What will happen next after Lewis Hamilton defied Mercedes team orders?

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Lewis Hamilton is in hot water with Mercedes after defying team orders at the championship-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

But what exactly is Hamilton adjudged to have done, and what repercussions might he face?

So, what has Hamilton been accused of?

Lewis Hamilton wins the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
(Kamran Jebreili/AP)

Hamilton needed Nico Rosberg to finish outside of the top three in Abu Dhabi to win the title. Leading Rosberg, he attempted to back his rival into the clutches of the chasing pack in the hope that Sebastian Vettel or Max Verstappen (ideally both) would pass his Mercedes team-mate.

Hamilton did this by driving to within the full parameters of his Mercedes car, but also ensuring Rosberg was unable to pass. Mercedes took a dim view of his tactics however, as they feared it would cost the team a victory.

Hamilton ignored two orders from the pit wall to pick up the pace - including one special request from the team's technical boss Paddy Lowe - and was later accused of causing "anarchy" by Toto Wolff, the Mercedes team boss. Hamilton denied any wrongdoing.

Has Hamilton done this sort of thing before?

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton leads team mate Nico Rosberg at the 2015 Chinese Grand Prix
(Toru Takahashi/AP)

There have been two other occasions where Hamilton has been accused of backing Rosberg up. The first came at the Chinese Grand Prix last year, and the second in Hungary, with Hamilton winning on both occasions.

But it should also be noted that Hamilton boasts one of the cleanest records in the sport, having never been penalised for causing a collision. The same cannot be said for his team-mate Rosberg.

What happens next?

Mercedes' Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda
(David Davies/PA)

While Wolff sympathised with the unique position Hamilton was in, the Mercedes boss refused to rule out taking disciplinary action.

"Undermining a structure in public means you are putting yourself before the team," he said. "Anarchy does not work in any team, and in any company. A precedent has been set."

Earlier this season, and following two crashes in Spain and Austria, both Hamilton and Rosberg were warned that they could be fined, or even banned, if they broke the strict terms of engagement which have been laid down by the team.

So, Hamilton could be kicked off the team?

Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton
(Luca Bruno/AP)

In theory, yes, although such a punishment appears unlikely. It is more probable that Mercedes will put the incident down to extenuating circumstances and give Hamilton little more than a slap on the wrist.