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Merc to keep close eye on drivers' feud

2014-05-26 08:00

MERC’S DUELLING DUO: Despite winning all six races so far in 2014 Mercedes will have to keep a close eye on feuding drivers Lewis Hamilton (left) and Nico Rosberg after the controversial qualifying session. Image: AP/Antonio Calanni

ALAN BALDWIN

MONTE CARLO, Monaco - Dominant Mercedes is ready to read the Riot Act if its fractious drivers overstep the mark in an increasingly intense fight for the 2014 Formula 1 title.

That's despite a perfect 2014 season so far.

After a 2014 Monaco GP  weekend marred by the souring of relations between drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff said the tensions between the two would be kept in check.

'WE'LL HANDLE IT'

He told reporters after Rosberg ended Hamilton's four wins in a row: "I think they are probably exploring how far they can step over the line and what the consequences will be. Isn't that normal?

"You have a chance of winning the championship and as long as it's not detrimental to the team spirit, as long as it's not underhand, we will handle the situation in the way we did before.

"The moment it goes in the direction where we believe it is not the spirit of Mercedes Benz we will act accordingly."

Rosberg's win followed a controversial qualifying session on May 24 with Hamilton suggesting his team mate had literally pulled a fast one him by stopping on the track in the closing seconds of qualifying and denying him pole.

The top slot on the Monaco grid is more important than on any other track because overtaking is exceedingly difficult.

Hamilton overtook Rosberg in the Drivers' championship by winning the 2014 Spanish GP  in May so Rosberg needed to stall the momentum his team mate was building up in a season in which Mercedes is in a class of its own by winning pole positions in each race to date.

QUALIFYING CONTROVERSY

The 2014 Monaco qualifying controversy, with Hamilton suggesting he might emulate the late Ayrton Senna in his late 1988/89 duels with McLaren team mate Alain Prost, had stoked the fires but ultimately the incidents in the 2014 Monaco GP  were caused by others.

If the pair - each a Monaco resident - were not quite about to book a restaurant table for two, Hamilton said they would remain civil. "The weekend's done and dusted. We've got a 1-2 for the team. Let's just focus on moving forward.

"I plan to be stronger in the next race. We've sat down and cleared whatever air needed to be cleared. We've been through the data and seen what needed to be seen. We're good.

"It was a difficult weekend but what doesn't break you will make you stronger. I can only get stronger for this weekend."

Each played down the war of words that had developed  since May 21, with Hamilton and Rosberg saying they had been quoted out of context. Hamilton cited his own less-than-privileged background to show that he was hungrier than Monaco-bred Rosberg, while Rosberg suggested his team mate was easy to unsettle.

Rosberg, who was Hamilton's teenage team mate in karting, said: "I've known Lewis for many, many years and he's always been strong. So I'm definitely not expecting him to crack any time soon.

"It's going to be a tough battle which will be ongoing."

Wolff indicated that, far from Monaco  being a turning-point at which the feud truly ignited, he had been fire-fighting for several races already. Eash driver has tried to gain advantages and in Barcelona Rosberg was the one who had felt aggrieved with Hamilton's tactics. Before that, in Bahrain, they had gone wheel-to-wheel.

Wolff said: "I guess this is really normal. Everybody has his own absolute reality, and absolute belief. I guess it is like arguing with somebody. - you think you are right and the other person thinks he is right.

"It is never black and white. There is sometimes grey."
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