Colliding Mercedes drivers free to race on

Thu Jul 7, 2016 10:32am EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

SILVERSTONE, England (Reuters) - Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will remain free to race each other for the Formula One world championship despite their costly last lap collision in Austria, the team said on Thursday.

So-called 'team orders, with drivers told not to pass after a certain point of the race, could still be imposed as a last resort if they failed to respect strengthened 'Rules of Engagement'.

Rosberg leads Hamilton by 11 points after nine of 21 races.

"Our drivers were informed that they remain free to race for the world championship," Mercedes said in a statement at the British Grand Prix.

"We believe this is the essence of Formula One, including between team mates. As passionate racers, we want to see them racing, and so do the fans of Formula One."

Triple world champion Hamilton won at the Red Bull Ring last weekend, with Rosberg finishing fourth in a damaged car.

The title rivals had been nose-to-tail going into the final lap, colliding when Hamilton went round the outside of the German at turn two.

Mercedes said the continued freedom to race put the onus on drivers "to respect the values of the team" which had lost more than 50 points in the constructors' championship as a result of three such incidents in five races.   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