Mercedes have some tough choices to take

Mon Jul 4, 2016 10:17am EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

SPIELBERG, Austria (Reuters) - Mercedes have a difficult decision to make after colliding team mates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg gave Formula One fans a day of drama in Austria on Sunday.

From an entertainment perspective, the response should be simple -- continue to allow the two to race unfettered from start to finish and bask in the gratitude of a global audience.

Their last lap coming together at the Red Bull Ring put the sport on front and back pages, reviving a narrative of battling team mates going back to the days of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

But Mercedes have sponsors to satisfy and corporate objectives. Collisions between drivers that deny the team a one-two finish are not allowed.

Team boss Toto Wolff's response to what he called a "brainless" accident was to threaten the imposition of team orders -- a practice that was banned for some years and is now legal again.

"We need to discuss internally how we want to manage situations going forward when the two are close to each other. The core race team will sit at a table and discuss," he told reporters.

"We will make decision irrespective of what they 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."

Wolff said one option would be to freeze the order at a certain stage, telling drivers not to try and overtake each other and just bring the car home, even if Mercedes's instincts were to let them race.   Continued...

Formula One - Grand Prix of Austria - Spielberg, Austria - 2/7/16 - Mercedes Formula One drivers Nico Rosberg of Germany and Lewis Hamilton of Britain during a news conference. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler