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. bull mello (@bullmello) said on 27th July 2014, 17:11

    No, not in this case. Rosberg was never close enough to pass. It was enough to tell Lewis not to hold up Nico. He didn’t.

    Mercedes has only come to be under such over-analysis by having a superior package of a race car, two world class drivers with near equal talents and letting them race with very few restrictions. No team is perfect, whether looking at a season, any race or any split second decision made at any moment in the heat of the battle. It’s tough to make the right call in a fraction of a second or then have it analyzed for years. I suspect many teams wish they had Mercedes’ problems.

  2. JackySteeg (@jackysteeg) said on 27th July 2014, 17:12

    Absolutely not. If Hamilton had let Rosberg through, then Rosberg would’ve been easily able to beat him by the end of the race, assuming Mercedes would let them race to the end. It would’ve been grossly unfair to Hamilton to expect him to help Nico to be in a stronger position than himself.

    I’d only say it were acceptable if Mercedes was in the think of a championship battle in the constructors’ championship and needed to maximise their points total. As they aren’t, then I say no, Mercedes shouldn’t have issued team orders and Lewis was absolutely right to ignore them.

    • zvoni said on 27th July 2014, 18:43

      I have to say I honestly expected more from Mercedes team. It begins getting disgusting how much they favor Nico. After Lewis leading (sic!) 4-1 in terms of equipment failure botched up races they still have the nerve to ask him to move away!!! And that little snaky prat: I wanted a fair fight with Lewis! I didn’t ask the team for Lewis to move over! And yes, I am asking for the team meeting over team orders!

      • Michael (@freelittlebirds) said on 27th July 2014, 19:00

        +1

        I don’t understand Mercedes – They say they want to help Lewis but then they go and ask him to throw away a potential victory at the time or even 6 pts that could decide the championship at the end. This is the last race before the summer break – Nico is in shambles and hopefully that will affect his next race as it should. It would have been very different if Nico was P2 and Lewis P4… (9 point difference)

  3. Mike Dee (@mike-dee) said on 27th July 2014, 17:13

    As always: no team orders unless there are very specific circumstances. But as shown, Rosberg was actually racing Hamilton at the end, so a team order would have been unfair. From purely a constructors’ points point of view, it might have made sense (possibly Rosberg-Hamilton could have finished 2-3 instead of 3-4) but that boat has long sailed anyway.

  4. petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 27th July 2014, 17:15

    Whatever Mercedes thought, Lewis was clearly right to ignore them. If he had let Rosberg past, Rosberg would have caught him earlier towards the end and would have likely passed him.

    The constructors is done now. Mercedes have won it… That means we’re left with a title fight between Hamilton and Rosberg so why the hell would Hamilton do something to help Rosberg!? Nico would have done exactly the same.

  5. ginnerchris (@ginnerchris) said on 27th July 2014, 17:17

    When he was cruising up behind him, he should have been told (as he was) not to hold him up (and crucially not to lose time himself defending). The fact Rosberg didn’t (or couldn’t) get into an overtaking position at any point, for me, means he lost the right to demand to get past. Mercedes should have been focused on getting Lewis past Alonso at that point knowing that he was aiming to go to the end.

  6. 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.

  7. 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 !

  8. 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?

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

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

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

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