Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Hockenheimring, 2014

Should Mercedes have used team orders on Hamilton?

2014 Hungarian Grand PrixPosted on Author Keith Collantine

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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Image © Daimler/Hoch Zwei

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

    1. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. I’m my opinion, it shouldn’t have been an order. It should have been a comment along the lines of:

    “If Nico closes up, don’t hold him up.”

    As it was, Nico wasn’t able to close up successfully, so Lewis had every right to stand his ground.
    Had Nico been that bit faster and threatening a fight at that point, then I think letting him through would be justified.

    1. I’m sure the mercs were running different aero trim – Hamilton’s might have been radically different – they knew he needed to overtake at all costs when they rebuilt the car.
      Rosberg had what he qualified on pole with – overtaking not required.

  5. Mercedes were within their rights to make the request. However, Lewis was perfectly entitled to ignore it.

    The maths that Ted Kravitz did after the race suggested that Nico could have been fighting for 2nd and almost certainly 3rd. Had Lewis allowed him through, he would have lost ground in the driver’s championship but Mercedes would have gained more in the Constructor’s.

    Lewis was completely right to ignore the order. He needs every point he can get to beat Rosberg in the WDC. Mercedes should get the WCC comfortably without orders.

  6. The concept of asking a driver to move over to allow a strategy to work isn’t a bad thing.

    Nico wasn’t close enough for the request to have come in when it did though.

  7. “Slightly agree” – the guy on softer or newer tyres should be allowed through to get on with it, or there’s no point having strategies at all – but the geeky voice from the pitwall shouldn’t be telling a driver when and where to do it, and it sounds like Nico wasn’t all over the back of him.

  8. They shouldn’t ordered him to let rosberg past for the same reason last year in malaysia red bull shouldn’t told vettel to stay behind webber.
    Anyone who has a different view on those two subjects in a hypocrite.

  9. Why the hell should Hamilton let Rosberg through? Another point nobody as made is how dark the skies, it definitely looked liked it could rain. If there was a downpour Hamilton would have been shafted.

    Mercedes cost Hamilton a shot at the win, he mentioned on the radio that the tyres wouldn’t last, why they didn’t pit him first for Softs I’ll never know!

  10. Mercedes are all at sea with their thinking. Obviously Lewis wanted every car possible to be between him and Nico! And vice-versa.

    Now they’ve alienated Lewis and have that to repair, on top of Niki’s idiot talk about wanting Vettel.

    1. If anything this incident gave Nico the upper hand, he can do the same next time and nobody would blame him.

      And that wasn’t an order, it was a recommendation he chose to ignore. Nobody is making a big deal out of this except the press and some hotheads. At least the press are doing it for money. :)

      1. It was a flat instruction to let him by. It gives Rosberg nothing, because the time for TO is long gone – the wcc isn’t at stake any more. They’ll think about it now and there won’t be any more team orders this season. As to it being a big deal – why are you posting about it? :)

    2. @lockup fyi Lauda is Ham’s biggest fan he said yday in qually he was gutted they went for tea last night and Lauda said Ham was perfectly right to keep pos. If they are sabotaging him it is a mechanic, Lauda i think is the one person along with Lowe who have no alleigance, but no one can deny Wolff would rather have Nico win the WC, i think that is obvious.

      1. @Dan yeah I don’t think there is bias, myself, from Toto either. I’m guessing it was just their single team strategist being zoned in on the team result with tunnel vision, not thinking about the driver side of things at all.

        I wouldn’t be surprised if over the break they switch to separate strategists for each side of the garage. Hope so, anyway.

  11. There was absolutely no reason why he should have let Rosberg through.
    Hamilton did say that Nico should come up closer, so he was prepared to let him through, and he never was that close, but once Nico pitted, the circumstances were no longer the same and it should have been a fair fight to the end.
    Hamilton was even very accommodating and now after the race, I am starting to believe that Hamilton’s issues were beyond just bad luck, as he was quoted as saying.
    I smell something very odious here.
    Well done Hamilton, no matter what they may be up to, you have clearly demonstrated you are a better driver and getting results purely from your skill and determination, while Nico is more and more depending on outside factors and powers of manupilation. in fact, its starting to look desparate

  12. I strongly disagree not because of a moralistic sportsmanship, which I usually rely on anyhow, but this time especially because Rosberg wasn’t clearly faster, was going to have to pit again anyhow and had nowhere to go further ahead. Also, why would you impose team orders possibly affecting the championship outcome when the standings say everything is still possible within the two, such that three points are crucial right now? Team orders imposed early on such as Germany 2010 or Austria 2002 are useless and cruel.

    1. I think they simply thought that at that stage LH should have been holding NR up, but within a few laps they all soon realized NR did not have the pace such that he would have been held up. It seemed once he was within a second of LH he could never get on LH’s gearbox and that was probably something they didn’t expect. They probably thought it was going to be more like it was for NR in his last stint…hauling LH in by the boatload. Bottom line, if at the time of the order NR was hauling LH in rapidly, and riding his gearbox, do you think it would have been fair to have LH hold him back? Knowing NR had another stop to make?

  13. I just couldn’t believe that Mercedes were making the call and I’m yet to find out who did that. That was one of those calls that belong to the “Lewis, Nico is faster than you”.
    No way Lewis should have fallen into that trap. He owes nothing to Mercedes who need to think much more wisely because they bet on the wrong horse and their PR is a disaster.
    On top of that Mercedes have made a series or professional errors on Lewis’ car, they clearly advantage Nico during the pitstops.

    They really need to give Lewis a break if I may say.

  14. I went slightly disagree. That’s because at the time there was a little bit of merit in the idea. Given what we know now, of course they shouldn’t have given the order. But at the time, the idea that Rosberg would catch back up was ludicrous, although only really because they waved off Hamilton’s correct instinct that the tyres wouldn’t hold together. Given what Mercedes though they knew, it was entirely sensible that Hamilton didn’t hold Rosberg up much, and in that sense the order had some merit. However, it should have only ever been a case of letting him through if all he needed was a slight lift. Rosberg never got anywhere near Hamilton so that could happen. At his closest, Hamilton would have still lost a lot of time in what was a tight race against the others. He was being directly asked to lose a couple of seconds to those he was racing, and to do that to help his only championship rival. This at a time when both the drivers and constructors titles are assured for Mercedes anyway. That is foolish.

    1. Scratch that actually. The more I think about it the more idiotic it seems. I still see where they were coming from (of course they got the strategy wrong for Hamilton in the first place, as Hamilton being on the slower tyre which was always unlikely to hold up- as recognised by Hamilton himself- made little sense), but there wasn’t enough merit and it was too poorly handled to be anything other than a ‘strongly disagree’.

      (although I still don’t quite understand how the question is posed- how can I agree or disagree with a question rather than a statement?)

  15. If Nico had been all over the gearbox of Lewis then it would be case for team orders. However, given that at the closest point he was at least 6 tenths away at best and not losing laptime then the oders seem a little odd. If one car had the clear advantage and was gunning for the title then yes, move him aside but both are fighting.

    This is one of the things that really is annoying me about F1 this season, the moaning and the inter team orders. For all extent and purposes if you can’t pass them under your own steam then you shouldn’t be allowed to be in front because clearly you aren’t the faster car.

  16. There are no team orders at Mercedes, just team recommendations. If it was an order, it would have carried a penalty. Drivers are free to follow or disregard them as they see fit.

    I can understand both the team’s POV and the driver POV. From the team POV, when a driver hurts a team points tally for his own interest he should be made to pay the team for at least half the points he squandered. What’s a F1 championship point worth these days? Can a driver afford to pay half of it? :)

    From the driver POV it’s easy. As long as you keep your drive and don’t break you contract or get penalised by the marshalls, you can do pretty much anything. Nice guy or winner – is there a choice here?

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