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Hamilton and Rosberg Free to Race on as Rosberg Strives to Arrest Slump

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Hamilton and Rosberg Free to Race on as Rosberg Strives to Arrest Slump
Oct 17, 2014, 2:16 PM

Nico Rosberg's tyre-smoking, locked-up approach to turn one at Sochi last Sunday has not unduly alarmed his Mercedes boss Toto Wolff who has given...

Nico Rosberg's tyre-smoking, locked-up approach to turn one at Sochi last Sunday has not unduly alarmed his Mercedes boss Toto Wolff who has given his drivers the green light to race flat out to the end of the season.

Rosberg's all-guns-blazing effort to unseat his pole-sitting team mate Lewis Hamilton from the lead in Russia ultimately harmed only his own race and Wolff praised Hamilton's response to the situation while reiterating his team's unwillingness to implement team orders.

“I don’t think we are going to change something in our approach because we want them to race each other respectfully,” Wolff explained, pointing out that the only threat to a Mercedes driver winning the title, Daniel Ricciardo, is now all but mathematically out of the title race.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Singapore Grand Prix - Race Day - Singapore, Singapore

“Of course 92 points means [Ricciardo] would need to win all three remaining races and Lewis [Hamilton] not score eight points. Even though I am a pessimist, that would be a ‘black swan, black swan, black swan’ event.

“We saw in Russia [that] Nico missed the braking [point] on the dirty line and Lewis was very cold blooded, and it was good. So it will not change the approach. We don’t want it to end in some kind of circumstance with events on the track…”

Wolff's comments can be interpreted as shorthand for allowing his drivers to race while counselling them to exercise reasonable caution in their wheel-to-wheel activity.

The narrow avoidance of a collision in Sochi was due in no small part to Hamilton's calm reaction to Rosberg's attack, one he was surely expecting after much pre-race talk about the unusually long run to the first braking point.

What was notable about the weekend was Rosberg's refreshing honesty about his deficit to Hamilton throughout the event, candour that might not normally be expected from a title contender speaking of his rival, especially when the rival is a team-mate.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Russian Grand Prix - Race Day - Sochi, Russia

Rosberg hasn't won since the German Grand Prix before the mid-season break. That's six races without a win in the dominant car of the season. By contrast, Hamilton has won the last four races, the only blemish on his post-break record being the Rosberg induced retirement at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Rosberg still edges the head-to-head qualifying stats over the season but Hamilton has been quicker on three of the last four Saturdays of race weekends.

After Belgium, when Rosberg failed to back out of a challenge at the end of the Kemmel straight which resulted in a collision and ultimately retirement for Hamilton, the Englishman said that he would find it difficult to trust his team-mate from that point on.

However, since the incident, and the dressing down for Rosberg from Mercedes management that followed, it's the German driver whose fortunes have slumped to the point where he trails the 2008 world champion by 17 points with three races remaining.

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