Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has denied there are any rules of engagement in place to control any of the drivers under his control, including George Russell.
The British driver's career is in the hands of Toto Wolff, with Russell backed by Mercedes. This became particularly contentious in the wake of the Imola crash, where Russell collided with the works Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas while going for an overtake.
Wolff initially appeared to put the blame solely at Russell's feet, saying he had 'a lot to learn' and needed greater 'global perspective' about racing a Mercedes for position. But Wolff explained on Friday at Portimao that he hasn't insisted on any rules of engagement being put in place to govern any Mercedes-affiliated drivers, after Russell and Bottas both revealed they've had extensive conversations with the Austrian team boss since Imola.
"I think I want most of it to stay confidential because I had discussions with both of the drivers," Wolff told media on Friday.
"Drivers have to go for a gap. Sometimes it’s evaluating whether it’s taking a risk or not. I guess that a young driver will always go for the possibility and nothing else is expected.
"The question is, is there enough reaction time to evaluate who is the other car? I think not. In a way, there is never 100 percent blame on one and zero on the other one. It’s probably always much more nuanced and I’m really happy about the conversation that we had.
"There is no confusion on any side and there are no rules for any of the drivers. It’s just us giving feedback."
With Russell describing Bottas as a 'sort of teammate', RacingNews365.com asked Wolff why Bottas didn't defend less aggressively if it was a two-way teammate situation. Wolff declined to answer, saying, "I don’t know what I should really respond to such a question… I have no response."
Wolff went on to speak to Sky Sports in more detail about the incident, saying he and Russell had played backgammon while discussing how the Imola crash unfolded.
"We've always spoken not only because we had an incident," Wolff stated. "But I tried to be as open and honest with with all of the drivers and Valtteri and I had a chance to talk right after the incident. And the same with George, we spent some time together, which is always good.
"I think the most important thing is that you give feedback and feedback to analyse the situation, it's clear that one driver defends, the other one attacks. And this is what the sport needs.
"And if it ends with a crash, in that case, it was a costly crash. Could it have been avoided? I don't know. Really. The driver doesn't have a spreadsheet in the car to calculate how much it's gonna cost! So yeah, it was more about giving feedback."