F1: Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have freedom to fight, but at a cost
Silverstone: Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton will be free to fight wheel-to-wheel with teammate Nico Rosberg in his pursuit of a hat-trick of victories on home soil in Sunday's British Grand Prix.
Mercedes Nico Rosberg (left) leads teammate Lewis Hamilton by 11 points in the Drivers' World Championship. Pic/Getty Images
Mercedes had threatened to impose team-orders forbidding Hamilton and Rosberg racing each other, after the former friends turned title rivals collided on the final lap of last weekend's Austrian Grand Prix.
The collision, their third in five races, proved expensive as, while Hamilton hung on to win, Mercedes lost an assured one-two finish with Rosberg crawling home fourth in a mangled car.
"Our drivers were informed that they remain free to race for the World Championship," Mercedes said in a statement issued after a crunch meeting between the team's management and drivers yesterday at their headquarters in Brackley. "However, this freedom comes with a duty for our drivers to respect the values of the team."
The three collisions had cost Mercedes 50 points and stricter deterrents were now in place to discourage Hamilton and Rosberg crashing into each other, the statement said. Team orders remained an option as a last resort.
Closing the gap
Hamilton's win in Austria, combined with Rosberg's fourth-placed finish, allowed the Briton to close the gap to the German to 11 points in the standings. Having won the British Grand Prix three times, including successive wins in 2014 and 2015, he heads into Sunday's race as favourite to make it three in a row in front of an expected 135,000 of his home fans.
A total of 12 British drivers have won their home race since it made its debut on the calendar for Formula One's inaugural season in 1950. But only Jim Clark has scored three or more successive victories, taking five wins in a row from 1962 to 1967.
Should Hamilton win on Sunday, he will be second only to the Scotsman in terms of consecutive wins scored and tied in second for overall victories on four with Nigel Mansell. Rosberg will be keen to deny him, however. The 31-year-old has never won the British race and, having lost out on a hat-trick of wins in Austria last Sunday, will be determined to spoil Hamilton's party.