DO WHAT YOU WANT, BUT...: Mercedes team leader Niki Lauda (above) says rivalry between drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton can continue as long as they don't hurt the team or take each other out. Image: AFP / Mathias Kniepeiss
BERLIN, Germany - Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton "can drive as they like" - as long as they don't put the Mercedes Formula 1 team's overall aims at risk, Niki Lauda says.
The former F1 champion, non-executive chairman of Mercedes, told Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper the drivers must subordinate their own interests to those of the team.
He added: "Each i equally important to me because I understand them both, that they want to win races and become champion, but they shouldn't endanger the overall project."
STAY IN THE LEAD
Mercedes team leaders Toto Wolff and Paddy Lowe met with the drivers on Friday (Aug 29) at their HQ in Brackley, England, when Rosberg admitted he was to blame for the collision with Hamilton's car at the previoius weekend's 2014 Belgian GP.
Lauda said Mercedes wanted to win the Constructors' title and the first two places in the Drivers' championship - in which Rosberg currently leads Hamilton by 29 points.
When neither can be beaten in a race by the third-placed driver in the championship (currently Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo) "they can, as far as I am concerned, drive into each other as much as they want".
Mercedes has taken disciplinary action against Rosberg, thought to be a fine.
Rosberg tried to overtake Hamilton for the lead on Lap 2 at Spa-Francorchamps and did not pull back when Hamilton held his line into a right turn.
Rosberg's front wing sliced Hamilton's rear tyre and the Briton later had to retire while Rosberg needed a new nose and finished second behind Ricciardo.
A Mercedes statement said: "Lewis and Nico understand and accept the team's No.1 rule: no contact between the team's cars on track. It has been made clear that another such incident will not be tolerated. But Nico (Rosberg) and Lewis (Hamilton) are our drivers and we believe in them.
"They remain free to race for the 2014 F1 championship."Stay with Wheels24 for the 2014 Italian GP this weekend.