Mercedes eases team orders on Hamilton and Rosberg for F1 2016

Mercedes has eased its team orders restrictions for the 2016 Formula 1 season because Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are now more comfortable together, according to Toto Wolff

Mercedes eases team orders on Hamilton and Rosberg for F1 2016

Hamilton and Rosberg were free to race last year, but within limitations including boundaries on how far their strategies could differ from each other.

World champion Hamilton questioned some of Mercedes' tactical decisions during the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix, two races where he finished second behind Rosberg but had already won the title.

Wolff said at Mercedes' pre-season event in Stuttgart that the team "have reduced" restrictions on the drivers' battle now, coinciding with the tightened radio rules that limit how much input the pitwall can have.

Mercedes was near bulletproof in testing, clocking up the most miles of any team, but rival Ferrari appeared to have made a step forward too.

Asked if it was a risk to relax intra-team rules if Ferrari was closer, Wolff replied: "No, I don't think so.

"We are reducing the rules because we have got more comfortable in working with each other.

"There is great respect among the individuals. I don't feel it will be different than it has been in the last years.

"The regulations help us because there is much less engineering input into the car and into the driver.

"There much is less guidance in terms of strategy, tyre optimisation and how to drive the car so it is much more down to them to drive the car anyway.

"That's very good for the sport. It puts more pressure and brings in additional new effort for the drivers.

"By continuing with those regulations, our role has been to step back a little bit. It pretty much fits our strategy in leaving it up to these two to fight it on track."

AUTOSPORT PERFORMANCE: Why 'team-mates' don't really exist

Wolff said the team's success over the last couple of years made the decision to take a more lenient approach with its drivers much easier.

"When we started the project in 2013, there was lot of pressure on the team in order to achieve results and win races," he said.

"We have done OK. In 2014, we won the championship and we confirmed it wasn't a one-off in 2015.

"In order to contain that, we tried to put a framework around that. Sometimes it functions, sometimes it doesn't.

"We learned some interesting lessons, we improved as an organisation.

"Lewis and Nico have been together for a couple of years. It functions pretty well.

"We owe it to them and we owe it to Formula 1 to let them race. The ride will be a bit more difficult but I think that is absolutely necessary.

"I have no doubt that [because] they are so implemented in the team, they understand the momentum and dynamics in the team."

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