Ryan Wood  |    9 December 2016

Toto Wolff admits Mercedes should have let its drivers race freely in Abu Dhabi


Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has admitted the team were wrong to get involved in the Abu Dhabi title showdown between its drivers, and that it should have let them race freely.

With Nico Rosberg heading into the final race 12 points ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton, one of Mercedes' drivers were guaranteed the title, whilst the team had already wrapped up the Constructors' championship several races earlier.

That forced Hamilton to drive tactically by backing up Rosberg in second, in the hope rival drivers would get between them, giving Hamilton the points advantage he needed to claim a fourth title.

However on several occasions Hamilton was told by Wolff and Paddy Lowe to "speed up" or risk losing the race win. Hamilton ignored those orders and continued to drive slowly.

Whilst the majority of the grid have agreed Hamilton did nothing wrong and they too would employ similar tactics, Mercedes were less than impressed and were considering disciplinary action against the Briton.

That is now unlikely as Wolff has admitted they should have approached the final race in a different manner and let its drivers battle it out for the title without getting involved.

"In the heat of the moment, sometimes when you make decisions you get them wrong," Wolff admitted to Sky Sports. "In our mind, the way we think, this race is giving us the same number of points as other races and we try to win that one, not considering that there was much more at stake for the drivers.

"How the race panned out, we should have communicated differently and in hindsight let them race in the way they deemed to be appropriate."

With Rosberg immediately announcing his retirement, Wolff is now keen to keep Hamilton happy and says that could play a role in who they pick for their second seat.

"He has been a great pillar in the team's success," added Wolff. "When he came, everything changed, so he has played a role. It's very important to keep him in a good place. The dynamics between the two drivers is one of the factors we will consider."


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