Tuesday 20 February 2018

Hamilton and Rosberg face censure

Lewis Hamilton celebrates after winning the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday Photo: AP Photo/Ronald Zak
Lewis Hamilton celebrates after winning the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday Photo: AP Photo/Ronald Zak

Daniel Johnson

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg could be fined or even suspended by Mercedes if they crash again under drastic deterrents being considered by the world champions in a bid to avoid imposing team orders.

Hamilton will plead with Mercedes not to "rob" fans by forcing them to obey team orders in next Sunday's British Grand Prix, with executives fearing they may have to unleash the nightmare scenario on Formula One to control their feuding drivers.

However the alternative punishment, understood to be one of the options under consideration, could be even worse news for Hamilton. It is understood that increasingly exasperated team bosses feel they have been left with no choice but to act firmly and decisively after Hamilton and Rosberg collided for the third time in five races in Austria on Sunday.

This could include either a sporting penalty - the ultimate sanction being to take one or both drivers out of the car - or a financial one, a fine worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. How exactly the system would work when there is no clear culprit for a collision, which was not the case on Sunday with Rosberg penalised by the stewards, remains unclear.

Toto Wolff, the head of Mercedes motorsport, was absolutely livid on Sunday night, and seemed at the end of his tether with his "brainless" drivers.

Team orders would be a PR disaster in front 140,000 British fans, reminiscent of the worst days of Ferrari in the early 2000s, which is likely to be why other more extreme alternatives are being considered.

The decision will be taken in the coming days, principally by Wolff along with Niki Lauda, the three-time champion and Mercedes chairman, and Paddy Lowe, the technical boss. Dieter Zetsche, the chairman of Mercedes, will be kept in the loop but is expected to leave the decision itself to Wolff.

Irish Independent

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