AF Corse are frustrated by Mercedes’ team order tactics in the DTM finale last weekend, which cost Kiwi driver Liam Lawson a shot at the championship.
But Mercedes customer racing boss Thomas Jager defends the move and suggests team orders are a part of the sport.
Lawson was still in title-winning contention late in the final race at the Norisring despite being crashed into by Kelvin van der Linde on lap one.
All he needed was for Maximilian Gotz not to win the race. Gotz was in third as the chequered flag drew nearer.
However, Mercedes asked first and second place drivers Lucas Auer and Philip Ellis to move over and allow the fellow AMG GT3 of Gotz into the lead.
Team orders gifted Gotz the race win and the championship.
A vividly upset AF Corse Ferrari team later said after the race that Mercedes’ ploy was a “disgrace for the sport.”
“We could have all fought it out fair and square today and the better one would have won,” team boss Ron Reichert said. “Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.”
But Jager insists that any team in a position like Mercedes to use team orders would have done so.
“If we are in this position and swapping positions for getting the title, I think everybody would do it.
“It’s part of the game.
“It’s great we are having this kind of team and these drivers because next time maybe someone else will be in a position to benefit from it and that’s why I can say thank you to all of our teams.”
Lawson didn’t vent too much frustration for the lap one crash that eliminated him from the race. Instead, he was disappointed not to give the AF Corse team the driver’s title trophy.
“I’m just disappointed for the whole team, they really deserved this [title], they worked so hard this year,” he said.
“Every weekend I’ve given the absolute maximum, I really wanted to repay them with the title.”
AF Corse did comfortably win the team’s championship in their first year in DTM.
They are not currently committed to racing in the series for 2022.