Prost: Don't overreact to teammate rivalry
ALAIN Prost has warned Mercedes to be ultra-careful in their handling of the street-fighting duel between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton in this weekend's Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix.
The four-time former world champion, who was embroiled in a similar intra-team scrap with Ayrton Senna when both raced for McLaren in the late 1980s, said he felt Mercedes had overreacted in previous races and bowed to outside pressures.
As the heat intensifies ahead of the final races of a gripping season dominated by Mercedes, both men have sought to avoid inflaming a rivalry that team chief Toto Wolff this week described as "like enemies".
Prost, however, believes such emotive language has made the situation even worse.
"I don't think the team have been 100 per cent right," said the Frenchman.
"In Hungary and Spa, they were not right, not 100 per cent. They should react only to the facts and not the consequences."
Acting in his role as an ambassador for Renault, Prost added: "The consequence in Spa (when Rosberg collided unnecessarily with Hamilton, leading to the latter's eventual retirement) was very bad - they lost a race that they should not lose, and for Lewis, it was very bad.
"That's the consequence, but the fact is almost nothing - it's just a misjudgment. You cannot do that on purpose because you know there is a much better chance to break your front wing and not cause a puncture."
Referring to Hamilton's widely publicised accusation that Rosberg had admitted that he deliberately refused to avoid a collision at Spa, Prost added: "That is stupid, what I read, 'He has done it on purpose' - it's really absolutely impossible, but then they over-reacted and everybody over-reacted. That is the risk of this kind of situation.
"Very often, it is not coming from the drivers themselves, but from outside, and I was very surprised that Toto (Wolff) and Niki (Lauda) - they almost attacked Nico. That could destabilise the situation.
"Until now, they have done no mistakes, in my opinion. But here, now, it's going to be much more difficult."
Both drivers yesterday welcomed the chance to race clean and fair with restricted radio messages in the season's only night race.
"It's definitely a good thing, because it's just more pure racing. Until now we did so much based on what they (engineers) told us to do on the radio. Now it's up to us," said Rosberg.
Hamilton said the clampdown could affect the intense title battle between himself and Rosberg.
"It's going to be really important that we're on the same strategy. Always," he said.
"There have been a couple of times when Nico has been on a different strategy to me that gives either more or less power and those things disadvantage you.
"So as long as you don't have any problems there, the rest of it we'll manage."