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Wolff: Main objective is not to interfere

NEWS STORY
27/11/2016

In the wake of the numerous conspiracy theories that have sprung up over the course of the season, some in the last 48 hours, Mercedes is hoping the 2016 title is decided by a good clean race.

Heaven forbid Lewis Hamilton should suffer a poor start or - horror of horrors - a late Malaysia-style technical failure.

Of course, his drivers have history, and speaking earlier this weekend Toto Wolff admitted that two of his worst experiences this season were the clashes in Barcelona and the Red Bull Ring.

Nonetheless, the team is aiming to sit back and watch the race - and championship outcome - unfurl, without the need to interfere, trusting its drivers not to do anything silly.

"We can’t really interfere in the final race,” he told reporters. “We’ve let them race until now, they both know what we deem as being sportsmanlike.

"But then there is a lot at stake," he admitted, "there’s a world championship to be won or lost.

"I think both of them will have thought about all possibilities," he continued. "For us, as long as we are not overstepping the mark in what as we see as being sportsmanlike driving, we are fine, I think we need to let them go. We don’t want to change the rules, because it would be wrong that for the one title decider, we would turn everything upside down that we have developed in the last couple of years.

"The drivers are great sportsmen," he insisted, "and they know what it would mean, overstepping the line, it would cause a lot of controversy.

"Therefore I trust that this is going to go well, for the benefit of the team, and the team spirit, and the effort that has been given, and the fans.

“It’s a difficult situation for all of us in the team," he admitted. "You might say that we are in a very privileged position in that, whoever wins, it’s going to be a Mercedes driver. The truth is we have kept neutral all over these last three years.

"Tomorrow is going to be particularly difficult, and has been already this weekend, to give them support when they need it, not interfere too much, not over-manage, but just let them fight it out on track. Give them a car which has the pace, which we’ve seen today we were able to achieve, and a strategy that works for both.

"That’s another tricky area, with the Red Bulls clearly on an offset strategy, and Ferrari having pace," he admitted. "The main objective is to interfere the least in the world championship, and let the drivers fight it out on track.”

Asked about Red Bull's strategy and the widespread feeling that the Austrian team could play a major role in the outcome of today's title fight, he said: "We were expecting them to have one car on the supersoft, but not both.

"It is an offset strategy," he continued, "it’s not the fastest strategy, and in out algorithms starting with the ultrasoft is the better tyre, because you can’t take the supersoft much further... we’re speaking of a couple of laps. But I guess Red Bull hasn’t got the pace here to win it on the same strategy, I guess that was the thinking, and an offset strategy gives additional potential.

“That’s why it’s a bit of a headache, in the same way that Ferrari’s pace is a bit of a headache. But again our main objective is that it’s being fought out on track, when the lights go green it’s on the drivers.”

The Austrian also confirmed that there will be no change to the team's priorities in terms of driver strategy.

"No matter what happens the car which is leading the race or in a better position is going to have the strategy call and the priority," he said, "because winning the race is our number one objective.

"The second driver can either choose the same strategy or be on any other variances. The procedure doesn't change because it is a title decider."

Check out our Sunday gallery from Abu Dhabi, here.

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