Lewis Hamilton could face disciplinary action after defying team orders in Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, says Toto Wolff

Hamilton told the team he would not listen to the order to stop slowing Rosberg down as they fought for the 2016 Formula One championship

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The Independent Online

Toto Wolff confirmed that Mercedes are considering taking disciplinary action against Lewis Hamilton after he deliberately backed Nico Rosberg into Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen to try and keep hold of his Formula One world championship at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday, all to no avail.

Hamilton’s tactics, which saw him lap the Yas Marina Circuit nine-seconds slower on his final lap than his pole-setting time, caused an unwelcome headache for the Mercedes hierarchy in the pit lane, and even led executive director Paddy Lowe to radio Hamilton in an effort to speed him up.

With Vettel closing in on much fresher tyres, Mercedes feared they would lose the race win, although that was the least of Hamilton’s concerns as he needed  two drivers between himself and Rosberg in order to hold onto his world title. Rosberg would hold on to second and clinch his maiden championship, emulating his father, Keke, who won the F1 world championship in 1982, but much of the fallout in Abu Dhabi surrounded Hamilton’s disregard of team orders.

“Undermining a structure in public means you are putting yourself before the team,” Wolff said. “It is very simple. Anarchy does not work in any team and in any company.”

But the Mercedes head of motorsport also said he will sleep on it before deciding whether to punish Hamilton, and accepted that part of what makes the three-time world champion so good is his relentless desire to win at all costs.

“The other half of me says it was Lewis’s only chance of winning the championship at the stage, and maybe you cannot demand a racing driver that is one of the best, if not the best out there, to comply in a situation where his instincts cannot make him comply,” Wolff added.

“It is about finding a solution as to how to solve that in the future because a precedent has been set. Let me sleep overnight and come up with a solution.”

Hamilton congratulated Rosberg after the race, both in parc ferme and on the podium, and labelled Rosberg a “worthy champion” even though he was keen to stress that his reliability troubles this season have led to this result. But he also defended his actions and insisted he did nothing wrong.

“I did nothing dangerous so I don’t feel I did anything unfair,” Hamilton said. “We were fighting for the world championship. I was leading. I control the pace. That’s the rules.”

Mercedes have taken a very relaxed approach over Hamilton and Rosberg since the former McLaren driver arrived in 2013, but they were unusually strict in their team orders in fear of losing the race victory to Ferrari. Former F1 race-winner Johnny Herbert was highly critical of their interference after not allowing their two drivers to race naturally, but Wolff admitted he didn’t know what to do about the scenario.

“We need to look at the overall situation and ask what does it mean,” he said. “Everything is possible. From let’s change the rules next year because, it does not work in those critical races and maybe we want to give them more freedom, or we could have the more harsh side, that we feel the values were not respected. I am not sure yet where my finger is going to point or the needle is going to go.”