The Mercedes Formula 1 team risks finding itself in a "big mess" if its management does not get the feud between its drivers under control quickly, warns McLaren's Eric Boullier.
Following a controversial coming together between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton at the Belgian Grand Prix, Mercedes chiefs are set for urgent talks with its battling duo to try to work out where the team goes from here.
Mercedes accepts that it cannot let the breakdown in relations that has now caused trouble on track to allow Red Bull rival Daniel Ricciardo to snatch the title following his latest F1 win in Belgium.
"There is always a risk," said McLaren racing director Boullier while speaking to AUTOSPORT about whether there was a danger of Mercedes' troubles derailing its title campaign.
"If there is a very serious degradation in the relationship between the drivers and between the drivers and the team, you will end up with a big, big mess."
Boullier concedes, however, that there is no obvious path that Mercedes can take to deal with the matter - especially because the crash between its drivers came so early in the race.
When asked how the team can control Hamilton and Rosberg from now on, Boullier said: "You can't. It is unfortunate it happened on lap two but it is a racing incident.
"If you watch the last races it has happened many times. So it is unfortunate, and I understand why they may be upset because they missed a one-two result, but this is racing."
Boullier also suggests that Mercedes has to decide whether to have a media blackout about how it has resolved matter, or that it needs to explain what action it has taken - which could risk fuelling the controversy further.
"It depends on how much coverage you want after in the press," he said. "If you start to blame the drivers then obviously it is a policy that I will not recommend.
"It is better to clear the air outside of the track, but I am happy to not have that problem to manage. In the end you tend to think you are shooting yourself - but this is part of racing as well."