back and overtake me.

"To be honest, he didn't get close enough to overtake, but I was never going to lift off and lose ground to Fernando [Alonso] or Daniel to enable him to have a better race. So that was a bit strange."

Mercedes, dominant this season, have made a point of not imposing "team orders" in an effort to keep the fans entertained, but that has brought friction between their drivers as well as some thrilling wheel-to-wheel battles.

Wolff said in March that the pair were free to race, within defined limits and as long as the team did not lose out.

He said on Sunday that with Mercedes now 174 points clear of Red Bull in the constructors' championship, and the drivers in a duel of their own for that title, there needed to be a fresh discussion of how to proceed.

"It's difficult now," he said. "The longer the season goes, the more intense it gets. At the beginning of the season, it was easy to say these are the rules and this is how we are going to do it.

"Now it's clear these two are fighting for the world championship and it's more intense. We need to sit down and discuss it."

Mercedes have won nine of the 11 races to date - five for Hamilton - and Rosberg had been expected to celebrate his fifth.