World champion Lewis Hamilton will not change his racing approach despite Mercedes issuing him and team-mate Nico Rosberg with their final warning ahead of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone this weekend.
After a crisis meeting, chaired by Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and technical director Paddy Low, at the team’s headquarters in Brackley, Hamilton and Rosberg were told they could race each other for the remainder of the season despite their last-lap crash in Austria.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Mercedes, who were considering team orders, said that their so-called ‘Rules of Engagement’ - a code of racing conduct which both drivers must adhere to - had been revised and strengthened to act as a deterrent to both Rosberg and Hamilton.
The drivers could be fined - or worse - suspended for another collision. Indeed Wolff hinted that he was prepared to drop either of the championship rivals if they clashed again.
But a defiant Hamilton, a winner in Northamptonshire for the past two seasons, said: “We’re still able to race.”
Hamilton has clashed with Rosberg on five occasions in their career together at Mercedes, but only one of them - the last race in Austria - has courted a penalty from the stewards.
“In all those races the stewards deemed me racing so I will still race like that,” Hamilton added.
“I think our destiny has always been in our hands, so it doesn’t really change anything. We’re still able to race which is a positive, no team orders, which is great for the fans, so everybody should be excited.”
Asked if the new deterrents are “scary’’, a smiling Hamilton replied: “I guess I should say yes.’’
Rosberg, who leads Hamilton by only 11 points, was blamed by the stewards for causing the crash in Austria. He was hit with a 10-second timed penalty and slapped with two penalty points on his licence, but the German was not in an apologetic mood on Thursday.
‘’It is not a question of apologising,’’ he said. ‘’We have had our discussions, been through it, and together we have come to a conclusion as how best to move forward.
‘’We are going racing again and the good thing is that we are free to race which we all want. I want to battle Lewis out there and that still remains nearly unchanged.’’