Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2016

Was Hamilton right to hold Rosberg up?

Debates and PollsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton drew criticism for holding up Nico Rosberg during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in his efforts to win the world championship.

Despite holding up Rosberg in the opening laps of the race and for most of the final stint, Hamilton was unable to cost his team mate any places and Rosberg won the title.

Was Hamilton’s driving the only option left to him to win the title? Or should drivers never intentionally interfere in a rival’s race? Cast your vote below.

For

Hamilton’s approach was entirely predictable and his tactics should have come as no surprise to anyone – including his team.

As he correctly pointed out he did not break any rules and did not drive in a dangerous manner. The stewards did not consider his driving worth investigating.

Against

Hamilton’s tactics were unsporting as he denied Rosberg the chance to drive a normal race.

In doing so he repeatedly disobeyed instructions from his team despite having benefited from such orders in the past, such as when Rosberg was told to let him by during the Monaco Grand Prix.

I say

I’m especially interested to see the results of this poll as I hadn’t anticipated there would be the kind of criticism of Hamilton’s approach which has arisen, including from ex-F1 drivers.

This was Hamilton’s only realistic way of winning the championship on Sunday. Had Hamilton driven off to win while his team mate cruised to another easy second place Hamilton would have looked utterly foolish.

I think there’s also an element of Hamilton being criticised more because his tactics failed than because he tried them. He came close to pulling it off, however – Rosberg only kept his position over Kimi Raikkonen at the first round of pit stops by a few fractions of a second, and had that gone the other way things could have turned out quite differently.

The idea that what Hamilton did was ‘unsporting’ does not resonate with me. The sport is Formula One, the ultimate goal is the world championship, and Hamilton’s tactics were a legitimate pursuit of that end.



You say

Do you agree Hamilton’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix tactics were correct? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

[poll id=”685″]

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – your verdict

Share your views on the championship conclusion. What did you think of the race, and who was the best driver last weekend? Vote here before the final race polls of the year close later this week:

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172 comments on “Was Hamilton right to hold Rosberg up?”

  1. To repeat what I said before… Hamilton knew that in a normal race he was going to lead a 1-2, which was not enough. He gave the race 40-odd laps to play out and see if any mechanical issues became apparent and then had to take it into his own hands.

    As long as his driving was safe (ie: not stopping/swerving etc), which it was, then he’s at perfect liberty to dictate his own pace. If it was too slow then Rosberg should have overtaken.

    Astonished at comments from people like Mansell/Stewart. Frankly, I’d suggest that Hamilton’s tactics did not go far enough in backing up Rosberg and he could have done more.

    1. This. All day long!

      1. How about “this”. Hamilton said, only days before the race, he will not be playing this game, and will try and win by as much as possible, no matter what. His word is obviously not worth anything. Maybe not “unsporting”, but still pathetic. And definitely not team work. If I were Mercedes, I would sack him on the spot, so he can show us how great he is in another car. Very disappointed with Hamilton! Great driver, selfish and arrogant personality.

        1. Good grief Man, get a grip! You don’t advertise your game plan to your main rival (which in this case, is his own team-mate) before the race.

          1. +1 it does seem some people need to watch more sport full stop to realise this type of gamesmanship is normal!

            When the stakes are this high, I was also surprised Hamilton played it quite so fairly!

          2. I agree, you don’t. But reiteration you won’t do something, going in so much detail, and then doing it so blatantly was uncomfortable for me to watch. Maybe it’s just me, but I felt like Martin Brundle wasn’t very impressed either.
            And personally for me, a true legend would have tried something different, targeting their rival directly. Try and taunt them, trick them to get a pass, then make them end up being trapped in a bad position where they have to lose speed. Throw out some of those sandbags and try and race it out.

          3. Exactly @ijw1. We all praise Muhammad Ali for his “rope a dope” tactics against George Foreman, Hamilton was doing the same to Rosberg in my book. Ahead of the fight all Ali said was that he was too fast and he’d “dance” all through the fight. He didn’t and Foreman fell for it. Hamilton said ahead of the race he wouldn’t back Rosberg up…when he did it took Rosberg by surprise (he said as much after the race).

          4. @ijw1: LOL. Are we trying to pretend that backing Rosberg up (something that people had been talking about for the past 2-3 GPs) was a super-sekrit strategy? That it was something Lewis had to keep quiet so he could spring a surprise?

            No.

            Nico was well aware that this was Hamilton’s only chance of getting the title and was prepared for it no matter what he said. Hamilton didn’t own up to his plans at the press conference because he realised it doesn’t look that good in terms of sportmanship and he wanted to keep his card clean until he felt he had no alternative. And no, @geemac, you can’t compare this to rope-a-dope – there was, at least, no subterfuge during the race itself.

            This was about Lewis trying to keep up a facade, but obviously, when the chips are down, he’s ready to do whatever it takes. Fair enough, and Nico certainly made some maneuvers in 2014 that went far beyond that line. But Lewis can no longer pretend he’s just interested in winning the race.

          5. @ijw1 “You win at the slowest possible speed. Well, guess what, Hamilton did just that”

            I think that’s taken out of context. Hamilton wasn’t even racing.

        2. So too should Mercedes when prior to the race the said that they will all both to race unhindered for the championship. I’m more disappointed with Mercedes and Nico for his proposal, instead of just going for the overtake. What ever is said, Mercedes influenced the championship in Nico’s favour that day and you sure do have a lot of hate for Lewis, like so many others.

          1. That’s bull. Mercedes did let them race, and all they did was ask Hamilton to race. His job is to race, not to sandbag. The team has interests too (race results, prestige), and the team pays him his salary. But nice try, trying to turn it around on the team. Hamilton doesn’t know how to lose, and evidently, neither can a lot of his fans.

          2. @bobec What do the greats like Fangio, Lauda, Prost say. You win at the slowest possible speed. Well, guess what, Hamilton did just that.

    2. I know there is one former (British?) driver who is always critical of Hamilton, however I forget who it is. In any case, that driver’s opinion can be disregarded, I think.

      On the other hand, how is Nigel Mansell’s stance towards Hamilton in general? I remember him being quite positive during the British GPs towards Hamilton. If so, that would make Mansell’s current opinion an unbiased one.

      1. Lol @phylyp, the former British driver was too good a driver to really forget, but I agree, when he says something about/related to Hamilton, that is the best one can do.

        I think Mansell is maybe a bit biased because he’s a friend of Rosberg, pere, and because he has (to me at least) some blinkers on about how much better F1 was in his time. And Vettel is a German, and moreover never seemed to gel well with Hamilton (how often too, has Alonso compared Hamilton – who he drove with – favourably to Vettel – I think there might be some gaming between those three). But I don’t know, in the end they are also only human, despite being F1 champions.

        1. @bosyber – I didn’t mean forget the former driver altogether! :-) Just ignore his opinions knowing he’s always had it out for Hamilton. Btw, who is that driver, I don’t remember?

          Thank you for shedding light on the Mansell aspect, that was good to know.

          1. ahhhh do you mean the one who always shoehorns “in my day…” into every single interview he does?

          2. Do you mean three times Formula 1 world champion sir Jacky Stewart, who always seems at least slightly sour, if not disapproving when it is about Hamilton @phylyp, or someone else?

          3. @bosyber – yep, I think it is Sir Jackie Stewart. A quick Google search of his name and Hamilton throws up a bunch of opinion pieces where he is critical of Hamilton, and a few of those are the ones I remembered from the past (the “lifestyle is damaging” comments and not moving to Mercedes). Thank you.

    3. Hamilton’s tactics made the occasion of Rosberg’s win more memorable. The real question is why with all the pending advantages of DRS didn’t Rosberg make a go of racing Hamilton?

      Also you have to consider the Malaysian race where no one on the pit wall spotted Hamilton redlining or that his car was about to fail. With that kind of “bad luck” how could Hamilton drive a normal race? Can you imagine the samething happening to make the points victory even more decisive? What would everyone have said then, 10/9 to Rosberg and greatly deserved?

      In my opinion the team should not have been issuing orders, they should have simply left the two drivers to it. They already had the championship and regardless of the results they would also have a champion.

    4. Agree it was fair play but should have been done in each of the last four races or earlier in the season. Then Hamilton would have had time to perfect it a little better (i.e) learn to make space once Vettel closed so as to break the DRS for Rosberg and leave Vettel room to pass Rosberg, and better odds of the tactics working in one of the races. As Toto Wolff said, a precedent has now been set and in future, any time dueling teammates in a dominant car are in 1-2 at the front, the door is open for these tactics. The team will probably try to step in with some internal rules to try to prevent this, but as seen at Red Bull, at McLaren and now Mercedes, the drivers don’t always adhere when it is against their own interest and the rules probably will limit how much the teams can interfere. I like it as it adds another element of excitement/drama to the racing and as long as rules aren’t being broken and there is no dangerous driving involved (I did not see either) it should be allowed. I would rather see this tactic bunching up the field and giving others a chance at the win than ex. a safety car brought out when a yellow would have sufficed.

    5. He had to wait until the tail end of the race because if he had done so earlier he would have been undercut. To me this is a viable strategy in any race, at any point in the season, versus any competitor, including your teammate, when they are a tital rival.

    6. no wonder he is the most disliked driver in F1.

  2. I think that Hamilton trying as hard as he could validates Rosbergs Championship and his fantastic drive in the last race. If Hamilton had gone easy on him it would have been a real anticlimax to the season.

    I was very impressed with how Rosberg handled the immense pressure.

    A worthy champion.

    1. @kelsier I draw somewhat different conclusions as to what Rosberg’s last performance validates:
      1. Instead of showing the world that he’s a better racer by winning races, he decided to settle for finishing second in the last 4 races. This essentially means he thinks it’s absolutely OK winning the championship through teammate’s unreliability. I don’t consider that a champion’s quality. I would certainly feel a hollow victory if I was Rosberg.
      2. Taking pressure is all good if you’ve got inferior car or damage, but winning is what we should expect a champion to do. Winning them all is hard for anybody but let’s not praise Rosberg for being this slow in the last race. I’m not even going to mention how many years he had in F1 to deal with pressure, what Max is doing is more pressure for his age / experience in my opinion.
      3. The last race highlights the kind of car Rosberg had, that Ferrari on much newer and faster tyres with Ham pushing Ros back, couldn’t overtake him. It again highlights how important reliability was this season.

      1. HAM lovers, you cannot have it both way and still make sense. Once you say that ROS’s calculated driving just score enough points is not champion-worthy, than you say driving slow to become champion (as HAM did) is smart.

        This year nobody diverged from racing spirit as much as HAM, ROS’s “safe driving” pales in comparison.

        HAM looks better in my eyes as someone who lost, in part, due to reliability problems than he would if he won thanks to such tricks rather than racing.

        1. Hamilton’s slow driving was smart and competitive. Rosberg’s calculated driving just to score enough points was smart, but not competitive. See the difference?

      2. Hamilton narrowly won his first championship by finishing 4 in the last race of that season. Does that mean Hamilton was an unworthy champion? Does that mean that Rosberg is a better champion since he finished 2 places higher?

        1. You hugely miss the point with this statement. Hamilton won that season by trying to finish as high as possible.

          Put it this way, if it were the other way around and Hamilton was behind Rosberg and didn’t need to pass him for the win, do you think he’d have sat back and cruised to the title? For that matter do you think Alonso or Vettel would? Because I’ll put my money on them all going for the win and not cruising along asking the team if they’ll get him to move over to make it easier for him.

          Rosberg sounded pathetic at that point and desperate because he knows he’ll never win the title on ability alone and in fact even suggested that fact in post race interviews

    2. I agree, Rosberg drove well under pressure (after all he had everything to loose). Hamilton had no choice but to back up the pack as he is in F1 to win. It showed immense driving skill from hamilton to manage to do that for so long and it almost paid off. If Verstappen had not spun at the start then it may all have been much different.

      What I find abhorrent is Merc asking him to effectively relinquish the championship. If there was a chance neither could win the championship then I could understand it, but the fact is that no matter what happened in that race, one of their drivers would be WDC and they already had the Constructors trophy. Hamiltons tactic turned what would have been a very dull race into and epic battle which few will forget, and makes Rosbergs championship more valid.

      I actually though Hamilton handled the radio calls very well as if it were me they would have had to break out the vettel bleep machine!

  3. Lewis Hamilton’s job is to try to win the world championship himself, not help Nico Rosberg. He had to do it. Rosberg handled it perfectly nonetheless. Hamilton threw everything in his bag of tricks at Nico and he dealt with it.

  4. spafrancorchamps
    29th November 2016, 12:16

    Everyone has got the right to their opinion of course. But in my opinion, the people who are criticising Hamilton for his tactics, are the ones that aren’t fan of racing. I notice that they are mainly the same folks who are criticising Verstappen for attacking Rosberg. Their opinion is that drivers should not involve in the championship battle. To be honest, I am happy they are not the ones running this sport. Because the sport would be even more boring than it already has become.

  5. I think the against argument is flawed “denied Rosberg the chance to drive a normal race.” There was nothing preventing Rosberg from making an overtake for the lead if he wished, if anything it was made easier rather than denied. I’m genuinely disappointed that he didn’t go for the pass considering they were supposedly going so slow, would have loved to see that result..

    Regardless, agreed given the outcome as was correctly pointed out.

  6. I fully support Hamilton’s approach, even if I didn’t enjoy seeing it.

    It was quite possibly the only clean and legal way to improve his shot at the title, given that both cars made a clean getaway and Rosberg didn’t experience any issues with his car or other cars through the course of the race.

    His execution was also perfect – although slow, he did it in a smooth and consistent manner, instead of anything silly like brake checking or abrupt blocking – so his moves were totally legal and not dangerous at all. I think only a few drivers on the grid – Alonso, for example – could pull of such a nice slowing down manoeuvre with such aplomb.

    I appreciate him for limiting his actions to purely clean and legal moves.

    1. Also – I was earlier neutral on the point of the team asking Hamilton to hurry it up. However, the more I think of it, the more I believe the team erred with their interference.

      In the interest of fair racing, this was a win/1-2 finish they could have – and should have – afforded to give up.

      The team’s argument was that Vettel threatened the race win. If that risk had materialized that would mean Hamilton was second or lower, then Rosberg could afford to slip back all the way down to 6th to still keep the title (i.e. ahead of the Force Indias), or continued to lock horns with Hamilton.

      If Vettel overtook Rosberg but Hamilton zoomed off into the distance, then Rosberg could apply pressure on Vettel to keep him moving (even if not overtaking) – Vettel would have no incentive to hold up Rosberg the way Hamilton was.

      1. Consider a situation where Hamilton is in Rosberg’s position in the championship at the beginning of Abu Dhabi GP. That is he only has to finish second whereas Rosberg leading the race needs at least a couple of cars in between to win the championship. We cannot discount the possibility of Rosberg trying a same tactic as Hamilton did. That is why I don’t see any fault in what Hamilton did – take a shot at the only possible way to win the championship.
        Also, given the way either drivers race, I doubt Hamilton would have settled for a second place finish behind teammate who is backing him up to the third and fourth place cars in the above scenario.

    2. If you appreciated Hamiltons execution of the slow driving you should see Schumacher in the 1999 Sepang race slowing Hakkinen down. Was a master class that makes Hamilton look like an amateur!

      1. @peppermint-lemon – Thanks for that pointer, did you mean this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I75b0hemHNc ?

        Just seen it – very nice, particularly to do it at the Sepang circuit. Its this sort of racing (and Coulthard’s attack) that have really been neutered by DRS.

        I was also surprised to hear Martin Brundle providing commentary even back then – I thought he was racing in the 90s.

        1. It was a shame coulthard got through at that point, though later in the race Schumacher was incredibly clever, by slowing down Mika on apexes and all sorts. It almost reduced Mika to tears after the race.

          Brundle retired in 1996 I think.

      2. your comment doesn’t really make sense to me. Schumacher is a proven factor in ability, but in the light of Ferraris carte blache to cheat, ban opponent inventions, fia backing and having your Nr 2 backup your opponent I would back Ham over Schumi.

        1. Says the person backing the guy involved in the spying scandal at McLaren and cheating against Alonso by blocking him in qualifying the same year, good one.

          1. Let’s not forget Lie-gate as well. No one is clean in this sport!

          2. You got it wrong @peppermint-lemon: Alonso blocked Hamilton un Hungary qualifying in 2007, following orders from Ron Dennis. He got grid penalties for that.
            You don’t like Hamilton, but don’t make things up!

          3. Forgot: Alonso was involved in spygate, not Hamilton.

      3. You should see Schumacher slowing Hamilton down Monza 2011, Schumacher eventually let him pass after team orders! orders that came from McLaren!

      4. Most people really refuses to thi k..what happened to Hamilton engine in Malaysia… Ask Mercedes..they know..would Rosberg still hav won the championship if not for Hamiltons engine failures? Clearly the true chanp is Hamilton…long live Lewis Hamilton!

  7. Strongly agree. No way in a normal race would have any of the 20 other cars beaten Rosberg in a straight fight. So Lewis had to try something. It was legal. And can any other driver have really looked in the mirror that night and honestly felt they would not have done the same thing?

    Plus, it’s not like it’s not been seen before in top level motorsport. We saw Jorge Lorenzo in the Mercedes garage this weekend. Look how at the 2013 Valencian MotoGP how he got track position by pole and a good start (like Hamilton this weekend), then backed the pack up. Like Lewis, he needed his title rival Marc Marquez to be outside the podium positions if he won. But no way was anyone on their pace that year except for Dani Pedrosa (Marquez’s teammate but he didn’t care much that weekend anyway).

    So anyway, for the first third of the race, he tried to control the race relatively slowly up front. Indeed, you had satelite riders like Bradley Smith, Cal Crutchlow, Alvaro Bautista in the lead group, plus a then off-form Valentino Rossi in there too. But it didn’t work, since nobody could get by Marquez in P3, and Pedrosa kept passing Lorenzo, and only did Jorge pass back by being very sharp and risky. But nobody complained in that paddock then… I know Lorenzo and Marquez were in different factories, whereas Hamilton and Rosberg are not, but why was Hamilton so “unsporting” if Lorenzo wasn’t?

    I wouldn’t have been surprised had Lewis tried to pick Jorge’s brain on the issue, since the scenarios were similar in many aspects, plus it’s the only real example of this happening at top World Championship level.

    Overall, you have to do what you have to do, within the rule book to try to get the big prize. Simple as. It’s a bit like the Spirit of Cricket. They’re only moral grounds/conventions. But that only things that matter are the laws of the game. Same in F1 in particular. I would have done the same. I dare say, any top level motorsport champion would have too.

    1. Interestingly Mark Webber and DC interviewed Jorge on C4 and he bought up that race in 2013. He didn’t have any issue with that approach.

      1. Actually Jorge said Hamilton was thinking of himself and not of the team, he said ‘this is not good’. Then Mark pointed out to Jorge he did the same thing to Marques in 2013……, oh yes that’s right says Jorge, I started doing it from the first lap !

        https://youtu.be/IWQoq6v7WYA

        This is exactly the issue I have with past F1 drivers too, they have short memories of what it’s like to be in a championship and forget that they would have probably done exactly the same thing as Hamilton did.

        1. Jorge abandoned it after a while and won the race as it was pointless!

  8. I’ve stated my opinions all over this site since Sunday. Suffice to say, I strongly agree, and would have been disappointed had Hamilton not tried this. In fact, I’d have lost a lot of respect for him as a racer.

  9. Slightly disagree, though as it was pretty much the only way he’d win the title barring technical failure I’m surprised people like Rosberg and the Mercedes pit wall didn’t expect him to do it. I expected him to do it, and given I don’t think there’s anything in the rules that says he can’t do it, why not try? That said, I don’t really agree with it.

  10. Hamilton turned another potential Abu Dhabi dullfest into a thriller, increased the value of Rosberg’s championship title, showed that F1 is not always about being on the limit (Pirelli should be paying him for that) and gave fans another reason to be thankful to Mercedes, who could easily have avoided this by not keeping two ‘roosters’ in the team.

    So yeah, he should only be praised by everyone for what he did on Sunday.

    1. Well said, I agree completely with that @girts

  11. The criticism baffles me too. It actually demanded more skill than going as fast as possible since he had to constantly judge the distance to Rosberg, not too far ahead or too close. At any point Rosberg could have tried to pass. The fact that he didn’t means Hamilton jusged that distance absolutely perfectly. Hamilton was in front from the start on merit, securing fastest qualifying time and getting away cleanly. I’m struggling to find any rationale for criticism beyond the fact Mercedes wanted a 1-2, or wanted Rosberg to win the championship (take your pick). But that’s no basis for anyone else declaring Hamilton was unsporting. His relation with his team is his business alone.

    1. Part of the backlash is connected to how people feel that they are more deserving of his place, you can hear it by the amount of “he should consider himself lucky” comments. What’s lucky about being him and achieving everything he has?

  12. My view on this matter:

    Hamilton: I think it was reasonable from Hamilton to try this sort of strategy as that was his last chance to win the championship. He drove fair and within rules, so I don’t think he did anything wrong.

    Rosberg: Under enormous pressure, but nevertheless had a great race. He kept Vettel and Verstappen behind him and didn’t try anything stupid or unfair against Hamilton. I have to admire his performance.

    Mercedes: It was reasonable from them to urge Hamilton drive faster as Hamilton was risking the 1-2 (or even victory) for Mercedes. I don’t think it’s reasonable to assume Mercedes should’ve been happy with their driver trying to have their other car lose positions – even though the drivers’ championship was at stake.

    Regarding relations between Mercedes and Hamilton: I think both the team and driver did what was reasonable from their own perspective. However, we don’t really know what kind of inner discipline Mercedes has and whether these sort of tactics were discussed before the race. Hamilton did disobey an instruction from the team and it’s now between Mercedes and Hamilton to decide how they’re going to handle this. I’d probably let this one go, since Hamilton’s actions were understandable and the season is over. But as I said, I know little about Mercedes’ inner discipline.

    1. very fair assessment of the situation, especially your point on assuming Mercedes to be happy with anything other than a 1-2.
      Other comments where it refers to Mercedes can afford to give up the win / 1-2 etc. Logic is very flawed – Mercedes won by almost 300 points, by my calculations, they could have afforded to sit out at least 7 races, win the championship(s) and save money by not fielding a team in those races.

      1. Exactly. Their holier-than-thou attitude on this is ridiculous. They just wanted Nico to have this one.

  13. He was completely entitled to. There is nothing in the rulebook saying that you cannot, so it was fine from that stance. It’s not a particularly pleasant thing to do, but then again, that isn’t what winning World Championships is about.

    I don’t know whether I would have done the same in that situation, because I have never had such circumstance presented to me. But I would certainly consider that, but would never consider taking a rival out on purpose.

    Now whether Mercedes were right to interfere or not is an entirely different debate in itself.

  14. I’m sorry but Toto’s throwaway comment when it was put to him that Hamilton had taken on board Christian Horner’s comments pre race “maybe he should go and drive for him” just says it all. Mercedes wanted Nico to win this championship to round out a dominant era for them and to ensure that every person in the team was a championship winner from 2014 – 2016, nothing malicious and they didn’t orchestrate it except for maybe the last 10 laps of Abu Dhabi but they very clearly wanted this symmetry and it worked out for them. I would love to see Hamilton and Verstappen at Red Bull but of course it will never happen.

    1. I should clarify, TRIED to orchestrate the last 10 laps of AD.

      1. Everybody except the mechanics who moved from Nico to Lewis. They lost 2014 and 2015 with Nico and then lost 2016 with Lewis.

        1. Ha! This is true.

    2. That comment from Wolff really irked me, too. The whole thing certainly seemed like Mercedes were happy that the order this year was settled and they didn’t want any deviation. I’m not suggesting they spent the year engineering a Rosberg WDC, but it certainly seemed towards the back end of the season that they liked the idea of it and steered it that way, albeit legally and subtly.

      1. Mercedes is a high performing team in F1, the best team for the last three seasons. That doesn’t come easy, you have to work flat out every single day to stay on top. That goes for hundreds and hundreds of members of that team.

        One way to make sure a team disintegrates is to accept anarchy, let everybody just do what they want to do. That would really fix the problem of Mercedes being to dominant.

        That”s the reason the management at Mercedes cannot accept Hamilton making up his own rules within the team. Sure they understand why he did what he did, but they fear the precedence his actions might set for other members of the team. Why shouldn’t Rosberg or others just do what suits them the next time the managemens instructions doesn’t suit them? That’s the problem, and the reason we’ll probably see some form of punishment for Hamilton. It’s all about maintaining the unity within the team.

  15. I too agree that LH did what he had to do. He was in a tough spot of having to do that while having no option but to also win the race, which is what the team encouraged him to do. I don’t blame him for playing the only hand he had.

    1. @robbie With all due respect, I just cannot understand how you can be in such denial. The team were not encouraging Hamilton to win the race (he really doesn’t need any encouragement there), they were trying to stop him from endangering Rosbergs championship win.

      Come on my friend, I know you are not a Hamilton supporter, but lets get real!

      1. Perhaps better worded, they were encouraging him to not get passed by SV. At the same time I think they had every right to also protect Nico. Why wouldn’t they? He’s part of the team too. Why should they have worked with LH to an extreme, which is what it would have taken, to screw Nico? Nico was holding his own anyway.

        Those who believe LH has been conspired against are naturally going to assume this was more of that. But as I say, getting real, how much should they have been expected to hang Nico out to dry on Sunday? Assuming they never did conspire against LH, which I believe is the case, why would they now conspire against Nico? To make up for LH unreliability that is just part of the game?

  16. When you’re paid over 30 million euros a year to drive he best car in the world, the least you could do is listen to your boss.

    1. Hmm, except why pay anyone that much? Maybe because such talent is actually hard to find, and the people risking themselves are the drivers?

      It’s really an empty complaint unless you think blind obedience is necessary or good. Even team managers will admit the driver is often right, and the team wrong, about a lot of issues. For example, only Hamilton knew how much pace he was keeping back, and that was essential to any assessment or whether he (and thus Mercedes) could actually lose the race. And remember that was the issue Mercedes passed on to Hamilton via radio, that he could lose the race (not that Rosberg could be caught, given that they knew full well that Hamilton wanted him to be).

    2. That is an old world point of view. In reality Bosses pay people better than themselves to do jobs they can’t do. If you hire an expert then you need to trust them and give them the means to progress. I would not hesitate to have a full blown argument with any boss about things that they have hired me to do and lets face it, more often than not the bosses are not particularly bright and rarely know what they are doing. If they overrode me I would simply walk out and leave them to destroy their project.

      You don’t hire a world champion driver for £30m and then tell him that for no good reason he should give up the championship. You could hire a kid from GP2 to do that. You hire a driver like hamilton to win world championships and that is what he was trying to do. It also helped Mercs brand as both their cars were in an intense battle for much of the race rather than a bore fest up front.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        29th November 2016, 18:11

        @paeschli How many times has Lewis made a better call than Mercedes or rightly questioned their decision?

        1. A number of times actually.

  17. Hamilton did what he had to do (the only thing he could do to influence the championship), and he did it cleverly (no zigzag, no braking in the middle of corners, etc.) That’s racing: that was tough, a bit vicious, but fair.
    It has nothing to do with, for example, what Senna did on Prost at Suzuka in 1990.

  18. Every driver would have done what Hamilton did. If they say they won’t, I wouldn’t believe it.
    We have seen it in many categories, Indycar, Motogp etc.
    Championships are not gifted, they are earned, as Nico did this sunday.

    Thrilling end to what would else been a boring race. And Hamilton showing he’s a winner!
    Didn’t hear Nico complain either, pretty sure he would have done the same.

  19. I suspect eve he know to wasn’t the sporting thing to do: he spent the whole week saying he would never do it.
    But for me that will always be debatable: I choose to focus on how that strategy reflected itself on Hamilton’s interaction with the team.

    This team has rules that dictate how drivers interact with each other and the team and how certain scenarios are to be felt with. This particular scenario was explicitly discussed with Hamilton. He chose to disrespect the team, the 1500 souls that worked day and night to provide him the best car and 2 world titles and, ultimately, those who pay his 30 million + salary.

    In contrast, Rosberg handed to Hamilton a win in Monaco not because he wanted to but because the team asked it, even if potentially jeopardizing his championship pretensions.

    This is a double standard that is nor fair and I can’t take the side of a driver that expects the advantages of the team’s rules when it’s in his favor and feels he’s entitled to not respect them when it’s convenient.

    Again, it’s not acceptable to put yourself above the rules that the team has in place for it to work in the most, the team that gave him the best car of his career, two titles, the 1500 people working on providing him his car and who pays his salary.

    Hamilton behaved as if they are the ones working for him and not the other way around.

    1. * “I suspect even he knew it wasn’t the sporting thing to do”

      1. Sure, but wasn’t it unsporting of Rosberg to get a pole by ignoring double yellows earlier on in the season? Many other driver’s complained about this too, including Vettel. Wasn’t it also unsporting for Nico to cause two collisions with his team mate in Spain and Austria. I am sure that Mercedes have had discussions about this too with both driver’s but one of them thought he was bigger than the team ?

        1. Rosberg did NOT ignore the waved yellows. He did exactly what the FIA had required drivers to do – to significantly slow down. He did have the luck of only a very short part of his lap being affected by the flag though.

          1. After the race didn’t the FIA reinforce the rules about double yellow flags, which were prior to this only a gentleman’s agreement. However Rosberg knowingly took advantage realising he couldn’t be penalised, whilst all the other drivers slowed down sufficiently and in fact abandoned their laps. The fall out from this is that, drivers must abandon their lap under double yellows and not set a meaningful timed lap, never mind pole position. So yes he did ignore the usual protocol under double yellows and he knew what advantage he would gain from it too. So if he cant abide by such an agreement why should Lewis have to comply with something that is not against the rules, to allow Nico to win the WDC

        2. When Lewis makes a move and Nico moves out of the way to avoid a collision, it’s Lewis being the harder racer.
          When Nico makes a move, where Lewis stands his ground and there is a collision, it’s Racing incident at best, or Nico is being reckless.
          All I am saying is fault in collisions are very subjective, and that’s what most of the coming togethers have been – collisions, not crashes.

    2. “I suspect eve he know to wasn’t the sporting thing to do”

      There was nothing unsporting in what Hamilton did

      “Rosberg handed to Hamilton a win in Monaco not because he wanted to but because the team asked it”

      No he didn’t, he handed him second place. A second place 14 seconds behind the leader. Hamilton turned that into a win. If Rosberg had been leading the race there is no way he would have let Hamilton through, even if they were under pressure from cars behind.

      “He chose to disrespect the team”

      No what was disrespectful was the team basically saying to Hamilton: Let Rosberg win the championship.

      1. I totally agree with your points and would go further to say the Monaco race highlights the point that Nico got preferential treatment this year. If Mercedes were serious about winning as was their point in AD on Lewis driving slowly, they should not have waited until Ricciardo was 14secs ahead to release Lewis. It was done only when they figure that the win was out of reach of Nico and Lewis, but Lewis defied the odds and turned the gifted and struggling 2nd place to a win by going against the team’s strategy to pit for intermediate tires, which allowed him to grab the win. It is what earns Lewis his £30million, but to deny him in his quest for the 2016 WDC was very short-sighted and cruel. The comments by Toto and others is an embarrassment to Mercedes’ “we let them race”.

  20. If the constructors championship hadn’t been decided, I would understand what Mercedes were doing. As it happened, it was absolutely ridiculous.

    To be honest, the question shouldn’t be “was Lewis right to hold up Nico?” – it should be “were Mercedes right to try and stop Lewis fighting for the title?”

    1. Totally agree with you. I guess we were typing at the same time. See 2 posts down!!

      1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
        29th November 2016, 13:40

        That would be a closer poll I think yeah.

        Personally I think MB had no business getting on the radio with the constructors firmly in the bag.

        To keep towing this line that their drivers should prioritise adding 1 more Mercedes win to the tally, above chasing their own championship ambitions, is either deliberately or indeliberately deluded.

        Personally I think it’s the latter, borne from an ambition to have both drivers win WDCs, not for national preference or anything, but just so the record books show that it was a team effort.

        BREAKING NEWS: Sportsman competes to win within rules. Eddie Jordan horrified.

        1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
          29th November 2016, 13:41

          *former -_-

    2. @petebaldwin Or another question could be…’Should Mercedes have screwed Nico with extreme help for LH?’

    3. constructors was assumed before the championship started, and confirmed probably after Race 1 or 2.
      By your logic, Nico had no reason to let Lewis past in Monaco?

  21. I think we can ask this question another way, was Mercedes right to give a team order knowing it could determine the outcome of the world driver’s championship.
    The two drivers had delivered what Mercedes wanted already – a constructor’s championship and also the driver’s too (although before the end of the race it could have been any of their two drivers).
    However Mercedes apparent ethos the whole season was ‘we will let the driver’s race’, but for some reason they didn’t allow this on the last race of the season despite the worst outcome being neither of their cars would win the race.
    Whilst I do think what Lewis did was cheeky, is there any difference between this and an undercut during the pit stops, isn’t it all strategy?

  22. @keithcollantine Hi Keith. I think it would also be interesting if you ran a poll “Was Mercedes right to interfere in the title championship race”.

    As usual, thanks for a great website.

    1. And the answer is H…No. Not only did they make themselves look foolish , they undermined their relationship with their star driver. It seemed like another case ‘ mouth opens before brain thinks’.

    2. As far as we know Mercedes intention was to secure a 1-2 result for the team in Abu Dhabi, that has been their stance since day one and that was the statement given after the race. Second place was indeed in danger of being lost to Sebastian. So, where is this idea of Mercedes wanting to interfere with the championship from? They wanted a 1-2 result.

      So a better question would be ““Was Mercedes right to try and secure a 1-2 result for their team”.

      1. “So, where is this idea of Mercedes wanting to interfere with the championship from?”

        Because a 1-2 guarantees the championship for one of the drivers over the other. At that point they are 100% interfering with the championship

        A better question would actually be “Was Mercedes right to tell one of their drivers to give up on the championship so the other could win it”

    3. Or what would be the bigger story for Mercedes; Lewis Hamilton (unassisted) winning his fourth world championship against impossible odds or Mercedes getting a one two and confirming the inevitable first time wdc for Nico. Surely the former would be a story retold into the next century and great PR for them, whilst many have already forgotten the outcome of the Abu Dhabi gp itself. Alternatively how sensational would it have been for Nico, Vettel and Lewis to fight for the win and 2nd with MV in the mix too. Surely their decision not to allow them to race was not the right one.

  23. I voted for slightly agree only because he’s compromised himself a bit in the future for some possible payback for not listening to his boss!

  24. I strongly agree. I am not a Hamilton fan but I believe he had every right to take a chance at winning the WC.

    Rosberg would have most likely done the exact same.

    Much ado about nothing.

  25. Here I added a ‘slightly’ to my agree vote.
    Hamilton did nothing wrong in driving in way that optimised his chances to win the WDC, whilst staying within the rules. Well done Lewis.

    However, I added a ‘slightly’ as his bosses, the guys who pay his salary, told him repeatedly to do something different. It can’t be right if you do that.

    1. So you don’t ever disagree with your boss?

      I get hired as an expert in my field because my bosses can’t do it themselves. If they want to override me and make me look dumb in the process (after all it would be my name on the work) then they can go jump off a cliff.

      1. dear Lee1, I do sometimes disagree with my boss (shareholders in my case).
        But when I disagree I will argue my POV.
        If they still and repeatedly tell me to do something different, I either obey or quit.

        1. Exactly, and he is hardly going to post a resignation letter off mid race is he?

          1. And he still hasn’t done it!
            I hope you now understand why I added ‘slightly’.

  26. Strongly agree. He’s trying to win the world championship, he’s not having a game of pool down the pub with his mates.

    You can argue back and forth but he’s worked all year to try win the title, that was the last option open to him. Who knows, If Rosberg had completely out driven him all year I think there’d be more reason to deride him for going to such tactics.

    I think some fans forget that this is a sport and in sport you get a lot of competitive people who want to win. This is no different to a team in football going 1 goal up 20 minutes from the end and “parking the bus” yes it isn’t pretty but teams do it to get the results they need.

    What it showed to me (not that I needed it proving but hopefully some of the interview-hunting burkes like Stewart will take form this) is that even though hes a triple world champion and likes to jet all over the world in his spare time, Hamilton still had to do everything in his power to win the championship.

  27. You can’t really fault him for that due to a team that’s unsupportive of his tactics and thus not providing him with all the critical data, but I think Hamilton was a bit to fast in the pit-stop-phases. Had he dropped himself behind Verstappen at/shortly after Verstappens stop and went on a charge after Rosberg was behind a bit more, maybe his chances would have been a slight bit higher.

  28. I suspect quite a lot of the criticism of Hamilton tactics, is due to the fact that HE (Hamilton) was the one using them. If it had been anyone else, there wouldn’t be so much fuss. Hamilton apparently, is held to a different set of “standards”. Odd that. I wonder why?

  29. Yes, Hamilton was right. He should have started 2 races ago with this tactic however…. He has got the drive and the talent but maybe just isn’t clever enough

  30. As usual Lewis brain power was OFF…

    Such tactics were to be used since the beginning of the race to improve its success chances.

    If he had gone for a slow race since the start, defending his position from Rosberg and prevent him to overpass, he would allow Rosberg chasers to pressure the german racer during all race.

    1. He was told and it was confirmed live on TV that is he tried to do it then Merc would pull Nico in first to get the undercut. The moment the last stops were out of they way he knew they couldn’t do anything.

    2. I guess it was a last resort tactic for him.

    3. I’m afraid the team told him that if he tried something like that they would give the undercut to Nico… That’s why Hamilton left it to after the last pitstop, making it even more perverse.

  31. Does the rule book allow it? YES, there’s the answer. If it’s such a bad thing then get a new rule in their, they love to add rules so i’m sure they wouldn’t hesitate.

  32. Forgot to add this to the end, one of the most famous sayings in F1 is “win the race as slowly as possible”

  33. A Formula 1 team employ a driver to win them a driver and team championship. That’s what Lewis was doing, the team championship was already won so he was attempting to win the drivers. He is not there to help some other driver win it.

  34. I’ve thought about it for 2 days now and have come to the following conclusions:
    Yes his tactics were right for him at the place and time. There was a WDC on the line and he had very few options available to him to win it. He did not break any rules nor did he cause any accidents. He drove slowly yet cleanly. He is in this business to win.
    Having said that, I believe he should have followed the direction of the boss when told to get on with it (more than once). He doesn’t own the car nor the team. He is paid to drive the company car and follow the directions of the owners, or their representatives. He was wrong to continue with the tactic at this point. I would have boxed him.
    Having said all that, Nico has won the WDC and gotten over the whole saga (according to interviews). He isn’t being too critical of Lewis and deep down I’m sure he understands the reasons for the tactic.
    That’s good enough for me to also get on with it.
    Roll on 2017.

    1. well said mate, well said.
      An order from your boss is an order from your boss. If I completely ignored my boss’ request and went against it, I would be expecting to be out of a job.

      1. @tom
        Yes, but your not a 3 Time world champion going for the fourth.

        Any driver who would’ve given up, is a loser. I don’t care if he has 3 wheels, go for the win! Go for the championship!

        As said above, if you wanted a loser, hire Gutierrez or Ericsson. Hell, pay one Of the mechanics to drive… Mercedes chose wisely.

  35. Neither agree nor disagree. Hamilton can do what he wants within the rules, and he did.

  36. Strongly agree. It was the only realistic option he had available, and I can’t imagine any of his rivals would have done something different.

  37. I didn’t like Hamilton’s tactics and was frustrated with them, but ultimately saw no wrong doing.

    It didn’t work out, but it was a stroke of genius. It reminded me of Sepang 1999: where after letting Eddie Irvine through to first place (and eventually the win), Michael Schumacher drove fast enough to hold up Mika Hakkinen behind him, but at the same time maintaining his position behind the other Ferrari. Therefore maximizing Irvine’s title aspirations with one round to go. Unfortunately, it all came undone for the Irishman in the finale.

    As frustrating as Lewis’ actions were during the race, for those who wanted Rosberg to win (including myself), I appreciated them because it’s that sort of ruthlessness that has made him a 3-time world champion. Formula 1 is just like any other sport: it’s fight, so you do what you can to win.

    If I had to find a fault with Lewis during the entire weekend, then it was the way he lacked grace in defeat. Yes, “show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser”, but fact is he got beat. It happens, even to the very best. Rosberg was (is) a deserving champion, and he should have immediately acknowledged that rather than sheepishly undermine it by pointing to the reliability issues he suffered; as well as trying to steal the headlines/keep the limelight to himself to belittle his team-mate’s success (http://www.skysports.com/f1/news/24096/10675651/nico-rosberg-the-world-champion-but-lewis-hamilton-steals-the-story).

    1. @rafael-o It’s interesting that you bring up occasions where Ferrari tried similar tactics in the past as back then I recall them been heavily criticized for it & I seem to also recall that there were a lot of call’s for the FIA to ban such tactics because many saw them as been unsporting.

      1. If you watch the Malaysia 1999 race again, you’ll hear
        nothing but praise from Martin Brundle and Murray Walker for Schumacher driving the way he did that weekend. It was very impressive, far more so that what Hamilton did on Sunday. As for ferrari, straight after that race they were initially thought to have made their bargeboards to big (by 5mm) after McLaren protested, but after an inquiry Ferrari’s results were reinstated.

  38. I don’t understand how it can be claimed to be unsporting. He’s literally trying to fight a competitor within the confines of a set of rules to try to achieve a better result than them. Pretty much the definition of sport.

    There is no blue flag rule here, no holding up in qualifying to prevent a competitor setting a faster lap (ahem) just two racers on track, trying to achieve a better result than the other without doing anything outside the limits of the rules.

    Just being faster than Rosberg wasn’t enough, Hamilton tried to play the game with all the tools he had which didn’t prove enough, but it was fair. And we the fans got a tense show on an otherwise abysmal track.

  39. He was completely within his right to do so. However where he crossed the line was ignoring ‘Team Instructions’ coming from the top – Paddy Lowe.

    Instructions from the team should be obeyed whether you like it or not as it is the team who pay and employ Lewis Hamilotn & Nico Rosberg.

    Hamilton needs to realize that he needs Mercedes more than Mercedes need him. I say this because any driver could have been world champion in a Mercedes (the car was so dominant) and also because all of the drivers would have more than happy to drive for Mercedes

  40. What’s wrong with Fernando Alonso’s tactics in 2007 Hungarian GP Q3?

    1. He was judged to have “unnecessarily impeded another driver”, breaking article 31.7 of the 2007 sporting regulations.

  41. While he may have done nothing wrong I have to say that I really didn’t like what he did & do feel that it was rather unsporting.

    I get why he did it but still don’t think he should have & to be perfectly honest if Nico had got caught up with cars behind & lost places or had some contact that dropped him back & allowed Lewis to win the championship I really wouldn’t see it as a good way for Lewis to have won it to the point where I don’t think he’d have really deserved it.

  42. He has the right to do it. But personally don’t think it is right to do it.

  43. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    29th November 2016, 16:24

    I haven’t voted yet but I just want to ask something. If Hamilton had been Rosberg, just how annoyed would everyone be if he ignored multiple team orders? I can imagine that many people wouldn’t be at all impressed if Rosberg did that. If there were team orders in Monaco given to Rosberg to allow Hamilton through and he refused after being asked several times and held Hamilton up even more, I bet nobody would be happy. But if people think Hamilton was right to hold Rosberg up here, Why couldn’t Rosberg dot he same in Monaco? It may well have resulted in a higher points finish! But I think Rosberg should have done what he did. Hamilton also should have listened to his team last race. What Hamilton did was obviously his best chance of winning the championship but he constantly ignored his team. Since he was asked many times to start pulling ahead, which he didn’t, I think I’m going to have to either disagree or even strongly disagree. It was not impressive at all that he just wasn’t doing as the team ordered him to.

    1. Context of the situation is everything. There wasn’t a championship on the line in Monaco, there was in Abu Dhabi and Hamilton had to actively do something to turn the tide in his favor. Had points been reversed and Rosberg been ahead, he would have had to do something as well and holding back his championship rival would have been the only option.

    2. The situation was not at all the same as in Monaco @thegianthogweed. In Monaco Ric was ahead and pulling away at 2s a lap, the win was definitely at stake and as it was the 14s Rosberg cost Hamilton very nearly did cost the win. In Abu Lewis was ahead with pace in hand, on top of which the team already had the WCC and the WDC too.

      I don’t accept the argument that the team automatically has the right to decide, either. It’s a two-way relationship, that needs some give and take.

  44. He did what he was expected to do, he did what any driver would and should have done and he did it superbly; Nico had no attempt at passing him, so i guess he was pushing before the straights and going slowly afterwards.

    I’m happy for Nico to have won the championship, he kind-of maximized the season. Aside from Austria and Monaco, he took every point available to him; and he did gifted Lewis the win in Monaco -with RedBull’s help . Had he not let him pass, and there was no reason why he should have, i think Lewis would have lost more time behind him and be unable to get the win.
    As for Lewis, he took it well; one mechanical DNF in a season is amazing reliability; it just happens that his team mate had perfect reliability this year; i think he realizes that.

    It’s not the first time championships have gone one way or the other also because of mechanical issues. He won in 2008 by a few points, a year where Massa’s car broke down in Hungary while leading, 2 laps from the end.

    You can’t win them all …

  45. Let’s stick to the tactic of Lewis backing Nico towards opponents.

    The drive was safe and legal. No complaints about it as a race tactic. Indeed the race at the front could have been quite boring had Lewis driven off into the distance.

    From what Niki Lauda said on Channel 4 before the race I deduced that there was an agreement with Lewis not to use this tactic. Mercedes and Red Bull (in radio advice to Daniel Ricciardo) both believed that Sebastian had the speed to win the race. Mercedes told Lewis as much but he kept driving slowly. F1 is a team sport, the prize money goes to teams, and individuals should not pursue their own selfish goals at the expense of their employers. Mercedes get valuable publicity from the 1-2 finish and did not want to lose it. Perhaps he should be fined an amount equal to the advertising value he jeopardised.

    That said, Lewis could argue that he kept the Mercedes cars and sponsor logos on TV for most of the race and has certainly kept them in the news. Sponsors should be glad of that, especially Petronas whose lubricant failure in Malaysia cost Lewis the championship.

    1. AFAIK, prize money per race no longer exists. The team get their monies based upon position in the Constructors Championship. Therefore amassing more points actually costs teams, and the FIA charge the F1 entrance fee based upon the points scored in the previous year. I think it is $10,000 per point (with a minimum charge of $100,000?). So, other than the kudos and tropies, there isn’t much in it for them.
      Mercedes knew full well that a Mercedes 1-2 is not in Hamilton interest, since he needed a 1-4. So, what did they expect him to do, roll over like good little dog? Toto said they wouldn’t “interfere”, and guess what, they did. Go figure.

      1. Spot on. I was referring to the WCC prize money only to make the point that it is a team sport, however much the press makes it about personalities. I had forgotten the entrance fee, and you are right that points actually cost teams money the next year.

  46. “The secret to win is going as slowly as possible” Niki Lauda
    http://www.clivejames.com/articles/clive/lauda

    I think Hamilton did exactly what he had to do not only for himself but also for the fans. It would haven been a dull race and anti-climax if we had seen a dominant Mercedes 1-2 finish.
    And well done Rosberg for winning a deserved championship!

  47. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    29th November 2016, 18:17

    For me, Lewis shouldn’t be having a conference with team management to discuss the merits of attempting to win the championship for himself after securing the WCC 3 times in a row for that team.

    Just the fact that he has to discuss it during the race and account for it after the race shows the issues he has been facing at Mercedes.

    Mercedes proudly claims that they allow them to race but they will not let them race for the championship after securing the WCC?

    How can you defend such a preposterous comment unless the interpretation is that Nico can smash into Lewis unlimited times over the years but Lewis can’t even slow down Nico once even when the championship hangs in the balance…

  48. I voted steongly disagree, although in hamiltons shoes i would prob have tried it as well!!!

  49. Matt (@hamiltonfan1705)
    29th November 2016, 19:19

    No brainer. He had every right to do it. I find it ridiculous the team are even slightly angry at him, let alone considering disciplinary action, and I’m starting to lose respect for Mercedes as a team. By not doing what he did he would be basically giving up on the championship. Towards the end of the race I was actually shouting at the tv things like ‘Drive as if your driving a MasterCard Lola in the final sector’

  50. So after 300 votes it looks like Toto is out of step, with only 12% supporting him.

    1. Thats because this is a UK blog with misleading headlines and misleading FOR or AGAINST details.

      1. Do you have any other polls to back up that claim @marksch?

    2. @lockup – Oh, if there were actually a poll asking if Mercedes were right to intervene, I suspect that figure would drop even lower into the single digits!

      1. Let’s put this into better perspective. This poll has nothing to do with TW. It is a question about LH’s behaviour. What is not included in this article is the fact that LH had agreed ahead of time that he wouldn’t do what he did. I think that is a key bit of information when asking oneself if they think it was right for Mercedes to intervene. But this particular article asks if LH was justified in doing what he did. I said yes, but learning that he had agreed beforehand not to do that certainly puts a different spin on it.

  51. I have had an interesting read at all of the above comments. All very reasoned and sensible. My stance is this: The drivers are paid to win races and championships. The drivers who tend to win more races are those who are a bit selfish and a tad ruthless, that is part of being a competitive being. Teams know this when they hire drivers, and when they claim to allow drivers to race then that is what they should do. In circumstances where swapping positions for example would improve the teams chances of higher points, then they should be required to support their teammate for the good of the team. However, if the constructor’s championship has already been won then I think it is disgusting for the team to request this kind of support. They pay for competitive beings, let them compete. If they want kind gentle beings enter a tiddliwinks contest. For those who say ‘people have to do what the boss says’, respectfully I think that is rubbish. As I understand it Lewis didn’t knock on the door begging for a job. Mercedes, having a very good idea of his skills and mindset, approached him with the lure of championship potential. They can hardly complain if he then tries to win one.

  52. I think there’s also an element of Hamilton being criticised more because his tactics failed than because he tried them

    I doubt this. I think if he had been successful and won the world championship using what some people consider dirty tactics, there would have been a huge uproar.

  53. As a videogame designer, if someone plays your game in a way that you didn’t intend, but gives them an advantage, that is *your* fault for designing faulty rules, not theirs.

    Many games are played *to win*. And F1 is played *to win*. It’s not played to some ideals that no one agrees on. It’s played to the *rules*, which are the embodiment of what the governing body agrees the sport *is*.

    Unreliability factors into the championship. Tactics factor into the championship. Psychological manipulation factors into the championship.

    If F1 wanted racers to race flat out for ultimate speed, they could change the rules. Give points based on the gap to the following car, rather than on position. That would have incentivized Hamilton to *sprint*, and it would have incentivized ultimate speed over relative speed.

    It would also have had a bunch of other effects, like cementing Mercedes’ place as champions something like a third of the way through the season. So rules are always a balancing act.

    But to say that Hamilton should have *played a different game* because of the circumstances is nonsense. If you think Hamilton should have sprinted instead of tried to win, you *cannot* complain that Rosberg is an unworthy champion. Both players played the whole season *to win*, and the only reason you’re upset is that F1’s current set of rules *sucks*.

    1. I make games too. This isnt a game. There are not 1500 people and thousands of shareholders behind the scenes with a vested interest in a fair outcome. Lewis defied his team and his boss’s. ZERO excuse. Hope he gets fired.

      Nico and Merc should be celebrating a WCC and WDC instead all that attention is still on crybaby Lewis who considers himself champ even though he lost. As Toto said, have some dignity Lewis.

  54. If Lewis had suddenly slammed on the brakes and caused Rosberg to trash his front wing or get hit from behind by Vettel or Verstappen, or was weaving in front of Rosberg to force him off the track, then that would have been blatant cheating.

    The only other way he could have put Rosberg off was maybe by pulling a “Ken Schrader” … ( *wink, wink* )

    1. *nudge nudge say no more?*

  55. I have to side with the Mercedes team, they knew Hamilton’s plan wouldn’t work from the get go and it didn’t. When I heard Horner suggest it before the race, I knew he was just planting seeds, he succeeded, Hamilton should have stuck to his original plan, all he did was drive slowly, cause a train and help Rosberg win the title. In Mexico for example, Massa held up Perez for most of the race, he didn’t get past.

  56. He was right to do it, but only up until the team order. So it is neither yes or no from me.

  57. I believe Hamilton did the right thing in backing Rosberg up, it was the only option he had because (1) he needed to get two cars between himself and Nico for the championship win, and (2) he wasn’t faster than Nico and couldn’t extend a lead to the point where after the race he could say that he had left Nico for dead in a trail of dust and try justify that he is supposedly the “moral champion”.

    Any driver in his position would have great to do the same.

    Having said the above, I don’t agree with Hamilton ignoring clear team instructions in the disrespectful way he did. Even Michael Schumacher followed team orders (to his detriment giving up on a certain dominant race win but for the benefit on the team at Malaysia 1999) so for me personally Hamilton just doesn’t deserve the respect millions give him.

    Hamilton didn’t deserve the championship because he didn’t earn it. He ended the year with a shortfall in points needed to win the title, which is enough not to “deserve” it… but not only that he made a number of unforced errors during the season, he belittled the team after his engine failure in sepang and called their integrity into question, he threatened to sit out the remaining races after Barcelona when he hit Rosberg, he fluffed almost 25% of the seasons race starts through driver error, couldn’t fix the engine mode in baku, messed around in press events alienating the press and f1 fans, and had constantly moaned with a poor me attitude rather than truly rising above his personal challenges. He just didn’t live and breath the “win as a team, loose as a team” like many other drivers do.

    I was impressed with how Nico head handled himself this year, he’s just got his head down, worked hard, overcome his own set of issues and challenges that the season had presented to him, taken unnecessary penalties on the chin, and made the best of the more difficult moments, such as Malaysia and baku. Most of all, the world got to see the real Nico after the race, he came across as a really good guy, genuine and at total odds with his previous persona where he put up a shield to protect his mindset.

    I’m delighted that Nico won this year, no one deserves a championship, It’s earned through a mix of the right attitude, competences, hard work, consistency, luck and self belief. He’s a credible champion, one that the sport will benefit from being there.

  58. Why bother with this poll, Kieth? You’ve already said on Twitter that any opinion other than yours is “utter drivel”. Plus you’ll hardly get a balanced response from a blog ending in “.uk”.

  59. “This was Hamilton’s only realistic way of winning the championship on Sunday”

    What was Raikkonen’s ‘realistic way’ of winning the championship in 2007? Or Massa’s in 2008? Neither of them resorted to this type of on-track behaviour. That is not to say I consider Hamilton’s tactics completely reproachable, but other drivers have chosen to do the best they could for themselves, even when their chances were limited.

    1. Neither Raikkonen or Massa had Hamilton directly behind them those years AND they had a team mate to potentially interfere with his race in their stead.

  60. Incidentally, Seb Vettel’s radio comment about Hamilton’s ‘dirty tactics’ was rich! Firstly he almost certainly backed off and after a half-hearted attempt decided not to overtake Rosberg because Verstappen was close behind and, basically, he wants to stay one championship ahead of LH. Fair enough. Second, had Vettel been in Hamilton’s situation I’m fairly sure he would have made a move right at the start of the race to block Rosberg in. How many times when he was chasing championships from the front did we see Vettel veer over to his main opponent to block him? It was a constant at one point. Again, fair enough (presuming the move within the rules). But my impression was that Hamilton did everything Mercedes asked of him, clean start, both cars away, etc. to give time to see how the race panned out and only really slowed down when all other chances had gone. A lot of other championship winners have adopted much more drastic tactics, not to say dangerous and 100% unsporting. No need to mention who.

    1. Multi 21 Seb Multi 21

  61. I’ve voted for “Nor agree nor disagree” since I think there were like 2-3 different outcomes for this race anyway. 1st was Rosberg winning, 2nd was Hamilton winning it and Rosberg having some technical problems and 3rd was Hamilton winning and Rosberg getting cought or passed by other drivers. These were the only outcomes based on my intuition and well there was a remove option as in Hamilton crashing in Rosberg, which was quite remote after the 1st lap. What’s done’s done and Rosberg is the 2016 champion. I was dissapointed in Hamilton’s speech but well I wasn’t expecting anything better so that’s ok. I am not really a Hamilton fan, since 2007 I was constantly dissapointed by his actions, but at least Rosberg well far decent in his speech and actions on the track.

    See you in 2017 :P

  62. What baffles me is people praising Lewis on how supremely skilfully he did the deed. It is painfully obvious he did a poor job and got nothing from it. He didn’t have a clue.
    Lewis, say what you want about the Malaysia DNF, but meanwhile learn how to back up a rival driver, learn and practice your starts, learn how to change engine modes and maybe if your next car is still dominant you’ll get another WDC before retirement.

    1. Tell us, how could he have backed up his rival better? Where could he have stored a manual in his car to deal with settings he normally doesn’t need to be concerned about. The starts I’ll give you, but he did sort them out in the end.

      1. Lewis needs to store the engine modes in the empty space between his ears, not in a manual, that’s part of the job.
        About backing up rivals, he had a supremely well done job performed on him in Brazil ’07 by Alonso after L1T4, he might have learnt from that between snapchats. By the way, he messed the gearbox settings shortly afterwards. History repeats itself.

        1. Even if he had the engine modes recorded mentally (however Lewis is not known to be a savant) he still could have spent maybe ten laps or so trying out each one, because he had no idea what ‘wrong’ setting the car had been put in. Rosberg knew because he had change his settings.

          I also am unapologetically a conspiracy theorist and suspect Nico had changed his settings at the beginning of races to get a better launch, note he forget to revert to a race setting Spain which resulted in him losing power and a collision. The question here is was he coached to do this and if so why wasn’t the same information passed on to Lewis (since Mercedes are insistent on one two finishes) ?
          Anyway I digress, but why did the cerebral Nico Rosberg have to be told to skip 7th gear, when he had a gearbox problem ? Surely that reasoning is much simpler than discerning which setting you are or supposed to be in.
          Finally, of course Lewis messed up starts and that these errors cost him points, but those are points he lost and we can’t assume that he would have done any better in those races. So we can only consider the issues that were not under his control, such as the grid penalty at Spa for parts changes and the two power unit failures. These were the difference in the championship and not Lewis’s own mistakes and when we add this up they make a massive difference, in fact Lewis having one less mechanical issue alone would have seen him as the WDC.

  63. Isn’t there some way we could have the season finale be worth double points so something like this never happens again?!? :)

  64. Hamilton lost because Timo Glock wasn’t there to help.

    But my serious opinion is that it was very unsportsmanlike and cowardly for Hamilton to hold Rosberg up to try and win the championship.

    It’s not winning to ‘win’ this way. You are to outdrive, outrace, out maneuver, out smart etc your opponent. But to hold him back to try to win is just a hollow victory and would make you the laughing stock of the racing world.

  65. I have more respect for Hamilton because he ignored team orders in the circumstances they were given. He said afterwards that it was obvious what the intention was behind the orders – hence why he didn’t follow them

    In the race he gave his answer that he had enough pace to keep the other cars at bay – thus neutralising the supposed reason behind the request. Despite this Paddy gave his instruction

    Afterwards Paddy said he was pleased Nico won because it gave balance. To be frank its looks they wanted Nico to win as a reward for his hard work and also to underline the dominance of the car as opposed to a person (Lewis). I doubt they did anything to the car over the season but I am left feeling that they have possibly manipulated things over the years to favour Nico

    Hypothesise –

    changing the mechanics once Lewis had gelled and established his modus operandi thus gifting Nico all methods and technique Lewis has and destabalising Lewis who appears more fragile in hispersonal relationships and takes more time building them

    putting the brakes on the absolute limit weight wise thereby eliminating one of Lewis driver advantages over Nico

    having only one strategist so there can be no more extreme strategies – again meaning Lewis cannot perhaps try something more on the limit – something he is good at as he can apparently drive around problems

    I don’t know – I hope the above isn’t correct
    What I do know is that Merc have consistently shown a willingness to try control to the nth degree in a sport which is not just about control in systems and car building but is also about spit second gut responses, bravery and skill.
    They are disingenuous as Sunday showed – saying one thing and doing the exact opposite
    When it was reported on the grid that he had been told he would be pitted after Nico if he slowed up the cars I was appalled – totally against ‘racing’
    They created the problem with Lewis – had they left alone all would have been well

    Anyone who would have carried on backing up until that point and then fallen into line because you were told off by your boss is frankly gutless.

    If you truly believe in right and wrong then the brave person stands up for whats right and stuff the consequences – if the boss doesn’t agree after reflection then he needs to find another employee – and I am sure that Lewis only wants to be in a team that allows fair racing with his team-mate in equal machinery

    When interviewed by Brundle he confirmed he was looking forward to the telling off he as supposedly going to get – and I don’t blame him as he would have had some pretty good answers imho

    Its undeniable that given equal machinery (that doesn’t break down) Lewis would have won this year
    Its also undeniable that Nico is a great driver and drove the car he was given as well as he could this year

    I think Lewis has realised that sometimes the best driver doesn’t always win the championship – he has et out to prove he is the best driver and I think he did just that

  66. Is the Pope a catholic……

    I hope the team are ashamed of themselves after Sundays performance, all this talk of the team not trusting Hamilton. If I was Lewis I don’t think I could trust the team fully again…..

  67. Check out the radio transcript between minutes 46 and 47. Enough said.

  68. Like Keith I was surprised at the criticism Hamilton’s tactics received, but as I mentioned elsewhere considering Hamilton gets criticised no matter what he does I shouldn’t really be surprised this time.

    What Hamilton did was not against the rules and was not dangerous, it was the only option open to him if he wanted to win the title, people may have a point when they say that to be effective he should have slowed Rosberg down earlier in the race or even in the previous races after it became obvious that Rosberg only need to finish second to secure the title.

    I see no real reason why people have a problem with Hamilton’s tactic of holding Rosberg up to try and win the title just as I don’t understand the view that I have read by some that if he wanted to be considered a true champion that Rosberg should have gone all out for victory in the final four races even though he only needed to finish second.

    In those last four races Rosberg would have tried his maximum as usual in qualifying, probably have been a bit more cautious at the start but after the start when he was second behind Hamilton he had absolutely no reason to push for victory and would have been foolish to take any unnecessary risks.

  69. Hamilton’s tactics in Abu Dhabi were perfectly normal in my opinion.

    Compare it to football:
    In football you have to attack to score goals to win the game.
    At the same time you have to defend to prevent the other team from scoring goals.

    Becoming a Formula 1 champion means you need to attack to score as many points as possible.
    At the same time, you have to defend to prevent the other guys from scoring points. Eg. not sharing telemetry, try to get the best crew on your side of the garage, lobby for your preferred brake or clutch system in the team, etc…

    During this year’s European Football Championship, we saw lots of teams playing purely defensive games and not attacking at all. Their purpose was not to win, but to prevent the other team from scoring/winning.
    Iceland and Wales did it and they were welcomed as heroes back home for their great results.

    Hamilton does the race equivalent of that during 1 race and suddenly we have a poll on this site to see if it was OK or not…

    People are strange sometimes.

  70. Having followed Formula 1 since 1956 when my Father took me to see Moss and Behra etc race at the original Albert Park circuit I’ve seen outstanding sportsmen and many less so.
    Lewis Hamilton is one of the latter.

  71. Hamilton had to do everything he could to win the championship and that is exactly what he did, because that’s the only thing he could have done. I have always seen drivers winning world championships by always being n the best car and by being aggressive. I’ve never seen anyone win a world championship by being sporting. Perhaps the word belongs on a cricket field, but not on a formula 1 circuit. In any case Rosberg had the option to overtake Lewis but chose not to take it. Did he break any rules? NO! I’ve never seen or heard of a rule that says that you have to be sporting. Therefore in my opinion what Lewis did was absolutely right!

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