Mercedes should have refrained from issuing team orders at the final race in Abu Dhabi and allowed Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to race as they deemed appropriate, team boss Toto Wolff has said.
The Briton, who was chasing his third world title with the Silver Arrows team and fourth overall, was second favourite as Rosberg just needed to finish on the podium to clinch his maiden title, which he did with a second place finish. Hamilton, who was clearly faster than the rest of the field the entire weekend, chose to control the pace of the race from the front rather than run his own race at the front.
The 31-year-old used the backing up tactic and slowed down the entire field in the hope that the Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who were both on different tyre strategies, catch Rosberg and put him under pressure. It almost worked as the quartet were covered by three seconds at the finish, which later Rosberg admitted was nerve racking.
The Mercedes hierarchy were not impressed with Hamilton's tactics during the race and constantly asked him to increase his pace. The Mercedes driver, however, chose to ignore their calls and continued to slow the pace down and increase the pressure on Rosberg. Wolff was infuriated with driver initially and indicated that he could be penalised for his actions.
However, focus shifted from his actions in the last race back to Robserg in the following days after German announced his shock retirement and Niki Lauda later revealed that the three-time world champion will not be punished for his actions. The Mercedes motorsport boss has now admitted that the team were wrong in issuing the orders and believe their views could have been 'communicated differently' at the time.
"In the heat of the moment, sometimes when you make decisions you get them wrong," Wolff told Sky Sports F1
"In our mind, the way we think, this race is giving us the same number of points as other races and we try to win that one, not considering that there was much more at stake for the drivers.
"How the race panned out, we should have communicated differently and in hindsight let them race in the way they deemed to be appropriate," the Mercedes chief explained.