The Formula One World Championship battle between Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg is reaching fever pitch once again after Sunday's team orders incident during the Hungarian Grand Prix, that appeared to show favouritism by the German team, towards their German driver.
The last race before the summer break at the Hungaroring in Budapest, proved to be the most exciting of the season thus far, after a first half of almost complete domination by Mercedes.
Ricciardo win overshadowed
Red Bull superstar Daniel Ricciardo, thoroughly deserved his second Formula One victory when the Australian came home ahead of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton in an unexpected podium finish, however in the aftermath of a thrilling race, Formula One fans will soon be made to forget about the brilliant drive by the smiling Ricciardo, as the attention turns to the feuding Mercedes duo of Rosberg and Hamilton.
Mercedes have already doused the flames between the pair this season as the race for the Championship hots up, however after the weekend it appears the relationship between the drivers, and between Hamilton and his team could be at breaking point or even beyond, after the Silver Arrows clearly showcased favouritism towards the German championship leader Rosberg.
With a third of the race to go and the pair on different strategies, Hamilton was asked to make way for Rosberg who was lapping slightly quicker on the soft compound tyres than Hamilton, who was on the medium compound.
Hamilton was chasing down Fernando Alonso for second place with Rosberg in fourth, when team orders came in from Mercedes telling the Brit to move over and let the German through in a bizarre request, considering his German team-mate was not even in the DRS zone, or even close enough to challenge a pass on his team-mate.
Hamilton made it clear he wasn't prepared to slow down and that Rosberg needs to get closer before he lets him pass, a more than fair decision by the Brit, considering the racing circumstances at the time.
Hamilton has endured two weeks of exceptionally bad luck, first with brake problems at the German Grand Prix, and then an engine fire during qualifying in Hungary, technical failures that forced him to start from the pit lane in both races.
The fact that he managed to secure two consecutive podium's after starting from the pit lane is a remarkable achievement, and one that was very much about damage limitation in the title race for Hamilton.
Mercedes team orders at the time were simply unacceptable and clearly showed that Hamilton appears to be challenging more than just Nico Rosberg for the title this season.
Mixed signals have been filtering out of Mercedes in the aftermath of the embarrassing incident, most notably from Toto Wolff who appears to be throwing his weight behind Rosberg and Lauda who is partially supporting Hamilton.
Lauda claimed the team's behaviour was provoked by panic brought about by the stress the team was under.
"The team was under enormous stress," Lauda said of an incident.
"Mercedes was used to being in the lead and racing against each other. This race, with the safety car at the beginning and wet conditions, was a completely different race so every minute you had to decide something different.
"Why the call came was out of the panic and we have to make up for what we are losing," he added.
Lauda went on to say he thought Hamilton's drive was the best of the day considering the circumstances that he was faced with on Sunday.
"This was for me the outstanding drive. Not only starting from the pitlane but he had a brand new car which had to be put together. He never drove this car which is a handicap. And then he had to start in the wet.
"So what Lewis did with this unknown car, not absolutely balanced, to go all the way through and finish third was incredible. Lewis did an outstanding job," he said.
Lewis Hamilton post Hungarian Grand Prix interview
Mercedes team boss, Toto Wolff, however appears to be backing the blue eyed boy, Rosberg, when he suggested after the race that Hamilton not moving over cost Rosberg a race win.
He claims the reason why the German couldn't get close enough was because of the dirty air coming off the back of Hamilton's Mercedes and that he should have let him pass.
“It is a difficult situation now and as a team we have to learn how the season pans out now, because if Lewis had let Nico go then Nico could have won the race with a different strategy,” Wolff told reporters.
With Mercedes dominating the constructors title by over 170 points, surely during the second half of the season the team should allow the drivers to get on with what they do best, and that is race,
If not, it is becoming plainly obvious that the German money men behind the team are only interested in one result come the end of the season, and that is a German World Champion.