Mercedes to decide team orders race by race

Mercedes will take a race-by-race approach to the issue of team orders for the remaining nine grands prix of 2017.

In Hungary, Lewis Hamilton lost precious points to Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel as the Briton honoured an agreement to return a place to his teammate Valtteri Bottas.

"Some people said we are naive in Budapest," team boss Toto Wolff told Kronen Zeitung newspaper at Spa.

"But our rule is that both drivers have the same chance for the title -- and both drivers know what we keep our word. That is important for our team spirit."

However, that policy was devised over the last few years -- when the only drivers challenging for the title were wearing silver.

"Of course we don't want to lose the world championship by being too sporting," Wolff admitted. "The fact is that there is no fairness trophy.

"Formula one is harder than that so we will have to adapt our principles," he said.

What that could mean in practice is that, on a race by race basis, Mercedes will make decisions from the pitwall based on maximising the team's title chances.

"We have been thinking about this a lot lately," said Wolff, "and I can say that we want to keep full freedom for our drivers.

"It is impossible to fully anticipate what will happen and plan every scenario, but Ferrari has a real advantage in Sebastian being the clear leader, with Kimi covering him.

"In recent years we have not taken this approach, and so as each situation arises in the race, we will make decisions depending on how they may affect the outcome of the championship," added Wolff.

(GMM)

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