Mercedes will decide in the next two days how to proceed in the wake of the latest collision between teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
Boss Toto Wolff left Austria declaring that team orders would be back on the table in the talks to be held prior to the British grand prix this weekend.
But the Telegraph reported that more extreme options, like the spectre of huge financial penalties or even race suspensions, may also be under consideration by the reigning champion team.
‘Hamilton and Rosberg could be fined or even suspended by Mercedes if they crash again under drastic deterrents being considered by the world champions in a bid to avoid imposing team orders,’ Daniel Johnson wrote in The Daily Telegraph.
World champion Hamilton said he hopes team orders are not implemented because it would take the “joy” of racing away from him and “rob” the fans.
But even Niki Lauda, Mercedes’ team chairman who has always argued against the imposition of team orders, admitted the German squad has a tough call to make.
“We set up clear rules after the crash at Spa (in 2014) but now it’s happened again in Barcelona and Austria. So it doesn’t work anymore,” he told Bild newspaper.
Lauda’s new opinion could be driven by the spectre of competition, with the F1 legend warning that Ferrari continues to close on Mercedes.
“Ferrari are there, there’s no question,” he told German broadcaster RTL.
Corriere dello Sport, an Italian specialist daily, said the events of the Red Bull Ring showed that the problem at Mercedes is “the absolute lack of mutual respect between the two drivers”.
Red Bull’s Christian Horner thinks the duo might even now be “untenable”, but he also thinks team orders would be wrong.
“I think their advantage over the others is big enough and a rivalry like that is also good for the sport,” said the Briton.