Mercedes will have no hesitation in imposing team orders on its drivers again if it is in the squad's best interests, despite suggestions it had abandoned the policy after the controversial Malaysian Grand Prix.
Niki Lauda, the team's non-executive chairman, said several times in China that Mercedes would not use team orders anymore after Nico Rosberg was left unhappy at being told to hold position behind Lewis Hamilton at Sepang. But both team principal Ross Brawn and Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff insist that, while Mercedes' drivers are free to race each other, it will still use orders if it feels circumstances require it.
"In fairness, Niki like all of us wants to see his drivers race," said Brawn, when asked to clarify the situation on team orders at Mercedes. "None of us as sportsmen like team orders. It is something for us that in rare circumstances I must say is the best decision for the team. And in very rare circumstances I am sure we will reach those conclusions again. But we do want the drivers to race each other.
"We don't want to do it, but there are times when we have to look at the team situation as well as the drivers. And I was obviously delighted and very pleased that the drivers understood and respected the decision we had reached [in Malaysia]."
Wolff added: "There is one order in the team: that is that we would like to see our guys race. We are not racing for ourselves, but we are racing for the spectators and fans and we must never forget that. But there could be a situation where we have to intervene from the pit wall, as harmful as it is for the sport.
"Either there is a technical issue, like we had in Malaysia, where you need to inform the drivers that there is a risk of cars breaking down and you need to intervene. Then they can either note it themselves and can cope with the situation, or you need to tell them.
"The second possible situation – and equally awful – is that at the end of the season, if one has the chance of winning the championship or being right at the top and the other hasn't anymore, we have to ask, do we want to, for the team's success, intervene? They are the possible situations."