Should Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton take Mercedes F1 threats seriously?

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff has given Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg a "final warning" over their on-track conduct, and his drivers would be wise not to test those waters further

Should Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton take Mercedes F1 threats seriously?

Following the last lap Austrian Grand Prix collision between the Mercedes drivers, it is understood Wolff did not speak to either of them for the first three days of this week, instead simply summoning them for talks at the team's base in Brackley where he laid down the law, initially in separate meetings, before then following up in a collective conversation that also included Paddy Lowe.

While Wolff is reluctant to impose team orders, only as "a last resort", a tightening up on the rules of engagement have been applied, with "deterrents" in place should one or other break the in-house regulations.

Mercedes willing to suspend drivers

The question now is, if/when that next incident arrives, will Wolff follow up his words with actions? If his determined mood is anything to go by, Hamilton and Rosberg would be wise not to run the risk of finding out.

Both drivers have been warned if there is a repeat of any of the incidents seen this season, or the one in the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix when Rosberg ran into Hamilton, there will be consequences that will have "a negative effect on their campaign".

Wolff recognises while he can fine either man, even docking millions from two incredibly wealthy people does not carry the effect as it would on a person less well-off.

There is another course of action open to Wolff and Mercedes, one that would undoubtedly hurt either man, and that would be to impose a race suspension.

In a briefing Wolff suggested dropping Hamilton or Rosberg would be akin to a star player in a football team being suspended.

The response was there are 11 players in a team, but only two drivers, to which Wolff maintained his team could cope and he has substitutes.

To that end Wolff would turn to reserve Pascal Wehrlein, assuming his contract with Manor includes a recall clause, or even junior Esteban Ocon, who is on reserve duty at Renault.

Wolff has to now set an example, to show his star drivers they are not bigger than a team that comprises 1,000 people behind the scenes who provide them with 'a toy' they occasionally like to bash into one another.

If Wolff fails to follow through it would be like threatening an errant child and punishment, only to shy away and for that child to know it can get away with crossing the boundaries.

And if they do collide, what are the limits? Presumably a bit of wheel-banging will be tolerated, and you also have to assume blame would need to be apportioned.

The case is clear for Spa 2014 and Austria 2016 when Rosberg was found guilty by the stewards, with action taken for the former incident by the team.

If there is a repeat of what unfolded in Austria, is that enough for Mercedes to impose a suspension? In the Spanish GP, deemed a racing incident by the stewards, 43 points were potentially lost for a one-two. What happens then? Drop both?

And for argument's sake, would Mercedes seriously axe Hamilton for the race at Silverstone with 135,000 fans in attendance this Sunday, many of whom will have bought tickets to cheer on their hero alone?

There is no doubt Wolff is a highly-intelligent man, and he is all too aware of the ripples of discontent it would send through the sponsors and fans, but the suggestion was his shoulders are broad enough to take the flak.

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