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. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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”.

  5. 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.

  6. Yoshitsune (@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.

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. SennaNmbr1 (@sennanmbr1) said on 27th July 2014, 18:10

    Team orders were used and Lewis ignored them. I don’t think saying “that is a team order…” after it would have made any difference.

  12. PeterG said on 27th July 2014, 18:15

    They showed the lap chart on Sky & Nico had been catching Lewis at just under 1 second a lap. When he caught Lewis & got into the dirty air his lap times dropped off by nearly a second.

    To be honest Im not sure the team really expected Nico to be as fast as he was later in the race, Afterall others had put on the soft’s in the laps prior (Raikkonen for instance) & not found 2-3 seconds advantage on them as Nico ended up doing.

    They worked through the lap times on Sky & believe that had Lewis let Nico past with the pace Nico had at the end he’d have finished 2nd with a shot at the win depending on how quickly he was able to pass cars.

    • PeterG said on 27th July 2014, 18:20

      I also think that Mercedes were expecting Lewis to catch & pass Alonso pretty quickly given how old Alonso’s tyres were & how quickly he had been catching him at that point & I don’t think they necessarily expected Lewis’s tyres to drop off as much as they did in the closing laps.

      I think they pushed for Lewis to let Nico past believing that Lewis woudl pass Alonso & take the lead when Daniel pitted & wanted Nico to be given the opportunity to gain as much time as possible before his stop to try & get both cars on the podium.

  13. craig-o (@craig-o) said on 27th July 2014, 18:15

    If Rosberg was closer, yes.

    As he couldn’t catch up, no.

  14. Breno (@austus) said on 27th July 2014, 18:20

    IIRC Rosberg closed the gap pretty well, so Mercedes must have assumed Hamilton would just hold him up. In hindsight, Rosberg barely got close to Hamilton.

  15. Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 27th July 2014, 18:24

    There is the argument that Rosberg lost time, which makes sense, but realistically it didn’t cost him the 10s that was claimed, and Hamilton was in contention to overtake Alonso at that stage. So no is the short answer, sticking with my general dislike for team orders.

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