Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2016

Hamilton wins but Mercedes pay price of letting drivers race

2016 Austrian Grand Prix reviewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

At the end of last year Mercedes were repeatedly criticised for not letting their drivers race each other via strategy. As a result they changed their approach for 2016, allowing their drivers to run different strategies.

But in the Austrian Grand Prix it created the circumstances under which Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg came to blows on the final lap, costing the team valuable points.

Hamilton versus Rosberg

Start, Red Bull Ring, 2016
Button was the surprise at the start
Mercedes had wrecked their ultra-soft tyres in the hot conditions of final practice. On a track which reached 52C they lasted just a handful of laps. But the far cooler conditions of race day was expected to change that – and so it proved.

The track temperature was just 26C when the race began, and after converting his pole position into the lead Hamilton was able to eke out his ultra-soft tyres until lap 21. Rosberg, having to fight his way up from sixth on the grid, made his first stop much earlier.

Rosberg had just done two consecutive laps which were almost a second slower than Hamilton’s, indicating he hadn’t been able to look after his tyres as well as his team mate. By pitting first he had the advantage of the ‘undercut, but as he was over six seconds behind his team mate to begin with it didn’t immediately matter.

By lap 20, however, Rosberg was in clear air and about to move into Hamilton’s pit window. A pit stop at the Red Bull Ring costs around 20 seconds, and Mercedes called Hamilton in when his lead was 21.9 seconds. But Hamilton’s pit stop was slow – a sticking left-rear wheel cost him over a second – and Rosberg suddenly lowered his pace. That proved enough for the number six Mercedes to jump ahead.

The extra second stop

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2016
Hamilton forced Rosberg’s hand with a second stop
With older tyres Rosberg was obviously at a greater risk of needing to make a second pit stop. That risk diminished when the Safety Car came out due to Sebastian Vettel’s tyre failure, which came with zero warning and was alarmingly reminiscent of the ones he and Rosberg suffered at Spa last year.

By lap 53 of 71 it seems Hamilton’s engineers were satisfied Rosberg did not need to pit again. So what was their best chance to help Hamilton get ahead of Rosberg?

By leaving him out he would likely follow Rosberg to the flag, both on similar-age tyres of the same compound. By bringing him in they could try to re-catch and attack Rosberg on fresher tyres or – if Rosberg also pitted – jump him using the undercut.

Rosberg and Hamilton’s lap times on soft tyres suggest they could have run to the end without pitting a second time. If a joint decision had been taken to pit both cars, it begs the question why Hamilton was given the advantage of pitting first and getting the undercut, even if it failed to get him ahead.

Rosberg did the latter, possibly because Hamilton’s pit stop again did not go smoothly. Again he lost over a second compared to Rosberg on the jacks (Rosberg had the fastest complete pit stop of the race) and compounded it by running wide at turn two on his out-lap while trying to keep Daniel Ricciardo behind.

Both drivers avoided the ultra-soft tyres. Hamilton had nursed his for 21 laps in the 1’11s, but Mercedes clearly doubted they could manage a similar distance going three seconds per lap faster – or more. And, of course, when Hamilton’s team brought him in they had no idea whether Rosberg would respond. Had that happened, while Hamilton might be able to catch Rosberg on ultra-softs, they would be very worn by the time he got within range – potentially useless.

Would the super-softs hold up as well? If they would, better to have a new set. Rosberg did, but Hamilton only had a used set. After leaving the pits he quizzed his team why they had put him on the harder tyres.

“This is the case where you have to rely on your engineers because they have better understanding,” he explained afterwards. “They would have seen all the other drivers run on the supersoft from the beginning and they would have seen the drivers run on the soft.”

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Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2016
The last-lap crash cost Mercedes points
“I was not in a position to make a judgement there. When I came in I’m hoping the team will give me the best tyre.”

With hindsight it’s clear they did. Although Hamilton’s tyres took a little longer to warm up – a problem mitigated by the fact both drivers ran into traffic – when they came good Hamilton was consistently quicker than Rosberg.

What happened next was the exact reason why Mercedes held back from allowing their drivers to attack each other via strategy last year. Hamilton drew within range of Rosberg, attacked him on the final lap on the outside of turn two only for Rosberg to stray well wide of the racing line, causing contact between the pair.

Even taking into account the brake-by-wire problem which had apparently developed on Rosberg’s car, his obvious reluctance to turn into the corner was damning. However poetic justice reigned: as Hamilton rejoined the track Rosberg was already in trouble, his front wing folding under his car.

Hamilton shot past Rosberg, just as yellow flags were appearing for Sergio Perez’s crashed Force India, but with his team mate’s car slowing rapidly this was not a punishable offence. Rosberg’s defending was, but after lengthy deliberations the stewards handed down little of substance: a ten-second penalty left him in fourth place, which he had slipped to at the finishing line anyway.

Wehrlein in the points

Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, Red Bull Ring, 2016
Wehrlein tried to start tenth, then finished there
Rosberg was demoted by Max Verstappen, who once again proved impervious to pressure from Kimi Raikkonen. Daniel Ricciardo fell behind is team mate at the start and came home fifth.

Jenson Button was a delighted sixth having defied expectatoins by moving up to second place and holding position for several laps at the start. His team mate suffered engine problems for much of the race and retired.

Like Verstappen and Raikkonen, Romain Grosjean made a one-stop strategy work and collected more points for Haas with seventh ahead of Carlos Sainz Jnr. Valtteri Bottas, who grained his tyres early on, had to make a further pit stop and fell to ninth.

Perez’s late retirement due to brake failure allowed Pascal Wehrlein to claim an extraordinary first point. It was all the more remarkable given he’d pulled up into the wrong starting position pre-race and had to reverse back into position.

A frustratingly point-less season continued for Esteban Gutierrez as he registered his third 11th-place finish. Felipe Nasr ran in the points during the Safety Car period but couldn’t eke his tyres out for a one-stop, meaning Sauber’s wait for points goes one.

From his front row start, Nico Hulkenberg plummeted down the order with graining tyres. He eventually retired due to high brake wear, a sensible move given his team mate’s crash due to the same problem.

Will Mercedes end the right to race?

Mercedes paid a high price for letting their drivers attack each other via their race strategies. Under their 2015 policy the dramatic outcome would probably not have happened.

Mercedes let their drivers race, which is exactly what many fans want them to do. But it brings risks along with it.

Toto Wolff is already threatening to impose team orders to prevent a repeat of incidents such as this and their first-lap collision in Spain. While they may not go that far just yet, it would be no surprise if they revert back to their 2015 policy of using the most conservative strategy to guarantee the best possible result for the team.

106 comments on “Hamilton wins but Mercedes pay price of letting drivers race”

  1. Robert McKay
    3rd July 2016, 19:40

    I know it’s probably difficult for Toto to believe but, provided it doesn’t stop them winning the championships (which it won’t), the odd incident of two Mercedes running into each other because of a hard-fought race between a pair of drivers pushing the limit is still easily much better PR than stage-managed, team-ordered 1-2 finishes.

    It might reduce the number of podium trophies they collect, but they’ll still be ahead in the long game.

    1. Agreed. Mercedes might lose a few points with incidents between their drivers but they can afford it based on current form.

      I would be willing to bet that they get a lot more media coverage than Red Bull did when they were dominating.

      1. Fully agree.

        And for all those who criticise Mercedes’ decision to let them race; please check which team scored most points in Austria!
        Good PR and extending you WCC lead – not a bad haul for the weekend.

    2. Dan Rooke (@geekzilla9000)
      3rd July 2016, 19:56

      That is a great point, Mercedes won’t rest until they have the constructor’s championship mathematically sealed, but realistically it’s in the bag – so not really at risk.

      Their drivers racing and colliding gives the sponsors a lot of coverage, it may have been a quick incident at the end of the race but it was shown again and again, and in the news tonight and in the papers tomorrow – that will be what dominates. It’s also great for the fans, had either driver been forced to give up or remain in position then it would have been a sterile end to what was a pretty eventful and action-packed race.

      On paper this might seem like a pedestrian affair – Ham on pole, Ham wins. But the reality is that 2 drivers in the same team and fighting for the championship had a scrap and sparks literally flew rather than coasting over the line in quiet formation. I know what I would rather watch.

      This season has been amazing so far.

    3. It’s something that Mercedes does need to address somehow. It’s all fine now that they have a dominant car with room for mistakes but in the future, if things even out, I’d wager Mercedes will regret not taking the issue seriously now.

    4. I agree, team orders are insufferable and deserve no respect. I do respect Mercedes for letting their guys race, even when they make mistakes. That is how it should be. We fans would much rather see races decided on track than in the pits or board room. Some teammates seem to be able to race each other hard with a minimum amount of mistakes. These guys are rapidly building a history that is bigger than the individual race situations they find themselves in when racing each other. It did make for a memorable race today, but I would actually prefer they find a way to race each other hard without too much contact. Probably not as badly as Merc wishes they could do that though.

    5. Odd incident? You mean every second race?

      But agreed. They make Mercedes look good. Better than calling hold stations at lap 50.

      I hope top brass sees that.

    6. It’s an odd incident here and there as you say but the folks at Mercedes’ directive board want their cars to finish 1-2 cleanly, without problems, smashing the opposition. They don’t want one car winning and the other coming 4th with a broken wing.

      Even if that doesn’t mean they’ll lose either championship, from a marketing point of view alone, it’s unacceptable. The championship is the ultimate goal, but every race is a challenge on its own and the goal there is to finish 1-2 and not crash, specially between team mates.

      1. From marketing stand point this is great. Nobody reports on mercedes 1-2 anymore… But if Lewis and Nico spark up a front wing… Boom, headlines, analysis, forum debates spring to life.

        If they sent a team order Multi 644 with two laps to go, nobody would talk about it, except to mention how booring is F1.

    7. I would also think that Merc would know and accept that this will happen from time to time, but they will still win the team championship. I wonder if they also notice that if they win the constructors championship with the least amount of points, its the less they have to pay to enter next year. So it might be wish financially to not always screw and look negatively on not finishing 1-2 (not that money is an issue for them)

    8. Couldn’t agree more

    9. Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta)
      4th July 2016, 8:15

      The key phrase here is “provided it doesn’t stop them from winning championships”. The drivers have already collided twice in the past six races despite being reprimanded by Mercedes last time, and tension between them is still increasing. It appears to be the case that Lewis and Nico lose their judgement capabilities when racing each other (they don’t generally do this bad a job when racing other people, else they’d be strewn with DNFs and race-damaged lost points). Sadly, it is necessary to give the orders, simply because even Mercedes can’t afford to lose a quarter of their points (and likely to increase proportionally with the tensions) to intra-team spats. F1 champions have to be racing teams, and it is clear that on-track, the drivers can no longer do both simulataneously.

      And then they need to promote Pascal Wehrlein for 2017, because they won’t be a racing team until one of the current pair is replaced. They will have told the world that their two drivers cease to be F1-level when in the same area as each other. As they are trying to be F1 champions, they need to make sure their drivers act like F1 champions on all on-track occasions. Champions don’t shed points through hitting their team-mates. (Yes, people will quote Senna, but that wasn’t a championesque moment for me, even if he won the championship in the process).

    10. It’d be a little bit easier to manage if at some point in the season, they actually manage to have a clean fight with each other…..

    11. @Robert McKay: I know it’s probably difficult for Toto to believe but, provided it doesn’t stop them winning the championships

      thats difficult for anyone to believe, how would he know the answer to that? As dominant as they look “ANYTHING” can happen throughout the year.

  2. It’s about time Rosberg was given his cards.

    1. +1
      Mercedes are enabling him now. Putting aside Monaco 2014, where most of the paddock came to the conclusion he deliberately span off in qualifying, we’ve had Spa 2014, taking out Hamilton (deliberately in my view), then Barcelona where driving Hamilton off the track led to a double DNF, and Austria this weekend, perhaps the most blatantly obvious, where he almost wrecked both their races. Hamilton knows how to push a driver off track safely (within the regulations) as he’s done with Rosberg (and Rosberg has done with him). He also knows how to give track room and not cause a shunt through being blo*dy-minded, as shown in his close racing over several corners with Button or Webber, for example.

      Look at the pattern: Rosberg goes for the ‘nuclear’ option when he has a problem. The threat of losing qualifying at Monaco after he made a mistake in the ealier part of the lap, losing the lead of the race at Spa, making an engine setting mistake off the start at Barcelona, making a mistake into the corner at Austria that allowed Hamilton to make a challenge. It’s a consistent pattern. He makes a blunder and rather than ‘taking responsibility’ by accepting the loss of position/race etc., he ‘takes out’ his competitor (Hamilton). It’s now being repeated consistently.

      So what should Mercedes do? Wolff’s threat to impose team orders and ‘freeze’ track position worries me. Does that mean that if Rosberg inherits the race lead through a change in team strategy (let’s call it ‘luck’) that he gets to keep the lead? Would Hamilton even accept that? Of course he wouldn’t. He’d defy Mercedes and tell them where to stick their contract. Rightly. So what are Mercedes playing at? On evidence, it does like they want Rosberg to win this year by any means. Because any other team would have demoted him to second driver after Austria.

  3. As a fan it’s great we get to see them fight for the win. Who doesn’t love Bahrain 2014? But I understand Toto’s frustration about his 2 drivers being idiots sometimes. Toto also has to think about the people who’s working for him instead of those just driving for him.

    There are more then 1000 people working on those cars to make them race at the peak performance every 2 weeks all over the world. As a team manager he also has to think about the people who’s working for him maintaining the cars. Keep them happy and the they will just give you a bit more than normal. A happy workplace is a productive workplace.

    At the same time. He has too manage two of the biggest ego’s driving his cars at the same time. As we have seen over the past 3 years not an easy job. With Nico’s thought that he can get away with murder and Lewis ”no mercy” mentality, it’s place where you can go from sunshine and rainbows to screaming bloody murder in one turn. Which happened today.

    They’ve still got performance to spare. But if Ferrari and Red Bull were any closer he would have clamped down on team orders alot sooner and Nico would already be designated #1.

  4. Some drivers just have a better sense than others on when to fight, block, race hard or when to collect maximum points for your situation at that given moment and live to fight another day. I think a few drivers truly can be devious and evil in their intent on track and some others simply get caught up in what the post race fan machismo talk will be if they don’t plow someone off the track instead of doing what they need to do to collect maximum points that day.

    My preference is race drivers who race smart and know when and where to race hard. I always ask, what would Jim Clark do?

  5. Nico rosberg did a di grassi…

    1. Or did di grassi do a rosberg

    2. Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta)
      4th July 2016, 8:17

      It didn’t work out well for either of them…

  6. Seventeen years ago at that very corner, David Coulthard spun out Mika Hakkinen and went onto win the race. It was a move that almost certainly caused McLaren heart palpatations, but it was a direct result of their policy to allow their drivers to race each other. At the end of the season, Hakkinen had claimed his second and final championship. To tell the truth, I don’t care who wins as long as it’s a clear fight to the finish. And it’s my belief, that when it boils down to it, Mercedes want Rosberg to be this years champion and not Lewis.
    This is not because I support Hamilton, I support fair racing. Rosberg’s pass on Hulkenberg at the opening stages of the race was sublime. In fact his whole race up until the last lap was sensational. But it’s my opinion that Nico behaves like he did today and in Spain because he knows he has the likes of Lauda and Wolff on his side. Mercedes decision should not be team orders, but perhaps decide which driver they want to keep and which one they want to let go.
    I do not believe that these drivers, in these conditions, within this team, is the right combination anymore. There is obviously too much bad blood, as there was nearly a decade ago when Hamilton was team mates with Fernando Alonso.
    One of the biggest mistakes Ron Dennis made back in 2007 was his reluctance to deal with the problem by brushing it under the carpet, and you can’t do that in these situations. It simply does not work in the long run.

    1. No, Coulthard didn’t win in 1999. He even lost the race to Häkkinen’s rival Irvine. A bad day at the office I guess…

    2. I see it more as the somewhat desperate move of a guy who KNOWS that when push comes to shove the team will back his teammate who is already a triple champion and gets a salary more than double that what Rosberg gets and has used to come out on top more or less their whole careers @the limit

    3. If Mercedes favour Rosberg, than they would never let Hamilton pit first to undercut Rosberg. Racing team ethics normally let the leading driver pit first.
      What happened here in Austria actually looks looks like the Mercedes team favour Hamilton.

      1. The Skeptic
        4th July 2016, 13:31

        1st pit stop: Hamilton leading, Rosberg pitted first. That’s how Rosberg got the lead!

    4. Yes, I think you’ve called it right. All this year I’ve had the impression Mercedes are favouring Rosberg, subtly, but evident in a few clues. It was clear he was pushing Hamilton off track, and also clear he was unconcerned by the consequences: he knows Lauda and Wolff are protecting him. Sadly I think they’re going to give him this championship by some means or other. Quite why, I don’t know.

  7. Was it strategic variation or just a mistake in not covering Rosberg by Hamiltons wall? There was a risk that Ferrari would one-stop, but Rosberg was the fastest car on track by far and raikkkonen is not a title threat. Then they let the pit window get critical making a slow stop potentially losing them the position. Not great. But point is that the variation here was really the result of errors, not an alternative strategies.

    1. Lewis’ side of the garage and his strategist made a lot of errors today.

      1. There’s no such thing as Lewis’ strategist, Mercedes only has 1 strategy guy responsible for both drivers.

        1. “And, of course, when Hamilton’s team brought him in they had no idea whether Rosberg would respond”
          This didn’t make sense to me, knowing the team has only one strategist.

    2. @dmw At the time there were reports of rain, and you could see the raindrops on the camera lens in the helicopter shots. I was under the impression that Lewis was going as long as possible with the thought that he might need to stop for wets.

  8. WillOfTheSupremo
    3rd July 2016, 21:19

    “it cost Mercedes valuable championship points”

    Six. Rosberg got 12 instead of 18. Compared to the 700-ish Merc will have by the end of the season, that’s hardly valuable when seen under a practical light.

    1. You don’t win Formula One championships by giving away points when you don’t need to. Championships have been decided by far less than six points.

      1. Mercedes is going to win this years championship, even if one car doesn’t finish every other race. There advantage is over a second on some tracks. It doesn’t matter what those two guys do, Mercedes had this years championship in the bag back in 2014. And it won’t change until either Lewis goes to Ferrari and they pick up a net gain of about 6/10’s on Mercedes or the guys steering the rules stop letting Merc win by fixing the fuel amount in the sporting regulations.

        1. @xsavior I can see why you’d think Mercedes are going to win the championship and I share the same opinion. But it’s an opinion, not a fact. The fact is you can lose a world championship by less than six points. Given that, no team which spends a nine-figure sum to go motor racing is going to be satisfied about letting points slip away like this.

          I doubt you think Toto Wolff sat down with Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton tonight and told them ‘it’s only six points, it doesn’t matter’.

          1. Mercedes have had this championship in the bag before the season started, such is their domination. It’s only not a fact because it hasn’t happened yet.

            Now if they dropped the 100kg of fuel per race … Things would be a little different. The real question, is why don’t Ferrari and RBR want to ditch that regulation, because it’s giving Merc the ability to walk away with win after win.

          2. Mercedes have got so much publicity from this incident, the value of that will easily recoup any costs involved in minor repairs to the cars. The fans love that they are allowed to race, conversely it would reinforce the ‘old man’s car’ image of Mercedes to issue team orders.

            It’s not disrespecting the rest of the factory personnel to use these cars for what they were intended, a full-on race. True, this was yet another sign, after Barcelona and Monaco, that one of them can’t hack pressure and yesterday it went beyond competitive driving. The answer was presented to them in the very same race, promote [German] Pascal Wehrlein, he showed again that he is indeed a very good prospect. Which current MB driver would have to step down, well I’m biased, but just on the balance of results and keeping the brand in the public eye, it’s a no-brainer.

          3. “The real question, is why don’t Ferrari and RBR want to ditch that regulation, because it’s giving Merc the ability to walk away with win after win.”

            Well you answered the question yourself really. It is because it is not helping Mercedes.

            I’m not sure why people keep saying that the 100kg limit is somehow a hindrance given that teams regularly start races with less than that anyway :S

      2. Championships have been decided by far less than six points.

        Actually not the WCC, @keithcollantine.

        Yes there were only 5 points between 1 and 2 in 2006; but that would be around 12 in today’s money.
        Similar for the 4 points difference in 1999.

        And the 3 points in 1964 I cannot even translate, as only 6 races counted and only 1 car per team per race.

    2. Mercedes don’t just show up to eventually collect the constructors championship at the end of the season. Last year once Hamilton had won in Austin they could have pulled a Manor and not sent the cars out for the remaining races, instead they continued to go and win races and more points than they needed that actually wound up costing them money in entry fees because racing is their passion.

      It’s not ok to get just the results needed, they want to achieve the best result possible because it’s their passion. When they only came 2nd in 2013 they would have still been happy knowing everyone delivered their best against a great competitor. In this race to come away 6 points less than they should because one team member did something stupid is an insult to the hundreds of people who work to go racing.

      1. Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta)
        4th July 2016, 8:22

        Mercedes couldn’t have skipped Austin and the races following it the way Marussia, as they had no force majuere reason to do so. No creditor banging on their door with debts they couldn’t pay off right away, no seriously injured drivers (each of which, in and of itself, has been accepted as a valid reason to skip races in the past), no other reason that could plausibly be interpreted as rendering Mercedes unable to compete in any of the races in question.

        As such, not only would Mercedes have lost the points and participation monies from those three races (if a race is skipped, FOM has discretion not to pay the team for that race, even if the FIA has excused them from it), but they would have been thrown out of the championship and barred from re-entry for as long as the EU allowed the FIA to do so. Not good for the PR machine…

        1. @alianora-la-canta My point being missed aside, there are always ways in which a team could not field a car. Bottas in Melbourne 2015 for example, Manor not running a car at the beginning of 2015 because of technical issues.

          If Mercedes was purely a business operation to collect enough points to secure the championships there are more efficient ways to achieve that than how they do. But they are a team of passionate racers, Toto Wolff is a shrewd business man, highly successful financially speaking. But the man has racing in his blood. He takes his talent for business and uses it to live his dream. That doesn’t include being happy about losing just 6 points when he’s part of a team that should have taken a full points haul.

          1. Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta)
            5th July 2016, 8:46

            Williams were flat forbidden from running a car in Australia 2015 as by race day, they had no drivers for that car qualified to race it. Williams only avoided getting additional penalty by the fact they had made a legitimate attempt to qualify the car, in the eyes of the stewards.

            Manor, as you say, had technical issues. They came within a hair’s breadth of being thrown out of the championship based on Australia 2015, and didn’t get paid for it. The FIA needed a fair amount of convincing that Manor had made an honest attempt to qualify and Bernie Ecclestone never believed them.

            Mercedes therefore could not have skipped the races you suggested, nor even turned up and failed to qualify, without being thrown out of the championship, as it did not have any of the pretexts available to it to allow itself to miss those races. (Incidentally, if the point of your comment was not using the participation in 2014’s final races to prove Mercedes wasn’t displaying commercial attitude wasn’t the point of your comment, please could you explain what the point was?)

          2. @alianora-la-canta side argument about finding a way of not running aside because that isn’t my point at all:

            Mercedes didn’t need any more points after USA 2015, they’d won but they still went out and won the remaining races as well despite the fact that more championship points was actually going to make it cost them more money on entry fees for this year because they aren’t in the championship for the formality of collecting the trophy come season end, they are in it to achieve the best result every race because it’s a passion project for them. If they are beaten by another team fair and square they hold their heads up high that they competed. If positions are thrown away by a move like Rosbergs, regardless of the fact they will still win the championship and those 6 extra points won’t matter a great deal then they are unhappy because it isn’t the result they deserve.

          3. Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta)
            6th July 2016, 0:26

            @philipgb Thank you for clarifying :)

  9. @keithcollantine I believe the reason Merc pitted Lewis first is because they recognised that by keeping him out for a long (and slow) first stint and then switching him to a 2 stop strategy anyway they had cost him the lead as he would no doubt have been ahead of Rosberg had they just used the same strategy for both drivers from the start.

    I think this was just their attempt at giving him back the lead without asking Nico to move over (again), but a botched pit stop and Lewis’s mistake at the top of the hill ruined it anyway.

    1. Lewis was messed over three times in that race, the first pit stop, pitting him a second time, and putting him on the slower tires after the last stop. They never had any interest in giving Lewis position over Nico, they handed Nico the win, and Nico choked on the pressure of Lewis pushing Nico. Has Nico even won this year when being pushed ? He certainly hasn’t out qualified Lewis unless Lewis had a reliability issue or his car was setup wrong.

      1. I can see where you’re coming from, but in the heat of the moment I’m sure Mercedes were just giving Lewis what they thought was the best strategy at the time.

        Before the race Niki Lauda was saying a one-stop would be better if they could make the tyres last, and despite everyone assuming the ultra-soft tyres would give up quickly, it was the soft tyre that wasn’t lasting long enough and thus forced Mercedes onto a two stop with him.

        Nico only had one set of soft tyres for the race, so he was always going to be on the super-soft for the final stint. Yes, in theory it is a quicker tyre, but time and time again we see that the harder tyre is often the better tyre when you need to push continuously lap after lap. Bono predicted over the radio that Lewis would be on the best tyre at the end of the race and he was right.

        Mercedes were fair to both drivers, so it’s a shame it ended like it did.

      2. I was screaming and singing songs at Merc for not letting Lewis to pit when it was 25secs mark… They dont consider mistakes/problems that can occur during pits… Looking at Lewis’s tyres in close up cams, i though they were about to blow up anytime, and really surprised… but he was warned about curb useage by team, and his times got slower… one of the reasons probably why Ros had very bad graining and couldnt go any faster as he was all over curbs, he destroyed his tyres…

        Merc today looked to set to screw Ham big time… Let him out for too long, botched two pit stops, and last one almost was unbelievable as they gave Ros SS and Ham S! Almost Bahrain but this time knowingly… was nail biting end…

        1. @mysticus

          Can we just stop the favoritism rubbish? It’s so boring.

          It’s making it hard to read the comments. It’s just, so stupid.

          Do you really want Merc to give Lewis’ used tyres?

        2. @mysticus So you would rather Mercedes had given Hamilton super-softs like Rosberg, which grained up and lost him time, allowing Hamilton to attack him?

          1. Hamilton if i remember correctly, didnt have SS available, I didnt mention SS for Ros for favorism, it was inconsistency and worst screwing a long front running driver. They left him out long unusually long in an extremely risky move. He was way ahead and could easily finish hassle free. 15-18 laps was already a stretch, and he had enough buffer to Rosberg and anyone behind, yet they not only overestimated the timing, they screwed up his pit stops twice while Nico’s were the best of the race… Also didnt think of any warm up time either… which normally takes time always!

            SS on nico was brand new, where as S on Ham was used set if i recall correctly, if they didnt think SS would last, why did they give nico SS? A lot of illogical explanations…

    2. Lewis’s mistake at the top of the hill ….. come on be honest, that was 100% down to Nico

      1. I was talking about the mistake on his outlap at the same corner… He ran deep and wide.

        1. sorry I misunderstood your comment

  10. Tim Bosseloo
    3rd July 2016, 21:44

    It still baffles me that everyone blames Rosberg, while he was on the inside of the turn. Sure, he overshot (deliberately or not), but Lewis wasn’t passed him yet – so it was reckless of him to continue his turn to the inside from that position. He should have braked harder and turned in behind Rosberg, would have been far more elegant!

    1. John Bridger
      3rd July 2016, 21:49

      You should review the line Rosberg takes cutting across Hulkenberg in turn 2 on lap 6 and then reconsider. Lewis gave Rosberg plenty of room, Rosberg gave Hulkenberg none.

      Also, if you look at the still impact photo Lewis was in front and Rosberg hit the rear of Hamilton’s front wheel.

    2. Spec Savers….

    3. even if you take that logic- how do you explain Nico blocking Lewis fro rejoining the track? that Lewis’ fault too?

      1. Should’ve left Lewis some room to rejoin the track.
        Nico seems desperate and disrespectful to the team lately.

        1. I m gutted that Ros got away this one scoff free again!!! 10 sec only penalty for causing a well avoidable collision, blocking someone (worst his team mate) rejoining track… Ham got much harshest penalty for rules that didnt exist until after the race…

      2. That I disagree with. If you are off the track, it’s your job to return safely.

    4. Rosberg got off easy Again!!!! What a dirty driver.

      1. Mark in Florida
        4th July 2016, 1:55

        Why so upset? Nico was merely imitating Lewis’s hero Senna. Senna was as dirty as could be when it suited him. Lewis should feel honoured. Lewis went for the gap knowing that Rosberg probably would shove him wide just like he has done many times to him. It just didn’t work out for Rosberg. I really like the fact that Rosberg is starting to give as good as he has been getting. When you drive in a take no prisoners manner people will always know where you stand.

    5. You should also look at the replays … Lewis had his nose in front, if Nico had taken a tighter line he would have made the turn and may even have retained the lead … he would have at least have got 2nd and 18 points instead of 12.

      Like a lot of people I am beginning to think that Nico deliberately took the risk to run Lewis off the track and this time paid the price.

      Nobody has said it but if you look at Nico’s body language as he went to get weighed and the little shrug of the shoulders said it all for me …. it was just like saying “oh well”, if he really thought it was Lewis’s fault he would have been just a little more wound up than he was.

    6. I think you would be less baffled if you took in consideration that the vast majority of these publicly expressed opinions are english ;-)

    7. If Lewis wasn’t passing Nico, How could they possibly collide?
      Its clear the biggest problem is Nico doesn’t mind destroying any race or team to stop Lewis passing him.
      He knows they are not in the same league and rather then being a sportsman, let the whole world crash and burn.
      Every collision they have had was when Lewis was passing Nico, never the other way round as far as I can remember.

      1. Actually, no. It happened that Hamilton did push Rosberg out when it was Rosberg trying to pass him. The only difference was that Rosberg, instead of turning in like Hamilton, left the track and lost a few places as a result. At the time many people said that its was Rosberg’s bad racecraft because he should have known that Hamilton would have squeezed him, so he was wrong going for the outside. Well, this time it was Hamilton going for the outside. And Rosberg paid again. It seems Lewis is better at the dirty tactics than Rosberg. He is also a better driver (although not by much it seems), quite a tough situation for Rosberg.

    8. If Hamilton had turned any later he’d have been in Czechoslovakia.

      1. Unfortunately, no, although I wouldn’t mind seeing an F1 car blasting past our house :-).
        Actually, Hamilton had plenty of room: acres of runoff, just like Rosberg had when Hamilton squeezed him out in a few previous races. Just Hamilton did not feel like taking it (after all, he was ahead at the time) and it paid off for him.

      2. Well, maybe Steyr

    9. Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta)
      4th July 2016, 8:26

      If Lewis hadn’t been there, Nico would have been off the track because he wasn’t braking enough to take the corner within track limits. Any problems resulting from such a line are, by definition, Nico’s fault (except if Lewis had been about to do something similarly rule-breaking). Lewis could probably have avoided the accident and obtained the lead anyway had he known earlier that Nico was headed off-track and moderated his steering angle/throttle input… …but Lewis’ driving was only a problem because Nico missed his braking point in the first place.

  11. Today was a victory for F1. A fantastic race, really mixing the order around. But, the crown of it was the rivalry between Hamilton and Rosberg. Mercedes engineered that fight and the fight had to be, to make the race as good as it was. Toto said it was “disrespecting” those who designed and built the cars. No: what would disrespect them more would be to neutralise the racing at the front, make F1 sterile and collapse on itself. Those 1500 people then wouldn’t have a job. Keep them racing, even if it means a slight team cost: F1 needs this excitement.

    1. The rivalry is good- in fact it’s a natural result of employing 2 closely matched and competetive drivers. What’s laughable is the Mercedes bosses getting all in a tizzy because of it. Relax – it’s what most of us want to see and it’s what you allowed to happen!

    2. Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta)
      4th July 2016, 8:28

      The disrespect came from the stupid driving that ended the battle, not the battle itself.

  12. It’s high time Merc found a new driver to partner Hamilton for 2017. Perhaps Button would be a good choice as he has been paired with Hamilton before and can handle the close combat situations without crashing.

    How many times are Merc prepared to let Rosberg ruin their results? The worst part is that Rosberg appeared to have the intention of crashing or sending his teamate into the gravel just like he did in Spain this year and Spa the year before.

    1. Why this is good for F1 no need for Button. I do not see a German team getting rid of the one German driver.

      1. Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta)
        4th July 2016, 8:29

        The likely replacement is Pascal Wehrlein, who is German, so that may make it easier.

    2. Rosberg is a very fast driver shown by how well he does against Hamilton in qualifying. They complement each other and I think it would be a mistake to replace him. If the drivers don’t push each other then the team will not know either the direction of development or the potential of the car. Romberg is as instrumental to Merc success as Hamilton.

      1. Not At all. Roseberg has lost any edge he garnered during quali in previous years which was due I believe in having Hamilton’s data to use. That works both ways and I think that Hamilton was suggesting this during the Austrian practice this year. Hamilton stated he had been behind his teamate here in previous years and that he was checking the data to see where he was losing time, corner by corner he said he was improving using that data.

        The last year and a half Hamilton has been mighty in quali and dominated. He can do this because he can find ‘new’ time from a track whereas I believe Rosberg can’t and can only use that new found time to his benefit from Hamilton’s data. Austria was an exception until now, where Hamilton reversed the formula and used Rosberg’s data so it shows he is getting to be an even better driver. Hamilton of old would have said I don’t need to look at his data as I’m the best. Now he is a more rounded treble world champion he has realised every little helps.

        Even if Rosberg was better at quali ( which he is clearly not ) then his race craft should put him in good stead? Not at all, Hamilton time and time again shows his superior race craft. Most often the only time Rosberg manages to get ahead is when Hamilton has mechanical problems.

        There are so many other drivers on the grid that could do wonders in the Merc car. Rosberg’s place in reality is supposed to be a number two even though Merc don’t wish to publicly acknowledge this fact. His crashes into his teamate due to a lack of race craft either by accident or otherwise make this very clear.

        Button would be a good support driver to Hamilton and would bring in a season of one two’s for Merc. Even the young German driver Wehrlein as another has suggested would be a better choice. Rosberg has been compromised because of his ambition to be WDC at all costs. He will not achieve this when in the same team as Hamilton and will simply damage Mercs success in his failed pursuit by causing crashes and disharmony within the team. Merc need a stable level headed number two to get the maximum results and I feel Button would do just that for the team.

        1. Total agarre!

        2. Total agree!

  13. I think Toto is failing as a team boss this season, having best package over there in both cars and drivers, yet failing to set things straight with them…For unknown reason Nico has become #1 driver in the team in 2016, while everybody know that he is no match to Lewis in wheel to wheel battle. In the same car, with same strategy and same other things-Lewis will win in 99% over Nico.
    Now imagine suddenly Berger becoming focal point in McLaren over Senna, back in the day. I`m sure on the next day Ron will be demoted and put in the soul asylum…

    1. Wish Brawn didnt retire… he was able to see this kind of frictions miles away…. and stop them from happening

  14. Seems to be no mention of Vettel’s incident in the (otherwise comprehensive) article?

  15. Good for U Lewis showing that tyrant of Rosberg what is what. Excellent race by Lewis and made this race amazing for me. Go Lewis!!!!! Enjoy the win and don’t listen to the haters or dream killers.

  16. lockup (@)
    4th July 2016, 0:33

    I can’t think of any team orders that would prevent Monaco 14, Spa 14, Barca 16 and now Spielberg 16. What they need is a driver less spoiled, with less sense of entitlement and less instinct to cheat when something is happening he doesn’t like. If they give him this 2-year contract they’ll only have themselves to blame. The problem is not ‘racing’ at all, it’s their own timidity in persisting with Rosberg.

    Apart from the hit to the brand and the fact that it won’t work, Ron can tell them that, even in 07, team orders hit motivation, and we only have to look at Massa 2010 or Kvyat now to see the effect that has.

    So I hope behind the scenes they’re thinking a bit more clearly than the pc verbiage in front of the camera would suggest.

  17. It is a shame that everobody is speaking only of Mercedes drivers race incident and forget the great race of Pascal Wehrlein, from last to 10 in a Manor car!!!

    1. Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta)
      4th July 2016, 8:31

      Pascal’s performance was extremely impressive and a highlight of the race. It was a very methodical fightback, and the best the Manor could do. He (and all of Manor) should be very proud of themselves – they’ve needed this point so much, for morale as much as for the 10th place they now occupy.

    2. Agreed, was fantastic.

  18. Kieth, I understand the reporting on facts part of your articles that you do.. but you also have a bit of analysis in there, which I understand is your opinion. And since it is your opinion, it means we don’t have to agree with it right? OK.. the part where you said Hamilton had no chance of catching rosberg if they both did the one stop… I am going to have to disagree with that. Hamilton had bucket loads of pace in his tyres. He was pacing himself behind Rosberg who would be the one going for the two stop. It was evident that Rosberg was pushing and his tyre life was going. Actually Hamilton was doing fastest lap after fastest lap as the fuel burned off, and in short order Rosberg was only 0.6 seconds up the road and struggling. That lap 54 was the time Hamilton chose to attack, that was the end of tyre life for Nico – 40 racing laps on the soft. There was no way Nico could defend if they both did the one stopper. An easy win for Hamilton if the race ran without meddling from Toto.

    1. @david-beau

      He was pacing himself behind Rosberg who would be the one going for the two stop. It was evident that Rosberg was pushing and his tyre life was going.

      Looking at their lap times it’s clear that on the occasions Hamilton did push to reduce the gap and got within DRS range he didn’t have enough of a performance advantage to attempt a pass.

      Hamilton was doing fastest lap after fastest lap as the fuel burned off

      No he wasn’t – Rosberg was faster on seven of the nine laps before Hamilton pitted.

      As Hamilton’s tyres became more worn and less fresh relative to Rosberg’s his ability to get close to his team mate in the slipstream was only ever going to decrease. Making a second stop was definitely his best chance to get ahead.

      1. Perhaps traffic was the reason for the disparity in lap times.

  19. Just a thought: One reason Toto and Niki might be annoyed more than usual is that the logistical situation is going to be very tight over the next few races. Lewis will need a new PU before too long and now the folks in the garage have to make major repairs and testing over Nico’s car. The crews are already getting stressed out.

  20. Piyush (@square-route)
    4th July 2016, 7:28

    Welcome to F1.

    Here what matters are the tyre strategies, tyre management and pit stop timing. Avoid racing, focus on the above three and you might actually win this if your tyres don’t burst open..

    Scroll through this entire post above once again. This review of the Austrian GP is filled with how they used different tyres, tried to undercut and lost time in pit stops. Infact as soon as one tried to race, an accident happened which will demotivate from trying to do any such thing further.

    Unlucky is all what I can say here.

  21. This headline should read – “Hamilton wins, but Rosberg pays the price of not being able to race Lewis cleanly”

  22. Tony Mansell
    4th July 2016, 9:43

    They are so greedy at Mercedes !

    On another point I don’t understand why the coverage switched to 5th vs 6th ( a red bull funnily enough) on lap 64 and didn’t return to Lewis hunting down Nico till lap 68/9. We’ve waited an age for a 1st v 2nd shoot out at the end of a GP and they spend 4 of those laps off screen.

    It was like the bad old days of the 80s when the producer would follow a local favourite trundling round as an epic battle was relayed by the commentary team with no corresponding pictures.

    Nearly ruined it. But not quite thankfully..

    1. Yes I noticed that as well , at least a couple of laps just focused on the Red Bull trundling round when the action was obviously up front. I was shouting at the screen as it was totally frustrating and so obvious why. Until that point I had not noticed any bias from the directing in any GP I could remember. This was obvious even to me. Shameful F1.

    2. Completely agree, i was fuming. Watching cars just being wheeled into the garage, watching a car lapping on its own, while there is an intense battle going on for the lead with a few laps to go.

  23. If Rosberg didn’t got a brake-by-wire failure, and held off Hamilton on the last lap, the finish would not be the insanest finish ever in Formula One history, it would end like Monaco ’92.

  24. At least Mercedes was in the picture again during a race.
    Last races we only saw them at start and finish.

    I believe with all the accidents between Lewis and Nico there is more going on then meets the eye.
    I think Nico will be gone because the rivalry is going out of hand.
    Nico cannot handle Lewis and that feeling of being powerless to stop Lewis drives Nico crazy (as we saw).

  25. People are being too tough on Rosberg after the crash. In Japan last year Hamilton was on the inside and Rosberg was on the outside. Hamilton gave no room and drove Rosberg off the track. Only for Rosberg taking avoiding action, there would have been a big crash. In the US grand prix, the same thing happened. Again Hamilton was on the inside and Rosberg was on the outside. Again Hamilton drove Rosberg off the track and Rosberg had to avoid a collision. In Canada this year, Hamilton was on the inside and Rosberg was on the outside. Again Hamilton drove Rosberg off the track. Each time Rosberg had to react to avoid Hamilton. In Austria though Rosberg had the inside and Hamilton was on the outside. Instead of Hamilton using the large Tarmac run off area and avoiding a collision, he decided to turn in on Rosberg and damage his car. Hamilton should have known Rosberg was still there and he should have taken avoiding action.

  26. They should just append to their contracts…

    Every time they touch teammate on track 5% yearly bonus is substracted.

    20 touches per season and they can drive for free.

  27. My impression of the race was Lewis thinking: ‘So that’s the game you want to play? Well we’ll just see about that!’

  28. I think the problem inside Mercedes is that they cannot control both their drivers. The team can control only 1 of their drivers – and it’s Nico. Rosberg is a great team player. Everything goes wrong when Nico starts to bare his teeth. After the collision between Rosberg and Hamilton on the last lap of the race in Austria Totto Wolff was terribly disappointed. Instead of a guaranteed 1-2 the team almost got the second double DNF this season. Wolff even threatens to introduce team orders. But Mercedes have already used team orders: this season in Monaco Rosberg was told to let Hamilton through. And Nico obeyed. Moreover after the race Rosberg said that was the right decision to make.

    What about Lewis? The Brit doesn’t ‘like’ team orders and I don’t think he will obey any orders. He is here [in F1] to win no matter what the price is. Well, actually nobody can blame Lewis for that. He is talented, quick, impertinent. He is the triple world champion for God’s sake. He sets himself above the team and above his teammate. He can do whatever he wants, the team will always find excuses for his actions. After all people don’t worship Patrese, Barrichello, Coulthard or Berger. Team players don’t win the championships. But people do worship Senna, Schumacher, Prost and Vettel.

    Probably this season is the last chance for Nico Rosberg to join the Hall of Fame. And the only way to do so is to continue to fight with Lewis, with the team, to continue to ‘bare his teeth’. He has no time and real opportunities to start all over again in any other team. There are no vacancies and every team already has their lead driver.

    It’s good that Nico fought with Lewis in Austria. He lost that battle, he even got a penalty for his actions afterwards. But it doesn’t matter. To keep fighting is the only way to stay ahead in the championship. And if Nico lets the Monaco situation repeat, or if he cannot stand the outside pressure (like we saw after Spa’14), or if he lets Lewis force him out of the track (remember Canada’16 or USA’15)… Well if let any of these happen he’ll lose the championship long before the last Grand Prix of the season.

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