Lewis Hamilton escapes punishment by Mercedes after Abu Dhabi row

• Team chief Toto Wolff admits Mercedes got things wrong
• Fernando Alonso will not be replacing Nico Rosberg

Mercedes have decided not to take action against Lewis Hamilton after the controversial end to the Formula One season.

Hamilton ignored team orders during the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as he looked to snatch the title from his team-mate Nico Rosberg.

However, Mercedes’ head of motorsport Toto Wolff has confirmed there will be no punishment for Hamilton as he focuses his attention on replacing the now-retired Rosberg.

“In the heat of the moment, sometimes when you make decisions, you get them wrong,” Wolff told Sky Sports.

“In our mind, the way we think, this race was giving us the same number of points as other races and we try to win that one – not considering that there was much more at stake for the drivers.

“How the race panned out, we should have communicated differently and in hindsight let them race in the way they deemed to be appropriate.”

Immediately after the race at the Yas Marina Circuit, Wolff said: “Undermining a structure in public means you are putting yourself before the team. It is very simple. Anarchy does not work in any team and in any company.”

Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso will not be replacing Rosberg at Mercedes, the Spaniard’s manager Flavio Briatore has confirmed.

Wolff said this week Mercedes “had to consider” Alonso as a replacement for the German but the two-times world champion is contracted to McLaren until the end of 2017. Briatore told Gazetta dello Sport: “We have an agreement with McLaren and we are going to respect that.”

With all the established F1 drivers safely under contract, Mercedes may well have to take a calculated gamble after Rosberg’s shock retirement.

Williams’ Valtteri Bottas is a reported contender for Rosberg’s seat, but Wolff may decide to take a punt on the former Mercedes test driver Pascal Wehrlein. Though he spent 2016 racing for Manor, the 22-year-old has filled in for Rosberg and Hamilton in testing and has been identified by Mercedes as a driver with vast potential.

“Clearly, with Nico taking the decision quite late we are in a bit of a compromised situation because if we had known three months ago there were more options available,” Wolff added. “Maybe we need to make a brave decision in the same way Nico has made a brave decision.”


Mark Dobson

The GuardianTramp

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