Mercedes gives Hamilton/Rosberg new freedom to race in 2016

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Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have been given more freedom to race each other this year, with Mercedes deciding to step back from getting too involved in their battle.

Ahead of what looks set to be another world championship battle between the pair, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff revealed on Friday that the team was relaxing a code of conduct that had been in place in recent years.

However, this will not extend as far as giving both drivers complete freedom, or doing anything that risked the team's overall chances of success.

When asked at a media event in Stuttgart on Friday about the rules of conduct for 2016, Wolff said: "We have actually reduced that from last year to this year.

"When we started the project in 2013, there was a lot of pressure on the team in order to achieve the results and win races, and we have done okay.

"In 2014, we won the championship and we confirmed that it wasn't a one-off in 2015. But in order to contain that, we tried to put a framework around it. Sometimes it functions, sometimes it doesn't.

"We learned some interesting lessons and we improved as an organisation. With Nico and Lewis, we have been together for a couple of years and it functions pretty well.

"So we owe it to them and we owe it to F1 to just let them race. The ride is going to be a bit more difficult for the team sometimes, but that is absolutely necessary."

No risk

Although accepting that the decision to let Hamilton and Rosberg choose their own approaches more could open to the door to tension, Wolff is confident it will not benefit main rival Ferrari.

"No. I don't think so," he said. "We are reducing the rules, or framework, because we are more comfortable in working with each other.

"There is great respect among the individuals. I don't fear it is going to be different than it has been in the last year.

"The regulations help us because there is much less engineering input into the car and into the driver. There is much less guidance in terms of strategy and tyre optimisation, or how to drive the cars. So it is much more down to them how to drive the car anyway.

"That is very good for the sport. It puts more pressure and brings new effort for the drivers. Our role, by bringing these regulations forward, has been to step back a little bit.

"So it pretty much fits our strategy in leaving it up to these two to really fight it out on the track."

Additional reporting by Stefan Ziegler

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Lewis Hamilton , Nico Rosberg
Teams Mercedes
Article type Breaking news