Formula 1

Mercedes tensions rise after Hungary team order controversy

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As Daniel Ricciardo claimed a second win of the 2014 season at the Hungarian Grand Prix, new tensions emerged at Mercedes.

With Lewis Hamilton starting from the pit lane while team-mate and championship rival Nico Rosberg led from pole, events at the Hungaroring on Sunday meant it was in fact Hamilton who was the lead Silver Arrow by the chequered flag less than a second ahead of Rosberg.

Team orders controversy

However, during the race, the two drivers became embroiled in a radio feud as, with Rosberg running in close proximity to Hamilton on a different strategy, the pitwall asked Hamilton to allow his team-mate through.

Hamilton, racing with Fernando Alonso, refused on the basis that Rosberg was not close enough to make the switch and not risk ruining his own race.

As a result of this Rosberg lost time and was forced to pit losing almost 20 seconds to his team-mate and the other leaders.

This meant that the German went from being in a position to fight for the win to eventually finishing fourth albeit right on the tail of Hamilton after closing the large gap down in just a handful of laps.

Team at loggerheads

The incident has resulted in another round of talks being organised to clear the air between the drivers as the championship heads into the summer break with the two drivers separated by just 11 points.

However, the reactions from non-executive chairman Niki Lauda and commercial director Toto Wolff suggests even the team bosses can't agree on who was in the right.

The racing instincts of triple world champion Lauda has led the Austrian to say Hamilton was correct to ignore the team order while the businessman Wolff believes Hamilton's actions cost Rosberg a chance of victory.

"This race out of safety car in the beginning and the wet conditions was a completely different race, so every minute, sixty seconds you had to decide something different," Lauda told Sky Sports after the race.

"So in this stress the team told Lewis he should let Nico by because he's on softer tyres and had to come in anyway.

"But in Lewis's position it was clear if he had been in the DRS position, Nico one second behind, for sure he would have let him by. But Nico never got that close so therefore I do understand that Lewis said 'why?' 'Why should I stop in the middle of the circuit to let my team colleague by, he's fighting for the championship anyway?'"

Related articles:

- Daniel Ricciardo wins Hungarian GP thriller
- Unlucky Hamilton needs a change in fortune

In contrast Wolff admitted a rethink will be done during the month break before the next race in Belgium as to how the team control their two battling drivers.

"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,” he also told Sky Sports.

"One of the thoughts we are having that maybe the situation is a bit different to the paper we have written down at the beginning of the season. At the moment we have a 170-something point advantage in the Constructors’ Championship and maybe it is a moment of loosening it a bit in agreement with both of them.

“I think we cannot expect for the second half of the season the drivers to move over to your main competitor. It is probably difficult now.”

Let battle commence

As Wolff says, this new rise in tensions between the two drivers comes at a very interesting time in the championship.

Should Mercedes allow the gloves to come off fully between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton then the events of Budapest will only spur on both men in their bid for the 2014 title.

It is the first time since Monaco that their relationship has appeared on the rocks as poor luck for Hamilton in qualifying and a retirement for Rosberg at Silverstone has seen one or the other in a commanding position at each race.

Allied to this the fact Red Bull has dominated the second halves of recent seasons then knowing who will the advantage where really will come down to a guessing game.

But now it could be the true pace of the Silver Arrows will be unleashed and the two drivers are free to race which could see the limits other battles between the pair have reached this year, pushed a little higher.

Red Bull & Williams wait in the wings

With the pressure of the drivers' championship on the line beginning to show, it is also possible more unreliability, as both drivers push, and mistakes could appear and as we have seen Red Bull, with Daniel Ricciardo, were in the right place at the right to capitalise during the races while Williams have also been there in qualifying.

While this has little bearing on the championship battles, unless both Mercedes suddenly starting retiring, it does means the controlled dominance seen this year could fade with the two teams there ready to pounce if the title rivals really begin to get feisty.

From what has been a great season with so many good races, now fans can look forward to a final eight race showdown to Abu Dhabi between two drivers who want to be the first man to take Sebastian Vettel's crown. Some say the Formula 1 show is boring, I really don't think so!

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