'BEST BEHAVIOUR, PLEASE': Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg (R) and Lewis Hamilton have to work hard and out their issues aside to put the team first this weekend during the 2014 Italian GP.Image: AFP/Mark Thompson.
MONZA, Italy - Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton must behave themselves at Sunday's Italian GP in order to calm down their angry Mercedes team leaders and keep Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo at bay.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has made it clear that they will not tolerate another round of egotism from either driver after the rivalry culminated in Rosberg's failed overtaking move against Hamilton in Belgium, ruining Hamilton's race and making Rosberg settle for second.
Hamilton was also enraged as the incident dampened his title hopes, and Rosberg eventually apologised at a team meeting Friday (August 29), admitting to "an error of judgement."
What should have been another Mercedes 1-2 saw Ricciardo post his second win in a row instead, as he drew within 35 points of Hamilton (191) and 64 of the leading Rosberg (220) with seven races left.
Wolff has threatened sanctions - after undisclosed disciplinary action taken against Rosberg - in case of a repeat of the Belgian incident, and insisted the driver has an obligation to the whole team.
Wolff said: "We have a quick car but we have not delivered our full potential in recent races and that must be our target this weekend. It's no less than the people at Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart deserve, with everyone working flat out to ensure we finish the job this season."
Hamilton recalled that he first met Rosberg in Italy during their kart racing days, saying "that's where our rivalry really began," and has not given up hope of recovering the deficit on his team mate.
'ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN'
Hamilton said: "My aim for the weekend, of course, is to claw back the gap in the Drivers' Championship. It's as big as it's been all season so I've got a lot of work ahead of me - but anything can happen in this sport.
"I won't give up until the flag drops in Abu Dhabi and there's still plenty of points to be won before then, so it's far from over yet."
Hamilton won on the superfast 5.8km course in 2012 while at McLaren-Mercedes. Rosberg has never made the podium there and in 2013 saw him finish sixth and Hamilton ninth.
But Rosberg vowed that "this year things are different. We have a great car and ... I feel confident we can get a really great result.
"It's still all to play for in the Championship and with the double points race in Abu Dhabi anything can still happen. I'm focused on taking the maximum points possible in the remaining seven races and I know the team is too - starting with a top result this weekend."
2013's winner, World champion Sebastian Vettel, may well find himself behind his impressive team mate Ricciardo again on the course where he won his first career race back in 2008, then for Toro Rosso.
Ricciardo has been ahead of Vettel almost all season, first won in Canada, and then the last two races in Hungary and Belgium. Now he is hoping to get the better of him, and the Mercedes rivals, again for victory of the mythical course in Ferrari-land.
Ricciardo said: "Obviously it's full-on Ferrari but in the past they (the fans) have always been very generous to me. I'd love to get the opportunity to stand on that brilliant podium and find out!"
The passionate tifosi are unlikely to be treated with the first Ferrari win in Monza since Fernando in 2010, as the team is too far behind in terms of performance.
Alonso told the Ferrari website: "It's not easy. Something unusual would have to happen, maybe with a bit of help from drivers in the top teams, while we need to concentrate on ourselves and give our utmost over the weekend. We must try and have our best race of the year in front of the home crowd.Stay with Wheels24 for the 2014 Italian GP this weekend.
"We must be realistic, as this will be another defensive and uphill race for us, but anything can happen."