Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff says Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have understood his warning about their seats being under threat if they let tensions between them spiral out of control.
Wolff told Motorsport.com in an exclusive interview after the Formula 1 season finale that, if he were to feel that the pair's relationship is hurting the outfit, he would consider replacing them.
Speaking at the Stars & Cars celebration in Germany with his drivers, Wolff was confident that his message had gotten through – and he was happy matters would never get to the point where action had to be taken.
“Nico and Lewis know very well what was meant,” said Wolff. “The spirit of the team was essential. It was one of the forces which makes us who we are and what we are.
“If the animosity - if there would be animosity within the team – that would be detrimental to the team.
“And I said that, if we were unable to contain the fierce competition and it could spill over to the team, then we would be needing to look at how we would set up the driver line-up for the future.”
Mercedes duo Rosberg and Hamilton are in agreement that, as things stand right now, there is no need for Wolff to be too concerned.
Rosberg, sitting alongside Wolff, said: “I hope that Toto always comes back to the conclusion that it's actually good the way it is. That's all I can say.
“And thank you very much for having done such a great job in managing the situation - and I can see a couple of extra grey hairs that have arrived, so maybe those are courtesy of us...”
Hamilton added: “I pretty much agree with Nico. I don't believe anything negative has come from the competition, it's natural.
“In any environment, you want to make sure the atmosphere remains strong and we are a winning team, so we want Mercedes to be at the front the whole time.
“And there's nothing we can't do together. We'll always communicate and we always have and we'll always rectify if we had any issues - and we don't now. There are no issues.”
Wolff said one thing he was adamant about was never interfering in the competition on-track – and he said he was proud the team had contained matters so far.
“We love the competition on track, we think that controversy and the racing needs to be hard and was great,” he said.
“It's good for the team because it pushes us forward. It gets us out of our comfort zone and it's nothing else that you would expect from Nico and Lewis.
“There's nothing we want to do in limiting that racing - and it was actually our philosophy from the very first moment on that we opted for two drivers who could win the world championship.
“There was no team in the past which actually survived more than one year with such a set-up. Because it's very competitive and very fierce, it's important to contain that on-track and make sure that it doesn't spill into the team and cause controversy within the garage.
“This is one team and we are moving forward together.”