Mercedes boss Toto Wolff fears a "messy situation" could develop in next weekend's title decider in Abu Dhabi if lessons aren't learned by F1's top protagonists from last weekend's scuffle on the streets of Jeddah.
For only the second time in F1 history, two title contenders will start a season finale tied on points, but Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton head to Yas Marina with a baggage of contention, much of it fueled by last weekend's brawl in Saudi Arabia.
In last Sunday's race, Verstappen was twice penalized for his uncompromising on-track conduct by the stewards who, along with F1 race director Michael Masi, were on their toes from start to finish to monitor and scrutinize the fierce duel between F1's two top contenders.
Wolff fears that if the on-track action is as contentious in Abu Dhabi as it was last weekend, and if penalties go flying, then the title race could dissolve into a "messy" affair unworthy of F1.
"I hope [the Jeddah] race has enough repercussions that everyone’s going to learn from it and adapt for the final race in Abu Dhabi," said the Mercedes F1 boss.
"I think that similar driving, if it were to be deemed by the stewards as over the line, would then probably also be penalised in Abu Dhabi, and that could well end in a messy situation for everybody.
"And I don't think that the championship has deserved a result which was influenced by a collision. I very much, in that case, trust into the self-regulating system.
Verstappen's aggressive driving in Jeddah mirrored his approach in Brazil last month when the Dutchman defended at all costs his leading position against Hamilton, running his opponent wide at one point in a controversial move that went unsanctioned by the stewards.
But the Red Bull driver received no free pass from the stewards for a similar maneuver in Jeddah, which revived Wolff's perplexity regarding the officials' ruling in Sao Paulo.
"You know I said that in Brazil, that we're setting a precedent, if it's not being investigated, that could end up really ugly for the championship," Wolff said.
"You've seen incidents today that were pretty much Brazil at slower speeds. And we don't want to have that in Abu Dhabi.
"The quicker car with the quicker driver should win the championship, and not by taking each other off."