NOVEMBER 12, 2016
Lauda, Wolff ensuring free fight for title
Niki Lauda says Mercedes is giving Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton a free fight for the 2016 title.
The German marque has struggled to control the pair at times over the past few seasons, but as they battle for this year's crown in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, team chairman Lauda said Mercedes will not interfere at all.
"I don't talk to them. They are free to race," he told the Brazilian broadcaster Sportv.
"They can do whatever they want," Lauda reiterated. "Leave them alone and just watch. And it's interesting to watch.
"Nico has a comfortable lead, but there should be rain on Sunday and problems can happen," he said at Interlagos. "In formula one you can only be sure of a title after you've won it."
For his part, Rosberg insists he is not massaging his big points lead to the Abu Dhabi chequer, but team boss Toto Wolff admits the German may be driving conservatively.
"After Lewis retired in Malaysia, Nico knew he could finish second at every grand prix - and even a third - and still win the title in the end," Wolff told France's Le Figaro.
"It was therefore logical that - although he always wants to win - Nico takes a little less risk and manages this favourable situation.
"So it seems to be the most likely scenario that it will be decided in the last race, which I think will make Bernie very happy," he added.
And like Lauda, Wolff said Mercedes will get out of the way to ensure that the title is solely decided as the result of a clean fight between Rosberg and Hamilton.
"We are in the comfortable position of already winning the constructors' championship and we cannot lose the drivers' either," he said.
"Now, in this situation myself and the team need to be as neutral as possible not to favour one driver over the other. In Mexico, we even made sure both drivers had the same marketing and press times, so that one could not even complain that he is doing more," Wolff added.