Lewis Hamilton is facing the risk of losing his contract with Mercedes after he deliberately slowed down and disobeyed team orders in the final stages of Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2016 on 27 November.
Hamilton, who went on to win the race at the Yas Marina Circuit, lost the F1 driver's championship crown to teammate Nico Rosberg, who finished second but managed to end the season with a five-point lead over the Brit in the driver's standings.
The newly-crowned champion had to withstand late pressure from Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull's Max Verstappen as Hamilton slowed down in the closing laps hoping that the German would be overtaken. Had Rosberg fallen behind the third spot, the Brit would have gone on to retain the F1 championship crown. However, that was not the case on Sunday.
Hamilton was asked multiple times by race engineer Pete Bonnington to increase his pace but the 31-year-old ignored the instructions. Mercedes feared the race leader's tactics would have allowed Vettel, who finished third, to overtake both their team's drivers and win the race.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, who was furious after the race, did not rule out the possibility of a harsh punishment to Hamilton. He labelled the Briton's tactics "anarchy". Notably, the three-time world champion's contract with his German constructors ends in 2018.
"Everything is possible. Anarchy does not work in any team and in any company. Undermining a structure in public means you are putting yourself before the team," Wolff said, as quoted by the Daily Express.
"From let's change the rules next year because it does not work in those critical races and maybe we want to give them more freedom. Or do the more harsh side that we feel the values were not respected. I am not sure yet where my finger is going to point or the needle is going to go."
With Rosberg saying Sunday's race was not the easiest he had faced in his career because of the pressure in the end, Hamilton defended his tactics and also hit out at his team saying that he was never going to lose the race and the instructions were unnecessary.
"I don't know why they didn't just let us just race. There was never a moment where I felt I was going to lose the race. It's a shame that they wouldn't but it's quite clear their thought process and yeah I mean I don't really have much to say," Hamilton said, as qouted by F1's official website.
"I am out there fighting and I generally never try to do anything to harm the team or the brand or anything like that. But we have won the Constructors' Championship so it was down to me and Nico today. And however, they still felt they needed to make comments."