Toto Wolff says he trusts his drivers to race in a sportsmanlike way as they battle for the world championship tomorrow – and insists that the Mercedes team won’t interfere in the fight.
Asked if Lewis Hamilton might back up Nico Rosberg and make him vulnerable to being jumped in the pits, Wolff stopped short of saying that wouldn’t happen, but stressed that the drivers knew how to behave.
“We can’t really interfere in that last final race,” he said. “We’ve let them race until now, they both know what we deem as being sportsmanlike.
"But then there is a lot at stake tomorrow, there’s a world championship to be won or lost. I think both of them will have thought about all possibilities. For us, as long as we are not overstepping the mark in what as we see as being sportsmanlike driving, we are fine, I think we need to let them go.
“We don’t want to change the rules for tomorrow, because it would be wrong that for the one title decider we would turn everything upside down that we have developed in the last couple of years.
"The drivers are great sportsmen, and they know what it would mean, overstepping the line, it would cause a lot of controversy. Therefore I trust that this is going to go well tomorrow, for the benefit of the team, and the team spirit, and the effort that has been given, and the fans.”
Main objective is not interfering
Wolff acknowledged that it hasn’t been easy for the team to ensure it remained fair to both its drivers.
“It’s a difficult situation for all of us in the team. You might say that we are in a very privileged position in that, whoever wins, it’s going to be a Mercedes driver. The truth is we have kept neutral all over these last three years.
“Tomorrow is going to be particularly difficult, and has been already the weekend, to give them support when they need it, not interfere too much, not over-manage, but just let them fight it out on track.
"Give them a car which has the pace, which we’ve seen today we were able to achieve, a reliable car for tomorrow, and a strategy that works for both. That’s another tricky area, with the Red Bulls clearly on an offset strategy, and Ferrari having pace.
"The main objective is to interfere the least in the world championship, and let the drivers fight it out on track.”
Red Bull strategy "a bit of a headache"
Wolff admitted that Red Bull’s strategy of starting both cars on supersofts rather than ultrasofts had given the team food for thought.
“We were expecting them to have one car on the supersoft, but not both. Interesting. It is an offset strategy, it’s not the fastest strategy, and in out algorithms starting with the ultrasoft is the better tyre, because you can’t take the supersoft much further – we’re speaking of a couple of laps.
"But I guess Red Bull hasn’t got the pace here to win it on the same strategy, I guess that was the thinking, and an offset strategy gives additional potential.
“That’s why it’s a bit of a headache, in the same way that Ferrari’s pace is a bit of a headache. But again our main objective is that it’s being fought out on track, when the lights go green it’s on the drivers.”