Toto Wolff weighs up options after Lewis Hamilton ignored direct orders

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YAS MARINA, Abu Dhabi -- Toto Wolff says he is split over how to react to Lewis Hamilton's race tactics at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after his driver ignored a direct order from fellow team boss Paddy Lowe.

In one last attempt to force the championship back in his favour, Hamilton backed teammate Nico Rosberg into the chasing pack at the season finale in Abu Dhabi. If Rosberg dropped from second to fourth Hamilton would have been back in line for the title, but ultimately Rosberg finished second to take the championship.

"As it was a highly probable scenario [Hamilton's tactics], there was lots of discussion around it [ahead of the race]," Wolff said. "Not only this morning, but it was clear that it was one of the possible ways for Lewis to win the championship, if Nico came under threat from behind and that's exactly what happened. It didn't come as a surprise."

Towards the end of the race, Mercedes technical boss Lowe came over the radio to tell Hamilton to speed up in the fear Sebastian Vettel, on the faster super-soft tyre, would close in and overtake both drivers.

"Our number one principle in three years -- it doesn't matter whether it's the first race or the last -- is to ensure the win," Wolff added. "Now you can question that, whether it's the right principle going forward, but that's exactly what we did on the pit wall, there was two moments and this is why we asked him to increase the pace and it wasn't for any other reason."

Mercedes has "rules of engagement" to cover sensitive scenarios such as Sunday's race, including an order of command from the pit wall. Ordinarily only the driver's race engineer communicates over the pit-to-car radio, and Lowe is only brought in when the message is of the highest order.

"Yes, Paddy with the instruction is the highest escalation we have in our rules of engagement," Wolff confirmed. "We have invented those rules of engagement together, a while ago, on a table in Melbourne."

By disobeying the order and putting a one-two victory at risk, Hamilton was in breach of the team's internal rules. Wolff said he had not yet decided how to deal with his driver's disobedience.

"Once again, I'm in two minds. The one half of me says we have 1,500 people in the team, 300,000 in Daimler that create values. They respect those values and undermining the structure in public means you are putting yourself before the team. It's very simple, it is like it is. And anarchy doesn't work within any team or any company.

"The other half of me says it was Lewis' only chance of winning the championship at that stage and maybe you cannot demand a racing driver that is, one of the best, if not the best out there -- a real guard dog in the car -- to comply in a situation where his instincts cannot make him comply.It's about finding a solution how to solve that in the future because a precedent has been set. So let me sleep overnight and come up with a solution tomorrow."

Previously there has been talk of a significant financial penalty -- and possibly a race suspension -- if Rosberg or Hamilton breach the rules of engagement. Asked if such measures were possible after Sunday's race, Wolff said he was not ruling anything out.

"I think we need to look at the overall situation and say what does it mean? Everything is possible from 'let's change the rules for next year because it doesn't work in those critical races and maybe we want to give them even more freedom in racing each other' -- we will consult with them -- to the more harsh side that we feel the values were not respected. This is 180 degrees and I'm not sure yet where the needle is going to go."