Mercedes boss Toto Wolff threatened to impose ‘team orders’ on Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, however unpopular the move, after yet another collision between the battling Formula One title rivals in Austria on Sunday.
The team mates have clashed three times in the last five races – in Spain, Canada and the Red Bull Ring – as their championship duel heats up. Wolff said something had to change.
“It’s unpopular, it makes me puke, because I like to see them race, but if the racing is not possible without contact that’s the consequence,” he said of a move that would force the drivers to hold position after a given point of the race.
On Sunday, the pair collided on the last lap as triple world champion Hamilton tried to seize the lead by going around the outside of the German.
The Briton ended up the winner while Rosberg dropped to fourth and saw his lead slashed to 11 points with 12 rounds remaining.
In Spain in May their collision came on the opening lap and led to both retiring.
“In Barcelona I was much more at ease with it,” said Wolff.
“We had (gone) 30 races without collision, it was clear it was eventually going to happen, it wiped out both cars and from my naive thinking I thought to myself: ‘Okay they’ve learnt the lesson, seen what the consequences are and it’s not going to happen any more’.
“But here we go, it happens again. So the only consequence is to look at all the options and one option is to freeze the order at a certain stage of the race.”
Such a move would be deeply unpopular with fans, who yearn for more of the drama seen over the closing laps in Austria as Hamilton reeled in Rosberg before making the fateful move.
Mercedes have taken pride in letting their drivers race, telling them only to keep it clean and avoid contact, and Wolff said any decision would not be taken lightly.
“I have to cool down and in the next couple of days figure it out. Next thing I’m going to do is put my head in a bucket of ice,” said the Austrian.
“We will make the decision irrespective of what they (the drivers) say. It could go in either direction. We need to avoid contact between the two cars whatever the decision is. Everything’s on the table.”