How can Mercedes defuse the Hamilton-Rosberg row?

2014 F1 season

Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2014The on- and off-track events at Spa-Francorchamps have left Mercedes with a external public relations nightmare and an internal diplomatic crisis.

Relations between their championship-contending drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton hit a new low after the pair made contact in the Belgian Grand Prix. If this is allowed to go unchecked, it could open the door for one of their rivals to beat them to the championship.

Such as Daniel Ricciardo, who has now beaten them to victory in half of the last six races. The surprising performance of the Red Bull in Spa-Francorchamps was a further indication they are narrowing the gap to Mercedes and may be a greater threat on tracks which suit them even better.

Mercedes have the reassurance of a comfortable points lead but no team will tolerate their drivers costing them points, as happened to them in the last two races. By hitting Hamilton at Les Combes Rosberg cost the team a likely 25 points, and before that in Hungary Hamilton’s refusal to obey an order to let Rosberg through may have cost them as many as 10 points.

Following the Hungaroring incident Rosberg complained that “Lewis didn’t let me by, although he was ordered to do so” while Hamilton pointed out that “if I’d let him past when they asked me he would have beat me”. This left Mercedes’ management to plot a narrow course between justifying their tactics and not coming down too hard on either driver.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Hungaroring, 2014They eventually did so by saying Rosberg “never got close enough to Lewis to make the move” – although there had been no indication at the time Hamilton’s order was conditional on how close Rosberg was – and they were “ultimately comfortable with the decision Lewis made to hold position”.

It’s not difficult to imagine this might have rankled with Rosberg. Hamilton later noted that in a team meeting last Thursday it was clear Rosberg was still unhappy about the Hungary affair.

Mercedes find themselves having to walk an even thinner line following the events of Spa. One on hand, Rosberg has clearly broken one the inviolable law which exists within any team, that you do not crash into the other car. On the other, they need to address Hamilton’s eye-raising claim on Sunday that Rosberg caused the crash deliberately to make a point.

Fortunately for Mercedes the FIA continues to show no appetite for getting involved. Wolff quickly played down Hamilton’s claim on Sunday, and the FIA has since made it clear that in a case of Wolff’s word against Hamilton’s they believe the team manager. Recall also that following Rosberg’s accidential-but-beneficial error at Mirabeau, Hamilton remarked he had seen something revealing in Rosberg’s data.

But while the FIA’s indifference is a relief for Mercedes, soothing the tensions between their drivers will still take a tremendous amount of skill. The problem is they are limited in how far they can go to impose order on their two drivers. Once the cars are out on track the pit wall can shout and scream as much as they went but if Rosberg and Hamilton want to duke it out, it’s going to happen.

Although Rosberg’s error cost Hamilton more dearly in Belgium, were Mercedes to take any direct action against him it would surely be seen as a step too far. Forcing him into a number two role for the next race, limiting the performance of his car somehow or even substituting him for another driver – all these would be unprecedented in this context.

More realistically, Mercedes could act to limit the scope for aggression between their drivers during the races, at least until the constructors’ championship is decided and both are out of reach in the drivers’ championship.

An obvious approach would be to institute a ‘no overtaking after the first corner’ rule, as other teams have done in the past. This might be interpreted by some as favouring Rosberg over Hamilton, who has not been on pole position since the Spanish Grand Prix in May, but realistically he has as much chance of getting pole for the remaining seven races as his team mate does.

When Ross Brawn left Mercedes last year he said he had put everything in place for the team to cope without him. The next ten days will reveal whether the new leadership has got what it takes.

Over to you

How should Mercedes respond to the fall-out at Spa? Is it time to limit the racing between the two drivers? What should Wolff tell Hamilton and Rosberg? Have your say in the comments.

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282 comments on How can Mercedes defuse the Hamilton-Rosberg row?

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  1. lawrence said on 27th August 2014, 12:28

    I actually think that there’s no need to do anything anymore. Now Lewis knows that he can’t push or cut off like that to close the doors any more, and they won’t be clashing again. He will simply leave more margin and all will be fine. Rosberg just needed to establish an equal footing by showing to Hamilton, that if he drives against others like that, others will drive against him like that.
    If Hamilton keeps doing the same thing, he will be the only one who learned nothing from all of this.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th August 2014, 12:34

      Now Lewis knows that he can’t push or cut off like that to close the doors any more

      This presumes Hamilton did something wrong, which he didn’t. He was ahead, he was on the racing line, and he was not required to deviate from it to make way for Rosberg.

      • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 27th August 2014, 12:41

        But presumably the ‘point’ that Rosberg was making was this – If I go to pass you, I’m not going to yield. You yield and move out of my way, or we can have a crash. I’m ahead in the championship, and if we both crash out, it’s you that loses out. So don’t get in my way.

        I think that’s the message he was trying to send, and rightly or wrongly, it’s a message I think Hamilton will likely be heedful of in the future. Next time they go wheel to wheel in a corner, Hamilton will naturally give Rosberg more room, knowing that otherwise it could end in tears.

        • MaroonJack (@maroonjack) said on 27th August 2014, 13:10

          If that’s the case “the point” should be addressed by the stewards with “if you deliberately crash into people who don’t move out of your way, then you will get a penalty”.

          The message most people received from Rosberg was slightly different. For me it was: “I’m willing to cheat, to get what I want”. And it’s not the first time he’s sending this message either.

          • Colossal Squid (@colossal-squid) said on 27th August 2014, 14:20

            When was the first time he sent this message? Or are you assuming guilt with no definitive proof?

          • Michael (@freelittlebirds) said on 27th August 2014, 16:50

            @maroonjack +1

          • Steve Freegard (@smfreegard) said on 28th August 2014, 10:46

            The message most people received from Rosberg was slightly different. For me it was: “I’m willing to cheat, to get what I want”. And it’s not the first time he’s sending this message either.

            Indeed; I thought cutting the chicane in Montreal and then burying the throttle and setting the fastest lap after being pressured by HAM into a mistake and then ‘giving up his lasting advantage’ at a point on the racetrack when he knew that HAM wouldn’t be able to capitalise on it was a good example of this.

            Then there’s the question of Monaco – which I thought was simply a mistake by ROS at the time – but I’m not really sure about that now.

            Here’s what I would do if I were Mercedes:

            They will be allowed to continue to race each other – however if either ROS or HAM ignore team orders or have any contact then they will lose their ‘team benefits’ for the next race:

            – They will not allowed to see other drivers data or set-up and the race engineer is not allowed to provide that data over the radio (e.g. deltas to team mate or suggest engine modes for attack/defence, it should be down to the driver with the engineer only making sure that he doesn’t run out of fuel).

            – The other driver is given preference for qualifying strategy.

            – The other driver is given pit stop preference and a chance to undercut in pit provided this does not compromise the overall team result.

            – The other driver is given preference in overall strategy provided this does not compromise the overall team result.

            I would also make it clear that the team will only order one driver to let the other past if the following driver is demonstrably quicker on their current tyres and it is the responsibility of the following driver to catch up to the lead driver and be on their gearbox (e.g. within 0.2-0.3 sec) before the other driver is to facilitate the switch in order to minimise the cost of the order.

            Obviously a couple of those points will have to walk a fine line as determined by the team because ultimately they need the best result overall, but this would seem to be the only way to put in place some controls that actually mean something to the drivers for their fight in the championship.

        • Toxic (@toxic) said on 27th August 2014, 13:12

          Agree with that. It doesn’t matter if Hamilton did something wrong or not. From now on Hamilton knows that it’s not going to be his way every time. If after Spa incident Hamilton will have at least some hesitation in wheel to wheel scenarios, then Rosberg indeed made his point.

          • JCost (@jcost) said on 27th August 2014, 14:28

            @toxic and Rosberg will not change his approach?

            Interesting. I’d say FIA will not tolerate another “prove a point” move from Nico after failing to investigate an incident fans, some pundits and some drivers thought was worth a penalty.

          • Joshy Hamilton said on 27th August 2014, 15:10

            So Rosberg is permitted to use ‘bully boy tactics’ to gain ground even when he’s out of position! Utterly mad! Rosberg simply isn’t Hamilton’s equal when it comes to wheel to wheel racing. The red mist descended when Hamilton took him at the start, he had no chance of overtaking Hamilton, who was ahead and on the racing line. In Italy drivers flash their lights when they’re coming through, perhaps Rosberg should lobby for the same when he nears Hamilton’s rear!

          • Toxic (@toxic) said on 28th August 2014, 5:17

            @jcost I don’t say that FIA will do nothing if he really crosses the line. Maybe next time he will be punished but it all depends on the kind of incident. Maybe there will be none, will see.
            We actually don’t know if SPA will have any effect on Hamilton but I just wanted to say that it may have some as now he knows that Rosberg became quite unpredictable.
            Personally I don’t support any of them so it may push championship battle towards Ricciardo which would be great.

          • DM0407 (@dm0407) said on 28th August 2014, 16:46

            I don’t think the FIA should get involved. This is a team issue. You hired the drivers, you brought the cars.Figure it out.

            If there is another blatant issue than I think Nico should be forced to sit a race and give Hamilton the chance to claw back the points that were taken from him. Unless Vettel’s form changes over the next 7 races I can’t see RRB stealing the constructors championship regardless of who drives the Mercedes.

            The FIA should be penalizing dangerous drivers and inter-team issues only.

        • tgu (@thegrapeunwashed) said on 27th August 2014, 13:20

          Except of course that they weren’t wheel-to-wheel: Rosberg’s front wing clipped Hamilton’s rear wheel. It’s not like Hamilton edged Rosberg off track (as in Hungary), he simply took the normal racing line.

          • You guys are out to lunch on that “Nico’s proving a point, don’t push me around, and LW will learn his lesson”. That’s baloney crap! You no nothing of competitive driver mentality.
            If one driver tries to intimidate another driver to move or were gonna crash, then the weenie driver who moves over because the bad guy behind him scared him … well he may as well give up driving because he will forever be a panzi on the track. And Lewis may be a lot of things, but he’s no panzi.

          • reg (@reg) said on 28th August 2014, 7:21

            I think that exactly the thing for Nico, he has always been the one to back out of a move. I fully agree that the move he tried wouldn’t have succeeded and it was the wrong time to try and show some like-minded ruthlessness to Hamilton if he thought was really necessary. Here’s a comment (with a touch of context, original comment was trying to compare it to Red Bull Turkey 2010) I made to another back in April after Bahrain that has rung true for me:

            Hamilfan (@hamilfan) said on 8th April 2014, 17:25

            That is because one of their drivers miscalculated and clipped the front wing off the other . Nico and Lewis are another level. I admit Lewis pushes it right to the very edge sometimes but still as long as the carbon fiber stays on the car , it’s massive fun. That’s what racing should be about .
            Avatar Image

            reg (@reg) said on 8th April 2014, 21:15

            Lewis to me pushes past the edge and is willing to leave it up to the other driver whether they have contact. If it were two Lewis clones and not Nico/Lewis racing this past Sunday, it would have been tears for one or both.

            If Mercedes don’t get them under control, it will be Massa/Hamilton 2011 the rest of the season, I fear and then Red Bull won’t even need Abu Double to get Daniel to the front.

      • t3x (@t3x) said on 27th August 2014, 22:50

        @keithcollantine Hamilton did not do anything wrong this time, that was just a racing accident. But in the last couple of races (i don’t remember which, Germany and Barhain i think) he was too aggressive with Nico even pushing him out in Germany at the end which was clearly too much.
        Nico is simply saying now, push me out and i won’t move. That is his point for the rest of the season. I think Nico saying he made a point this time is a bit silly, but he is saying from now on don’t try and push me.

      • greg-c (@greg-c) said on 28th August 2014, 3:43

        When I look at the video replay , I see Rosberg alongside (dont care how much , just saying,)
        then I see Rosberg yield ? that’s what I see, Rosberg yields, and tags the sister merc of Hamilton ,

        all this nonsense about Nico not yielding ? the video to me show’s Nico yield , and then make a ham sandwich by tagging Lewis, Nico stuffed it up , imagine if both Mercs retired ?

        Holy batmans black tights , there would be a lynching at Merc HQ

        Is there any chance Nico is milking this for all its worth because he saw how upset it got Lewis?

        I think so.

      • @keithcollantine, yes, in fact, neither Ham nor Nico did something wrong in Spa.

    • Adam Hardwick (@fluxsource) said on 27th August 2014, 12:34

      I think you’ve misunderstood what happened. Lewis perfectly legally took the correct line. Nico either make a clumsy mistake, or deliberately caused an accident. If you believe the former then Lewis doesn’t really need to change anything. If you believe the latter, then Nico doesn’t have a place in F1.

    • paulcook (@paulcook) said on 27th August 2014, 12:39

      Really? Did you not read and listen to every comment by commentators, and both team bosses that Nico was in the wrong and Hamilton took the correct line into the corner? So the net result is that you expect Hamilton to allow a cars width into every corner if Nico is behind him, just in case Nico does something stupid again.

      • James said on 27th August 2014, 13:01

        I think what Nico has done is perfectly acceptable risk from his point of view, he’s now made the point to Hamilton that he has a lead and can afford to take risks and Hamilton has more to lose, I think after Bahrain Rosberg felt he had saved the team a possible 45 points after Hamilton’s questionable defending, so he may feel that he doesn’t want to be the driver to back out when things get messy. Hamilton needs to realise he isn’t racing against the same driver he was in Bahrain, Nico now has the upper hand in both results and mentally seems the stronger driver.

        • tgu (@thegrapeunwashed) said on 27th August 2014, 13:32

          Hamilton has skirted very close to the line of acceptable behaviour at several races – it’s what great racing drivers do, it’s what makes for great races.

          You can’t compare Bahrain to Spa, Rosberg did something which only a rookie driver would attempt: how many times has Martin Brundle made the point that you don’t leave your nose inside another car as it takes its line unless you want it chopped off? Experienced drivers don’t do that and don’t expect that from other experienced drivers; Hamilton is many things, but he is not a mind reader, how could he have predicted something so crass?

          Rosberg might indeed be a hopeless driver, but my guess is that he’s a cynic who calculated that Hamilton would come off far worse from such a stupid move than he would himself. If the championship is decided by this move it will be a disgrace.

          • Although I should add, despite the very clear message from Rosberg I doubt Hamilton is smart enough to change anything.

            Let’s face it, he has more accidents to his name than any other driver on the grid and still continues to drive like it’s dodgem cars. How many people did he bounce off in Germany?

        • Are we talking about the same Bahrain where Rosebud cheated by turning his engine power up above the max level ordered by the team. Rosebuds cheating caused LH to defend that way. If Rosebud wasn’t such a cheat we’d have a much different WDC standing.

        • DeVante said on 27th August 2014, 19:23

          You people trying to defend Rosberg you know that he’s cheating. Otherwise you could simple tell that he just need to be in front of Hamilton, or, with other words, faster than Lewis. You don’t think so because you know that he’s slower than Lewis so he need to cheat (or “make a point”)…

    • So you think by being completely out of order, as defined even by the team, Hamilton is the one who must learn? The anti-Hamilton lobby’s blinkers really do get bigger by the race.

    • Alex Brown (@splittimes) said on 27th August 2014, 12:59

      I understand, and its mirrored in Hamilton’s comments about ‘you need to be able to trust who you’re racing against’ [paraphrased]. It looks like Rosberg’s move has got into his head, and next time Lewis might not be as firm to take his line. Though the rules don’t require him to change his driving, logic does: if he’d let Nico have that bit of track, he’d still have been in the race at the next corner. Personally, I hope he doesn’t change, as long as they both get past Ascari (that’s where I’ll be sat!).

      • Well said sir!

        The regulations say that Hamilton didn’t do anything wrong, but common sense says he did!

        All this bitching and moaning about terrible Rosberg and poor hard done by Hamilton are irrelevant.

        As I always used to say when an opposing team was bitching and moaning at us about the end result and how it wasn’t fair because of this and that – “Look at the scoreboard”.

        • Shanghai John said on 28th August 2014, 10:33

          I take your comment to mean cheating, playing dirty and bending the rules is ok as long as you win? Nice!

          As for common sense? Hamilton was on the racing line with Rosberg half a car behind when Rosberg made contact. Making that out to somehow be Hamiltons mistake takes some truly convoluted logic and not “common sense”.

        • DaveD (@daved) said on 28th August 2014, 20:04

          Bob, you continuously excuse what Nico did when everybody in the sport, every commentator, every driver, even the Merc bosses were saying Nico’s actions were completely wrong.

          I’m glad I don’t have to work with you or deal with you in my life because you clearly feel the “ends justify the means’ is all that matters.

    • Now Lewis knows that he can’t push or cut off like that to close the doors any more, and they won’t be clashing again.

      In Monaco a few years ago Lewis tried to overtake Maldanado, Maldanado then turned in a bit earlier in Lewis’ opinion, and hit Lewis. Did this stop Lewis from racing hard, Nope. The next year Maldanado again collided with Lewis in Valencia, this did stop Lewis from racing hard, Nope. Lewis has made his name for being a very good overtaker and defensive driver and one incident won’t make him change his style. Like he said in Bahrain, and in the Nurburgring a few years ago, “you’re not going to overtake me around the outside”

      • lawrence said on 27th August 2014, 15:42

        That just shows Lewis is incapable of learning anything. Only time he won a title was in 2008, when his only rival was similarly hopeless Massa. Those two made so many mistakes, it was a disgrace to call either one a champion. He messed up his 2010 campaign in much the same way.
        If he wants to win it this year, he’ll have to up his game.

        • Nobody wants boring racing. The whole reason we’re all still talking about Lewis on Wednesday is because love him or hate him he makes F1 more exciting. I’m sure if it was someone else involved it would all have been forgotten by now.

      • cjpdk (@cjpdk) said on 27th August 2014, 16:34

        @manu Lewis isn’t going to stop racing hard, but I think that the purpose of Nico’s move was to prove to Lewis that he can’t easily intimidate him. Granted, Nico didn’t do it in a particularly good way, but it still sent an important psychological message to Lewis.

      • I don’t like the way Lewis defends, barely legal. I prefer fair moves, if you aren’t fast enough to hold a position don’t block the whole track, not like moving away neither agressively blocking the move of other drivers. Also i find more satisfying to see a position well fought side to side on a clean maneuver.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 27th August 2014, 14:23

      Actually the only thing changing if Hamilton is more wary to defend from Rosberg now, or while attacking, is that Rosberg would have an easier job. But I doubt Hamilton will really be that more wary and another accident it more likely than not to happen, although maybe we can take the case of Vettel and Webber to prove it doesn’t have to be like that.
      Although after Turkey 2010 the team seemed very reluctant to ever get them near each other in several races, using very differing strategies that often did hurt the one not leading, but when it came to an on track fight, these guys were careful enough to leave just enough room not to crash

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 27th August 2014, 14:23

      I think the next time Nico hit another rear tyre resulting in significant harm to someone’s race he will get a severe penalty.

    • Michael (@freelittlebirds) said on 27th August 2014, 14:34

      I think you guys need to watch a sport called F1 – Rosberg runs people off like crazy. He’s run Hamilton off several times costing him positions. The issue is not with Hamilton – it’s with Rosberg’s inability to pass.

      Like thousands have said, Rosberg is an excellent driver and a poor racer. Even if he makes a decent pass out of 50 you can’t count it because he missed the other 49…

      • ShoponF (@shoponf) said on 27th August 2014, 16:08

        @freelittlebirds: I agree with you, Rosberg can not overtake and Mercedes knows this. That’s why Mercedes don’t tell NR to overtake LH. By not doing so, Mercedes is creating unnecessary controversies. When Vettel refused to give way to Ricciardo in China Red Bull just told Ricciardo “OK close up to him and overtake him”.

        • Thomas A (@gremlinwon) said on 27th August 2014, 18:26

          Rosberg wouldn’t be in F1 if you couldn’t overtake. Look at Hamilton at the German Grand Prix, how many people did he hit? i think it was 4 or more? Rosberg made one mistake which ended up ruining a good battle. Dont say he cant overtake, Hamilton can overtake but not always clean.
          And for those complaing Rosberg shoves people off the track all the time, open your eyes please, its racing your not going to willingly let someone past you. Look at Magnusen (think thats how you spell it) he did it to his team mate and Alonso! it got reviewed but there isnt a rule for pushing your cars wheel to wheel on the edge. What do you watch Racing for? to see great drivers battle or to watch them use DRS in a straight line to overtake, no brainer if you ask me.

          • Timorous said on 28th August 2014, 10:34

            Hi hit 2. First was Kimi when they went 3 wide into the hairpin with Perez just infront on the outside forcing Ricciardo tight into Kimi which left Hamilton with very little room It was a light contact and later in the race Vettel also hit Kimi when overtaking with a larger contact. The second was Button when it appeared he was leaving the door open and Hamilton took the inside line only for Button to take the late apex. Button even admitted on twitter after watching a replay of the incident that he could see why Hamilton thought the door was being left open.

    • DMC (@dmc) said on 27th August 2014, 18:31

      Agreed, I have heard Hamilton say at least a couple of times
      in previous races “there is no way he was getting past”.

    • Eddie (@wackyracer) said on 27th August 2014, 21:16

      That’s bullying dude, I don’t think Lewis or Mercedes would allow that kind of bullying…

    • Dennis the menace (@) said on 28th August 2014, 3:03

      I agree with your point although the entire thing has been blown out of proportion simply by Lewis’s constant whining to his team and the media. The front wing hitting a rear tyre and causing a puncture (or sometimes not) is as common as dogs ….. in F1. It rarely ever cops a penalty. It is just Hamilton and Hamilton supporters who are outraged but this is just sentiment and not point of fact. What would be an interesting study is to look back over Hamilton’s F1 career and calculate how many times he has run other drivers off or used aggressive tactics which far exceeded Nico’s little attempt to pass at Spa. If Mercedes were actually genuinely concerned about Ricciardo catching them then the logical thing to do is make it clear to Hamilton that he is the number 2 driver. Wouldn’t we see the dummy fly, the feet stamp and tears come forth from Lewis then.

    • deji (@ekomi) said on 28th August 2014, 22:10

      Fastest cars fastest drivers not a bad place to be. Merc won’t risk team orders because they might be disobeyed and that would make them look silly. The slyest thing they can do is to mix up the strategies so both drivers focus more on their own strategy for the race and less on their team mate until the closing stages of the race. Either way these two are going to have another major coming together and I hope they aren’t hurt…

  2. Richard said on 27th August 2014, 12:29

    Imagine you’re Hamilton and you’re told you can’t overtake your teammate despite what’s happened to you not just in Belgium but over the whole season. He won’t do it. More to the point, Mercedes leadership has taken a massive battering in the media so they will want to give more than a “slap on the wrists” to Nico as Toto himself put it. So then they either have to do nothing, or they do something quite drastic like give Rosberg a 1 or 2 race ban for deliberately violating team policy by trying “to make a point” and causing the collision.

  3. Chris (@cgturbo) said on 27th August 2014, 12:30

    Though it doesn’t seem at all likely any more, I would like to see Nico be replaced for one race (as a sort of internal ‘punishment’), purely on the basis that I’d like to see how someone else would fair in the Mercedes.

    • I hope they stick with Nico, as I’m going to Monza next week and can’t wait to watch this soap opera carry on!

    • schooner (@schooner) said on 27th August 2014, 16:29

      Sitting out a race is really the only punishment I can think of that would actually carry any weight with a very highly paid driver. I presume what Rosberg is going to get is a stern talking to.

    • IamSleepyWill said on 27th August 2014, 22:20

      Expanding on this quite a lot, I would like to see drivers completely divorced from the team. I would like to see a situation where over the course of a season, every driver sits in every team twice. I’m sure each and every one of you could pick this idea to pieces, I probably could myself, but it’s what I would like to see!

    • Breno (@austus) said on 28th August 2014, 0:08

      If they ban Rosberg from races to hand Hamilton the championship, I’d like to see the Mercedes heads banned like Briatore.

      • Bazooka said on 28th August 2014, 5:14

        +1

      • nmsi (@nmsi) said on 28th August 2014, 8:17

        Well if one puts himself above the team and costs team 25 points then the guys who hand out checks can and will do something about it. If it was a simple racing incident all would be well but if Rosberg really admitted that he was proving a point and by that broke the ONLY rule given to them then i guess sitting out one race would seem appropriate.

        • alexx_88 (@alexx_88) said on 28th August 2014, 10:23

          The same one backed off two situations where the result would’ve been even worse: Bahrain and Hungary. You can’t lay blame solely on him for the whole situation this year.

          • Timorous said on 28th August 2014, 10:37

            Rosberg backed off because he was not in a position to dictate the racing line. Just like Hamilton backed off at T1 in Canada because he was not in position to dictate the racing line.

  4. Since the problem started in Bahrain when Hamilton used higher engine setting than agreed, he is as guilty as Rosberg in this crisis. Therefore, as you suggested Keith, whoever gets pole wins (even if he loses the position at the start. This would prevent fighting over the first corner and allow the second car to protect the first one from any threat from behind.

    The only real competition between Hamilton and Rosberg would then be limited to qualifying.
    To make it even fairer, let there be no data sharing for Saturday practice and qualifying.

    Over to the F1 fanatics :)

    • ADD (@addimaf1) said on 27th August 2014, 12:36

      Rosberg used the higher engine settings in Bahrain. Hamilton did in Spain.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th August 2014, 12:36

      Since the problem started in Bahrain when Hamilton used higher engine setting than agreed

      It was Rosberg who used the unauthorised engine setting in Bahrain, Hamilton did in Spain.

      • According to a new report from the german version of Autosport, Totto Wolff has said Nico also used this setting in Monaco as well and refused team orders to change it. So this “good guy” image that some would like to paste on the face of Rosberg doesn’t fit.

        Also when talking of Bahrain, It’s amazing that at the end of the race everybody was shouting at how amazing the race was, with so much wheel to wheel action between the field, particularly between Lewis & Nico. Now all of a sudden the moves Lewis put on Nico were to much and Lewis has crossed the line. It’s the same in Hungary, even though Rosberg said himself he was too far behind to make that move stick.

        What is interesting though is that everytime Nico has a tough race, or a race where the result didn’t go his way, Spain & Hungary for instance, The next race Nico has an “Incident”. After Spain there was Monaco & after Hungary there was Spa. Seems for all the talk of “moving on” from Rosberg he doesn’t seem to be able to do so.

    • Adam Hardwick (@fluxsource) said on 27th August 2014, 12:39

      My understand is that Lewis used the “forbidden” engine mode in Spain, only after Nico had previously done the same in Bahrain. I directly refute you claim that Lewis is as guilty as Nico.

    • matt90 (@matt90) said on 27th August 2014, 12:43

      The idea of deciding it even before the first corner doesn’t make much sense. When under pressure from other cars, you can’t expect one to dawdle and allow the other through first. In that case they both need to take the start seriously. And if the 2nd place man on the grid (of the two Mercs) takes the lead there, asking him to give it up is a recipe for disaster.

      • You can fight other over the first corner but as soon appropriate let the pole sitter back ahead and protect him.

        This will be the easiest to implement and most favoured by Hamilton (who thinks he is fastest qualifier) and by Rosberg (who wishes to show he is consistent) but above all, less headache for the management.

        In case one driver violates this rule at the Abu Double finale and deliberately overtake or worse crash the other driver out, then his contact is terminated and no pit service provided either if any pit stops left (Irvine’s 3 tyres springs to mind :))

        • matt90 (@matt90) said on 27th August 2014, 13:13

          Like I said, a recipe for disaster.

          • Why? They are team members and must behave as team players.
            If Mercedes instate a policy of “whoever gets pole wins” even if he loses the position at the start. This would limit intra-team competition to qualifying only which I am sure both drivers would relish as Hamilton thinks he is the fastest qualifier out there and Rosberg who knows he is more consistent and has a 29-point advantage and can afford coming 2nd few times still.

            This would give also the least headache for the management but must also come with an agreement that whoever violates this basic rule, his contact is terminated at year end for not being a team player. Existing contacts clauses allow for that I believe, especially for revealing details of internal meetings.

            I can only see one problem with that which is how genuine your would protect the lead driver if you were second AND the final stint in the final race of Abu Dhabi after which the team has no control over the race/championship outcome. A driver may choose to take the championship and be sacked which is still feasible indeed with the double points.

          • greg-c (@greg-c) said on 27th August 2014, 14:06

            Fight to the first corner ?
            Let pole sitter win ?

            What a load of crap ,

            How about fight to the chequered flag !

            Race bans
            Sanctions
            Are You Crazy !!!!!

            The best title fight since when ????
            And your talking about stopping it ?
            For What ?
            So someones fave driver doesnt have to face the challenge of a lifetime ?

            Last year Seb walked away with the trophy
            and twas a brilliant display of dominance , but , Boring !!!!!

            Now we have a battle royal !!!

            Yay!!!!!

            Let them fight ,

            I have made up my mind on what happened in Spa , and im probably wrong ,
            But im loving this , i cant wait for next race

            Bring It On

            ( steps down from soapbox)

          • The article is asking what Mercedes should do, not what the fans want.
            Put yourself in their shoes and you will do the same thing over and over again.
            Two cars likely to take P1 and P2 or thereabout.
            Higher position is to lead the protector.
            Employee competition is limited to qualifying only.
            Data-sharing stop at Saturday practice start.
            Let the best employee WINs

          • JCost (@jcost) said on 27th August 2014, 14:47

            indeed @matt90

            Toto and Niki were upset because Nico risked too much too early.

            They can race, but respect the legal limits and observe some wisdom. Nico failed in both fronts, that’s why “clumsy” fits perfectly the description of his “make a point” move.

          • matt90 (@matt90) said on 27th August 2014, 14:56

            The idea that an instruction to give up a position would go down well, even if agreed upon in advance, is ridiculous. Asking to hold station is one thing, asking to yield is quite another. Hence, recipe for disaster.

          • If they are allowed to race for first corner and then not yield after taking the lead (rightly so from a driver point of view), this would make the start more competitive for both drivers and the risk of crashing each other out increases exponentially. If I were Toto, Quali-competition is allowed but NOT the race. Race is to race other teams not my own half of the team.

          • matt90 (@matt90) said on 27th August 2014, 23:35

            You’re really not getting this, Ali.

        • Breno (@austus) said on 28th August 2014, 0:10

          I dont think even Briatore in Ferrari would go that far.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 27th August 2014, 14:24

        The only way for Mercedes to do that is to decide on strongly diverging strategies for their cars. But that would more or less hurt one of their 2 drivers and make them vulnerable to chasing cars.

  5. MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 27th August 2014, 12:37

    I think the problem you’ve touched on there is that the team has no authority over its drivers. They will simply choose to ignore any orders they want. I feel this goes right back to last year with Rosberg being told not to attack Hamilton when he had the faster car, and ever other instance of team orders the team has tried to impose since then has simply made things worse. Worse than that, by then justifying their drivers disobeying orders, they’ve created a situation where the drivers are effectively in charge of the team. It’s ironic really, since Mercedes seem to want to project the image of a team willing to let its drivers race, but then frequently tries to impose team orders. This sends out mixed messages, where it would have been far better to set the expectations from the outset and act in a consistent way. In a perfect world you wouldn’t need to impose team orders; the drivers would already understand what would be expected of them in most situations, and all it would take is a simple clarification of the situation over the radio.

    Do we as fans want to see this? Of course not; we want to see them duke it out. Hell we want to see flat tyres, smashed wings, fireworks, public displays of anger. We love the drama and excitement. But realistically this is a dreadful situation for the team.

    How do they recover from here? Difficult. Both drivers clearly feel like they have legitimate grievances. Publicly condemning one of the drivers as Wolff and Lauda did at the weekend will only make that situation worse, no matter how valid their frustrations may be. While I do love seeing the fireworks, I think for Mercedes the best thing for them is to take this all behind closed doors. No more public statements about it from anyone involved. Everyone needs to sit down together and genuinely thrash out all of the things that have bothered them, and have the very lengthy discussions required to make everyone understand why things went the way they did, and how to avoid it collectively in the future. Ultimately what everyone really wants is to know that things are going to be handled fairly, so fairness should be the foundation upon which they build the reconciliation. Both drivers need to feel like they’re being treated equally, and being given an equal opportunity to succeed. How they achieve that will be dependent on the expectations of the drivers, and how those expectations are managed. Maybe it means there will be no more team orders. Maybe it means there will be team orders in certain, predefined situations, with which both drivers have agreed to comply.

    But underlying all of that must be an assertion of authority on the part of the team. The drivers are contracted to work for them, and they are expected to do what they’re told and not to put their own self interests above those of the team. This means obeying the team even if you don’t personally see what the benefit would be. You’re an employee. And there needs to be a clearly defined consequence; this wouldn’t be a sporting consequence, but most likely a contractual one. Clearly, keep disobeying the team, and you will lose your job at the end of the season. It’s needs to be as clear as that.

    • Adam Hardwick (@fluxsource) said on 27th August 2014, 12:45

      I for one hope that they don’t take it behind closed doors. I’m loving the level of honesty and information coming from Mercedes, even if it cases problems for them. If they’re not doing anything dishonest or shameful, then why not let the public know?

      • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 27th August 2014, 12:52

        If I have an argument with a friend, it only makes the situation worse if I go on Facebook and tell everyone how angry I am with him. This is all to do with the dynamic of the relationship between team and driver. The reason I believe this would be best handled behind closed doors is because of the effect that doing it in public has on that relationship. It’s damaging, and becomes a war of words between teammates, and between team and drivers. Look at the reactionary way that Wolff and Lauda told the world how they were angry with Rosberg’s ‘unacceptable’ actions. Those actions were a result of a breakdown of trust between team and teammates; that breakdown of trust will only be made harder to restore while dirty laundry continues to be aired in public. Especially when the media are so keen to twist and distort words, and to make such a big deal out of every little comment. Then look at Hamilton running to the press and telling the world that Rosberg admitted hitting him on purpose, and the feeble flip-flopping of Mercedes trying to handle the fallout. Without all of this public drama, the issues can be kept between those directly affected, and handled in a face to face environment.

        • That’s because you’re not famous and no-one is interested in your squabbles. Conversely, I’m very interested in the goings-on behind the scenes at Merc and would welcome any tidbits of information.

          • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 27th August 2014, 14:09

            They are a sporting team, not a soap opera. You may like the drama, but they have no obligation to entertain you in this way.

          • IamSleepyWill said on 27th August 2014, 22:25

            @MazdaChris – their entire business is built on entertainment, in case you hadn’t noticed. Mercedes want people looking at their cars, they have plastered it in expensive adverts for businesses who demand exposure to Foumula one’s audience.

          • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 27th August 2014, 22:55

            Mercedes want people looking at their cars, certainly. But not while they’re embarrassingly crashing into each other. Not while one is running around near the back of the field moaning that he wants to give up. That’s not the way to sell cars or improve your brand identity. And if they want to avoid that kind of thing happening in future then I think the best thing is for them to deal with this calmly, and internally. Yes it deprives us fans of a bit of drama, but if the end result is them cruising to both championships then I’m sure it’ll be a price well paid.

          • IamSleepyWill said on 27th August 2014, 23:36

            Couldn’t agree with you more! But then I seem to be quite rare in that I don’t enjoy the drama at all. Once I stopped being a fan(atic) of any particular driver, some time in my teens, then suddenly Formula one got a lot better for me. I, personally am quite enjoying the season, I’ve been having a great time watching some amazing driving, and having no-one in particular to root for frees me up to root for everyone!

            I was just disagreeing with the “Merc are under no obligation to entertain” bit, but maybe we should meet halfway and say F1 teams are under no obligation to entertain through public arguments.

            I do hope we don’t go back to the days of everything happening behind closed doors and the PR filter separating the view from the inner machinations, but equally if I wanted to watch Dawsons Creek, I would!

  6. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 27th August 2014, 12:41

    F1 must be thankful this battle is developing this way. It’s incredibly exciting !

    Kinda like McLaren in 2007 without the Spygate. It’s a proper racing rivalry, and one that will always be remembered.

    • Its not exciting at all as Roseberg has got away with to much cheating and bad driving that if it carries on its obvious he will win wdc.

      Ive watched F1 since 1987 and this site has so many people (not aimed at you) who dont have one clue about f1 but would rather spat at a driver they dont like than stand up for whats true.
      I used to really like roseberg but now he should be thrown out of the sport!

    • eskopeso said on 28th August 2014, 11:19

      I wholeheartedly agree with @fer-no65, let them make this one of the greatest rivalries in F1 history.

      It’s not like great drivers (especially champions) haven’t used dirty tricks or bent the rules ever before, Senna and Schumacher being the most obvious examples. Don’t get me wrong, sportsmanship is great to see, but what makes history is a ruthless rivalry.

  7. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 27th August 2014, 12:45

    BTW, I think Mercedes has no way to fix this. Maybe control it a bit better, but not fix it. Others have tried and failed, so I doubt Toto, Lauda or whoever can do much.

    When there’s so much at stake, and specially in this conditions, when there’s absolutely no one else available to win the championship (except for a miracle), it was going to happen, it is happening and it will happen again.

  8. There are two views on this (or four… depending on whether you are Nico or Lewis). The spectator view point and the Mercedes board room.

    From a Mercedes point of view, the team must be World Champions in both championships. It is likely, although I’m not privy to their meetings, that they don’t care which of the two win the title. As such, it would be to their benefit if they employed a rule, as mentioned, specifying that the pole man wins, or similar. However, if they did that, how would it be perceived by the public? How would the Mercedes brand be viewed if they were allowed to take the fizz from the final races?

    From a neutral spectator point of view, I want to see drama, controversy and wheel-to-wheel racing. If that ends in contact then (assuming nobody is hurt) great!

    Let’s contrast two seasons in which the dominant car walked the Constructor’s Championship. 1988 and 2002. 1988, a classic season because of the duel and to-ing and fro-ing of Prost and Senna in the WDC. 2002, one of the most dull season’s in recent history as Barrichello wasn’t allowed to challenge Schumacher (whether he could have or not is neither here nor there!).

    To conclude, I sincerely hope Mercedes let the situation be and see what F1 history can be written as a result.

  9. Konstantinos (@constantinei) said on 27th August 2014, 12:49

    I believe that there’s little Mercedes can do in reality! They can just hope that both drivers will be sensible enough from now on. The price a team has to pay when they don’t have a clear number 1 driver I guess…

  10. Just from the comments above made by Rosberg supporters, one can deduce how much they are concerned about facts. One then wonders what fuels their unrelenting accusations against Lewis Hamilton.
    To answer the question raised by the article, I would say it is too late for any of the drivers to listen to whatever decision comes from MercedesAmgF1. That bird flew away since Bahrain and Canada. It’s all man for himself now, if not, one would literally be handing the championship over to the other.
    I saw an article on crashnet that says Lewis Hamilton says he is going to be or is a “team player” (if I am correct). That to me is rubbish. It is too late for such.
    After all, there is a reason why there is a parallel drivers championship to a Manufacturers’ championship.

    • Giggsy11 (@giggsy11) said on 27th August 2014, 16:25

      This is why I think it would be wiser dropping the team orders and splitting the garage into the two sides. If anyone watched MotoGP you have seen it in the past with Lorenzo and Rossi at Yamaha, having two teams within a team is the only way to deal with two ‘Roosters’ in one garage. It is not ideal for the team/brand because ideally you would want the team mates to finish 1st and 2nd every race but as you said that bird has gone. Mercedes have the Constructors wrapped up anyway, the only way that wont happen is if both drivers DNF all of the last races (and this will not happen).

      • in addition to what you said, I belive they should scrap the free flow of info between the two camps. Of course I never supported it because I have always believed it is cheating. Look at how very well it worked at Maclaren bw a relatively inexperienced Hamilton and an already established Alonso. It breeds a sense of entitlement and (in Nico’s case) a monster.
        When you make available to a weaker team mate the advantages of a better driver (which BTW makes them the stars they are) with no strings attached, you are encouraging a false sense of accomplishment.
        Nico having seen how far the team can go to elevate him therefore throws in everything when things don’t go his way. And MercedesAmgF1 having failed to penalise him from the word go -in Bahrain- have very little to do now, very little influence to exert now.
        Even the Germans are publishing -as I have read today amongst the many comments on this matter- are saying that Nico Rosberg also had his engine turned up high in Monaco as well according to Wolff and of course against team orders. That makes one wonder what more is being hiden concerning this cheat who some people are quick to defend and even have the temerity to say that Lewis Hamilton is at fault. How much is being hidden by MercedesAmgF1 about the actions of Nico Rosberg?
        This season no matter how it plays out will be remembered for the stunts pulled by an overzealous, dangerous and unscrupulous man who did everything even putting the lives of not just his team mate but that of others on the line to win a championship.
        Will he win the championship after all these stunts? Time will tell.

  11. Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 27th August 2014, 12:52

    It’s not difficult to imagine this might have rankled with Rosberg. Hamilton later noted that in a team meeting last Thursday it was clear Rosberg was still unhappy about the Hungary affair.

    This is the bit that poses me the problem – for all the will in the world (and with Team Orders or not), Hamilton was running his own race at that time and it was a fight for position.

    If Nico is simmering because he thinks Hamilton is going to destroy his race just to maintain a strategy for another driver (even if it is his team mate), he needs to have a think about how he’d handle the situation if the roles were reversed… Lewis said clearly that he would let Nico by (i.e. not hold him up) if he was near, but as it stands the whole situation was miss-communicated by the pit wall, but Nico seems to think it’s a slight against him by Lewis – did his race engineer tell him that Lewis would let him by if he could close up at racing speeds?

    Heck, if Nico lets stuff like this controlled by the pit wall hang over him, is he actually holding a grudge against Lewis for Malaysia 2013?

  12. Girts (@girts) said on 27th August 2014, 12:56

    I think the car is the team’s trump card at the moment. Red Bull built a very strong car in 2009 when there were serious changes to regulations and basically developed it over the following years and Mercedes have built an extremely strong car now. They will not necessarily win many championships in a row but it is very likely that the Brackley team will be one of the title contenders for years to come. If any of the drivers keeps damaging their relationship with the team, they might be forced to leave it, which is not a very bright prospect and might make them think twice.

    But I believe it will mostly depend on the strength of Mercedes management. The relationship between Vettel and Webber never really got out of control despite all the tensions, controversies and setbacks. So maybe Wolff should have a chat with Horner…

    It will also be helpful if one of the drivers establishes a healthy margin over the other one, like Bottas did over Massa after Williams’ infamous team orders in Malaysia.

    • Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 27th August 2014, 13:14

      @girts The reason the Vettel/Webber relationship sort of worked in 09/10 was whenever Mark felt slighted, he dug his heals in, took the knock on the chin and came back stronger – no whining, no fuss, just performance if need be. He never got on with the planted rear of the ’11 and ’13 cars, so just accepted his place and did his best – he criticised the Pirelli tyres for various reasons, but never slated the car.

      Hamilton is starting to finally show this ‘just get on with it’ mentality this year because of his many setbacks – of course, he ends up looking like a fruit if he starts playing the politics/media/mindgames.
      Rosberg, meanwhile, doesn’t quite seem to get this yet – On the surface he’s as steely and unmoved as most Germans (plus he’s had the rub of the green this year), but really doesn’t seem to recover well ‘internally’ from knock-backs – I can’t imagine he’d have mastered Germany if a) he hadn’t had other positive things to focus on then and Silverstone and b) Hamilton hadn’t had a brake failure.

  13. John H (@john-h) said on 27th August 2014, 12:57

    Personally, I don’t think Mercedes are coming out if this that badly to be honest. I’ve read a lot of comments about poor management, but that could also be said of Ferrari and McLaren when imposing ridiculous team orders in the past, and that did their image far more damage IMHO.

    The man on the street is talking more about F1 (I even heard them debating it on talksport the other day, a radio station that talks about nothing but horses and football). Whenever they talk, they mention that Mercedes have the best car… That’s good PR for them to the non-F1 fan!

    As a self-confessed Hamilton fan, Spa was hard to take, but if Rosberg wants to win titles in this way then so be it. For all his talent, Schumacher will always be tinged with Jerez 1997 and this is a similar situation for Rosberg. For all his faults (and there are many), Hamilton has never stooped as low in my view and hopefully he never will regardless of whether he only wins one championship.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 27th August 2014, 14:32

      Well said @john-h. To me the season so far has only done Mercedes favours:
      1. they clearly built the best car, and its not just 1 trick, its the whole package working together. Surely that is great PR for a luxury car maker
      2. The team has shown that they are serious with the racing spirit they have tried to show while working with McLaren, being the ones to jump in and enable Brawn GP to run (the engine) and they continue on the path of preferring the drivers to fight it out on track.

      Sure, the team order / no team order thing worked out clumsy, and now the (much anticipated by most, and almost inevitable) clash on track showed how intense the fight is. That makes it top sport, so kudos to Mercedes for letting us enjoy the fight.

      Hamilton has shown how great he can shake off setbacks so far this year and come back stronger, and Rosberg is starting to show a steely side from under the “Britney” image that Mark Webber cleverly put on him, all of which makes it even better to see the season develop.

    • bpacman (@bpacman) said on 27th August 2014, 21:32

      @john-h @bascb Couldn’t agree more. People like Eddie Jordan may see it from a team principal perspective – but as a fan of the sport, this is brilliant.

      I also am a Hamilton fan – but I worry that any team orders will either disadvantage him or, if they do work in his favour, tarnish any resultant overhauling of Rosberg’s lead.

      Let them race flat out until the end of the season – if the racing crosses the line, let the stewards sort it out.

  14. I don’t think there’s much they can do. They could give them a fine or a salary drop, but they’re both so friggin’ rich that they’d have to deduct millions to have any effect on them. They clearly won’t listen to team orders anymore so that’s out of the question, and it would be unfair to disadvantage one of them competitively. I think the only thing they can really do with the least amount of backlash is to say “one chance, if you mess it up you will be benched for the next race”.

  15. ADD (@addimaf1) said on 27th August 2014, 13:16

    There seems to be extreme opinions on what Mercedes should do. There are those that think that it was Hamiltons fault and that the entire F1 community is wrong, and those that think that Rosberg should be banned for one race, two race, the whole season!!! What I think will happen is in the middle, they will do absolutely nothing. They will go into Monza as if nothing happened at least from a team point of view. The media on the other hand. We already know team orders wont work. We can only hope that Rosberg’s point has been proven and that Hamilton gives him a lesson in wheel to wheel in Monza, that can be punishment enough, I just hope Hamilton is good enough too.

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