MUNICH, Germany - Daimler-Mercedes chairman Dieter Zetsche has become involved in resolving the spat between warring Mercedes team mates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.
BIG SHOT STEPS IN: Mercedes' CEO Dieter Zetsche has stepped in to try to resolve the animosity between Lewis Hamilton (left) and team mate Nico Rosberg. Image: AP / Luca Bruno
As team chiefs Toto Wolff, Paddy Lowe and Niki Lauda work to safeguard Mercedes' overwhelming title prospects amid an intensifying driver feud Lauda revealed that Zetsche had been moved to intervene.
F1 legend and team chairman Lauda told the German weekly Bunte: "Naturally we have to report to him. We've a need for clarification. It (the F1 project) is all about building credibility for the brand."
Until now, although there have been efforts to cool the heat in the wake of last Sunday's (Aug 24 2014) incident, the clear finger of blame has been pointed at Rosberg for causing the Lap 2 collision at Spa that left Hamilton almost 30 points behind in their title fight.
Lauda, for instance, admitted to Bunte that even the German driver's post-race explanation of what happened was "not understandable to me".
A key meeting to plot a way forward will take place at the team's UK base on Friday (August 29), Germany's Sport Bild reported. "I will not be there," Lauda confirmed, "but Toto, Paddy and the two drivers will."
It's possible that Zetsche, who has always argued against team orders, will ask for any solution to the problem to not involve ending Mercedes' policy of 'free racing'. Indeed, on Twitter on Thursday, Mercedes asked its half-million followers to vote for either "team orders or free racing".
"This is a chance to have your say," the team tweeted.
The predictable and overwhelming response saw 92% support for free racing, with Mercedes going on to ask for suggestions for potential penalties for breaching the "no contact rule".
The team's Twitter asked: "Would you suspend a driver for a race and not maximise Constructors' points? Perhaps you'd set the order at qualifying slots?"
Lauda tipped Mercedes to ultimately keep the faith and refrain from playing safe and introducing team orders for the rest of the 2014 battle. "Nothing changes," he said, "although it is important to avoid unnecessary risk... but I don't want to prejudge the (Friday) meeting.Stay with Wheels24 for the 2014 F1 season – fresh reports every day.
"Let's see what the decisions look like."