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Christian Horner: Mercedes must consider line-up change

Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Red Bull boss Christian Horner says Mercedes must consider if its current driver line-up is "tenable" in the long term after another collision between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in Austria.

Hamilton won in Spielberg despite a last-lap clash with teammate Rosberg, who had been leading the race but had to settle for fourth due to damage from the incident. The collision nearly elevated Max Verstappen to a victory in a scenario which would have been similar to his maiden win in Barcelona earlier this year, which came after the Mercedes drivers crashed out while vying for the lead on the opening lap.

When it was put to him that he must want the collisions to continue as a rival team boss, Horner said: "You always want to win on merit and it is never good to benefit on others misfortune. But you've got to be there to capitalise.

"I think for Mercedes, in the long term, how tenable is it for that pairing to continue as a team?"

Rosberg's contract expires at the end of the current season, though Mercedes have said the Austria clash will have no impact on extension talks.

Horner was then asked if one solution was to have one driver of a different calibre to the other, and he replied: "While they are in the situation they are in with the competitiveness they have and the closeness of performance they are obviously going to have these issues and will not be isolated to this race.

"That is an attractive element for the sport and I think when you have got a dominant car it is great to see the cars going head-to-head."

Horner has experience of managing a tricky teammate rivalry, with Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber enduring a difficult relationship in their five years at Red Bull together. With Mercedes now considering team orders Horner says that in itself is a tricky situation for any team to properly implement.

"It is enormously difficult because no matter how much those guys says they are team players they are contractors and racing for themselves. They are going for the biggest prize in motorsport.

"Inevitably they will do what is right for them. I think they've got sufficient margin over the rest of the field why do they need to consider that. It creates interest in F1 which it needs with two teammates who may not be best of mates."