Should Mercedes have used team orders on Hamilton?

2014 Hungarian Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Hockenheimring, 2014Mercedes took a controversial decision to impose team orders on their championship-leading drivers during the Hungarian Grand Prix.

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?

  • Strongly agree (7%)
  • Slightly agree (8%)
  • Neither agree nor disagree (5%)
  • Slightly disagree (11%)
  • Strongly disagree (68%)
  • No opinion (1%)

Total Voters: 665

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195 comments on Should Mercedes have used team orders on Hamilton?

  1. DaveD (@daved) said on 27th July 2014, 17:17

    I despise team orders in general and as many have pointed out there were SO many reasons it was wrong here. I’m glad Lewis had the stones to ignore what was obviously a bad call by the team.

  2. lucho19 (@lucho19) said on 27th July 2014, 17:27

    Absolutely NO !
    All races/points are for the Championship! Let pass your greatest rival?
    I am impressed from Mercedes, how Naive….
    Even worst…after all HAM efforts…starting from the pit lane….how do you even dare to ask !

  3. Damomw said on 27th July 2014, 17:32

    The team cost Hamilton a shot at the win and Rosberg a podium, Lewis was on the radio saying the tyres wouldn’t last so why didn’t they pit Hamilton for a new set of softs?

  4. medman (@medman) said on 27th July 2014, 17:32

    Mercedes ordering Hamilton to let Rosberg through was beyond ridiculous. Rosberg was not being held up to the degree where that order should have even been relayed to Hamilton. Does the team not understand exactly what these drivers are fighting for? And considering how badly the team have let Lewis down this year, both in the pits with inferior pit stops and with lack of reliability on Hamilton’s side of the garage, they should have kept their mouths shut. Good on Lewis for not exploding on the radio over that order. He would have been well within his rights to ask the team what the hell they were talking about.

  5. MagicSpin said on 27th July 2014, 17:33

    It seemed to me that this was a completely unfair team order… At the relevant point in the race it seemed that Hamilton and Rosberg both had a shot at victory (admittedly ROS better) but HAM’s involved beating ROS by slowing him down a touch without giving ground to Ricciardo. They were directly racing each other; this is not how you treat equal teammates.

  6. budchekov (@budchekov) said on 27th July 2014, 17:33

    No way, how insulting.
    ‘why isn’t Lewis letting me by’!!
    Was Lewis supposed to pull over on a strait, have a cup of tea, and wait to wave him by… at that point Nikkums was never close.. I’m beginning to really dislike Rosberg’s sense of entitlement, as I suspect is Lewis….

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 27th July 2014, 19:07

      To be clear, NR only asked that because he had been told that LH had been told to let him go. No sense of entitlement by NR at all, since it was the team that was wanting it that way. LH was right because NR was not right up his gearbox, but NR was probably just more confused than anything, having been told LH was to let him go since he still had anther stop to make. I think people are not trying hard enough to look at the situation as it was happening, not in hindsight.

      • Still, even if the team told him that Lewis was going to let him threw he should have realized is a little too much to expect him to let him threw by slowing down a lot so he can pass from so much distance. So what was Rosberg playing there? Did he thought Hamilton should lose seconds just so he can stay in safe distance and not harm his tyres more?
        The guy seriously lost the plot there.

  7. Absurd ask a race driver to yield his position to one that is not even the fighting, well done Lewis!

  8. maarten.f1 (@maarten-f1) said on 27th July 2014, 17:41

    You have to wonder how much of an order it really was though. The request was ignored, and they didn’t really push the issue as far as we know. On hindsight it’s easy to have an opinion about it, but apparently the team thought it was necessary at the time. I have no problem with Hamilton ignoring the team order (or request, whichever you want to call it), but he must realize that when the roles are reversed, it might come back to haunt him.

    I’m sure there will be plenty to talk about behind closed doors though.

  9. Glenn (@glennb) said on 27th July 2014, 17:41

    Well they did use team orders. They told Lewis not to hold Nico up. As it turns out Lewis didn’t hold Nico up. Tick.
    Whether they should have given the order in the first place is a no-brainer. Nico was on a different strategy and was stopping 1 more time than Lewis. The order was appropriate. We’ve seen it dozens of times before across all teams. Nothing new here today. Had they told Lewis to move over then that would have been different, a-la Massa-Alonso at Ferrari. By (Mercedes) not giving that order they may have cost themselves the race win in retrospect. OK, assuming Nico could have pulled a genuine gap on Lewis at the time which seems unlikely.

  10. Valhyre (@ausuma) said on 27th July 2014, 17:42

    Well if you wonder why Lewis car fail so much compared to Nico’s is easy to see.
    One is a team player the other a hard head that only cares about himself.

    • Eric (@) said on 27th July 2014, 17:45

      @ausuma

      Rosberg would have done the same.

      Alonso would have done the same, Ricciardo would have done the same, Button would have done the same.
      Hell, my grandmother would have done the same.

      But then, she was one tough cookie.

    • DaveD (@daved) said on 27th July 2014, 17:54

      @ausuma
      You have a very skewed view compared to everyone else on here. It seems your dislike of Lewis is overriding your view of what was actually going on in the race.

  11. Eric (@) said on 27th July 2014, 17:43

    Seeing as I’m always against teamorders this case is no different.
    I’m against teamorders when Red Bull want to gift a grumpy australian a victory, I’m against teamorders when Ferrari ask a Brazilian to move out of the way exactly one year after the guy almost died so of course I’m against it when the driver who was supposed to let through wasn’t even close enough to get DRS.

  12. vivek said on 27th July 2014, 17:46

    ONCE , Ferrari was criticized big time for team orders as if no other team does… NOW?. It’s Team sport and hence Team order is unavoidable!

  13. JCost (@jcost) said on 27th July 2014, 17:52

    Lewis made two crucial calls of his own during the race:

    1. When Alonso pitted, Lewis told his engineer he wanted to stay out for two extra laps to run in free air
    2. He told his team that letting Nico past (over 1 second behind him) would hurt his race, and thinking about his own race he did not obey the order.

    Too bad he did not make the final call to go out on softs for his last stint and maybe 2nd or even win would be possible because Fernando made 31 laps on those softs… with quicker softs he would have the chance the get past Alonso and eventually build a bigger gap to fend of Daniel Ricciardo…

    • Michael (@freelittlebirds) said on 27th July 2014, 19:07

      Amazing it makes you wonder what the strategists were thinking – as someone else brought up had he stayed on the old softs for a few more laps and switched to softs, Lewis and Merc might have done the impossible today.

      • potato potato said on 28th July 2014, 5:37

        I have no doubt that those strategists try to do their best and probably are thrown when drivers decide to stay out for a few laps – changing the cusp point.
        Merc and Redbull were conservative with Rosberg and Ricciardo at the end, holding them both on the old tyres even considering ‘new’ softs were scrubbed.

  14. Abuelo Paul (@abuello-paul) said on 27th July 2014, 17:53

    Definately, no team orders for me. Unless it is for the sake of the Drivers Championship of course, if one driver is far beyond the reach of the second. But when it is so close at the top let them fight it out.
    KEITH: maybe you have an opinion, I was of the impression that the F1 World Championship was a drivers competition with the Constructors championship taking second stage. So why the heck are the team able to make team orders to benefit the team. I think it’s about time F1 stood back, looked at it’s basic aim in life and had a rethink about the “rules”.

  15. Adam Last said on 27th July 2014, 17:55

    No opinion. Mercedes DID use team orders on Hamilton but they DID NOT WORK. I know. Interesting concept.

  16. Yoshisune (@yobo01) said on 27th July 2014, 17:59

    Well, it’s one of those situations where I can’t really decide if I agree or disagree.
    We want to see good racing and team orders don’t allow that. Furthermore, Rosberg and Hamilton are the only drivers capable of winning the championship, so a team order may not be the wisest thing to do.

    But Rosberg had a very different strategy and he had the chance to win the race. It was not going to be easy, but letting Rosberg through wouldn’t have affected Hamilton’s race too much, he could have attacked Alonso anyway. If I see it from a team principal point of view I prefer to have two drivers on two different strategies that can potentially win the race, rather than only one.

    When I heard the team radio I was quite indifferent, to be honest. It made sense for Mercedes, but it was not very nice to Lewis. So, yeah, I vote the third option.

    • Damonw said on 27th July 2014, 18:24

      How the hell did he have the chance to win? Hamilton had track position! Mercedes cost Hamilton a shot at the win by not pitting Lewis for the soft tyres.

      • chris (@9chris9) said on 27th July 2014, 18:43

        Exactly what I was going to write

        • Robbie (@robbie) said on 28th July 2014, 1:14

          Still not sure I see that. Mercedes own info was that the softs were good for 23 laps, and I suppose some stretched that but what were they like in the end. Are you suggesting LH should have pitted on lap 41 but took on softs and expected to be able to fight for the win in the end on such old tires? Or pit another time for new softs just as NR did, in which case aren’t they both going to be coming from way behind DR and FA, like NR did? I don’t see how either driver were a shoe in for the win either way.

  17. mike peever said on 27th July 2014, 18:03

    strategy point,…. well this is what you have when you only have one guy doing strategy for the whole team it should be like mclarun have one for each driver that way both sides win and best of all Mercedes have the strongest team

  18. Neil (@neilosjames) said on 27th July 2014, 18:09

    Definitely not. You don’t use team orders if they’re both going to be fighting for the same piece of track at the end of the race… absurd they even considered it.

  19. Fair play Mercedes that it will happen now, already is broke the gearbox twice, brake disc, is fire car, always a second more slow in the pit stop, missing front axle break or perhaps forget to load enough fuel in the car of Hamilton. Luckily is the best and even if you start from boxes arriving at points. For that it brought a world champion Mr Wolff? I hope that the policy has nothing to do with that does not exit the safety car at Hockenheimring when there is a car in the middle of the main straight. fair play fair play mercedes

  20. Maxim (@makelax) said on 27th July 2014, 18:09

    My voice is that Mercedes should have ordered Hamilton to let Rosberg past, but Lewis was absolutely right in ignoring it

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 27th July 2014, 19:11

      Agreed. And I think had they waited just a few more laps they would have seen that in fact NR was not right on LH’s gearbox, so couldn’t reasonably have asked LH to literaly slow to let NR catch up and past, so wouldn’t have even issued the order.

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