Lewis Hamilton was instructed to let Nico Rosberg past during the second half of the race.
Mercedes have used team orders on the pair in the past – notably in Malaysia and Germany last year. But with Rosbreg and Hamilton clear ahead in the fight for the championship the interference in their battle this year has taken on added significance.
The two drivers were running on different strategies at the time. Hamilton was on the harder tyre and expecting to make it to the end of the race without a pit stop. Rosberg, however, was intending to make a further stop for another set of softs.
Hamilton was told “Rosberg has one more stop so don’t hold him up”. Another message later gave a more specific order, “let Nico past on the main start/finish straight”, to which Hamilton replied, “I’m not slowing down for Nico”. Meanwhile Rosberg was asking why Hamilton hadn’t let him past, as he’d been advised would happen.
Hamilton’s explanation for not letting Rosberg past was that if he had done so Rosberg would have finished ahead of him and extended his championship lead.
From Mercedes’ point of view, having Hamilton let Rosberg could have given their second car the chance to attack Daniel Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso for victory later in the race – though of course, he would have had to pass Hamilton a second time to do that, by which time Hamilton’s tyres would have left him less able to defend.
Were Mercedes right to try to impose team orders on their drivers? Does their strong position in the constructors’ championship mean the time has passed for this type of order to be necessary?
Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.
Should Mercees have ordered Hamilton to let Rosberg past?
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- Slightly agree (8%)
- Neither agree nor disagree (5%)
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