KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is still pondering how to deal with Lewis Hamilton’s driving tactics in the season-ending Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but has accepted it was something the three-times world champion needed to do.
Wolff had warned after the race on Sunday of potential “anarchy” and possible disciplinary action after Hamilton ignored clear instructions as he battled with team mate Nico Rosberg for the title.
“I have not made up my mind. I can understand why he drove the way he drove, it was his instinct,” Wolff told a news conference on Tuesday.
“He needed to do it. Our system has made them win many races, but has also created that air of dominance… but again, let’s discuss at a later stage.”
Hamilton, who won the race in Abu Dhabi but lost his title to Rosberg, slowed the pace deliberately in a bid to back his team mate into a position where rivals could overtake the German, who only needed to finish on the podium.
Wolff said the move openly undermined the structure of the team for whom Hamilton secured 10 race victories and 12 pole positions this season.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel described Hamilton’s tactics as “dirty tricks” while Rosberg said his team mate’s driving made for a difficult race, but felt the situation was too hypothetical to merit further discussion.
“It’s about the world championship so he decided to try everything out there. So in a way it is understandable even though it was very very tough as a result,” the German said.
Rosberg was asked about Malaysia’s decision to quit hosting Formula One after 2018 due to declining interest and rising costs.
“I’m sure it’s done a lot for Malaysia, to create a lot of attention for the country and businesses. I wish that F1 is able to stay for many more years,” Rosberg said.
Malaysia had been considering cancelling the race due to declining ticket sales and TV viewing figures.
State oil and gas firm Petronas is the title sponsor for the Formula One race in Kuala Lumpur and is also a key sponsor for Mercedes. The company has been hit hard in recent times by the tumble in oil prices.
(Reporting by Liz Lee, Writing by Joseph Sipalan, Editing by Ed Osmond)