Mercedes have been branded “naive” by Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, as they weigh up whether to punish Lewis Hamilton for defying team orders.
Hamilton’s Mercedes team were angry with his tactics in the title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as he backed team-mate Nico Rosberg into the clutches of the chasing pack in a desperate bid to win the championship.
Mercedes feared the ploy would cost the team victory and issued two instructions for the Briton to pick up his pace, both of which were ignored.
Toto Wolff, the Mercedes boss, hinted at disciplinary proceedings against Hamilton after the race, with the team to determine in the coming days what, if any, action they will take against the triple world champion.
Hamilton needed Rosberg to finish fourth or lower to win the title and Horner gave his support to the British driver.
“It was only ever going to be that kind of battle between the two of them,” said Horner. “He won the race as slowly as he could. It’s like in a football game where the team might protect from the opposition by kicking the ball around and not enabling the opposition to get hold of the ball. I didn’t see that he did anything wrong.
“Congratulations to Nico, he’s a very worthy world champion. But it was naive to think there would be any different approach to this race with what’s at stake.”