Hamilton at Mercedes – will he have what it takes?

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    So how do we all think it will work out?

    Given that the plan is probably to do what Michael Schumacher did in 1996 for Ferrari, he will need very strong interpersonal, managerial and motivational skills off-track, as opposed to just on-track skills. Car development is also the very important side order in all this.

    Personally I’m not too sure. Lewis is fast, he can drive, he can overtake. But I don’t believe that he has it in him to really “lead” a team and rally them around him. IMO he will be able to make the occasional miracle on track using his driving skills – but I’m personally not convinced that he can drive Mercedes, as a team, to the front of the grid.

    Note – this thread was not meant to be discussing his on-track abilities – rather his teambuilding efforts at Mercedes.



    Well, it’s a very tough situation for Hamilton. I’ll let others talk about off track.

    On track, however, Hamilton is not on the same level playing field with other drivers and hasn’t been since 2007. Whether the track is 1%-20% more competitive against him, the end result is that he faces way more competition on track.

    Now he has the following opponents:
    – Massa (huge grudge over 2008 – will take Lewis out in 50% of passes) so Lewis has to perform a master pass.
    – Alonso – he views Lewis as his equal and therefore will fight him more than say Button whom he views as a step below him – any race between them becomes part of F1 history.
    – Nico – he will be happy to score 5th-10th in every race if he can outscore Lewis just like he did with Schumacher. The stakes are very high for Nico – if he can also outscore Hamilton, then he can make the claim that he’s the best F1 driver in the world even with 1 victory and no WDC…
    – Vettel – Stop Lewis, do something!!! Thank you Martin, you rock!
    – Webber – he must have team orders to hold off Lewis if he becomes a threat.
    – Button and Perez – there’s no way they’ll let “Kid McLaren” pass them in a slower car, expect serious opposition on track from McLaren next year
    – Raikonnen – he doesn’t need a reason to get racy with Hamilton:-) It’s a given the moment they are within a second of each other.
    – The rest of the field who just want to duke it out with Hamilton even though they don’t have the car simply because that’s the whole reason they’re in F1…

    We all saw how racy Schumacher got with Hamilton in Monza 2011 opening a massive gap for Button to pass both. You can’t blame Schumacher – Lewis is probably the reason he came back from retirement…

    Not to mention that Hamilton will probably get racy even if he’s a lap down as it’s in his DNA to fight.

    Things do NOT look rosy on track for Hamilton to say the least.



    I think it all depends on the car. As Michael pointed out – if he is stuck fighting in the midfield he will no doubt have a tougher time than most dealing with ‘racing incidents’. If however the car is fast enough for him to be able fight for pole then I reckon the drivers around have too much to lose by being overly aggressive with him.

    Based on this I suspect 2013 will be a woeful year as I sincerely doubt the car will be up to spec. 2014 could be a very different story. McLaren are apparently looking for a new engine supplier and this cant bode well for their 2014 season. So maybe this decision will pan out.



    @freelittlebirds @bertie yes, but this thread was not meant to be discussing his on-track abilities – rather his teambuilding efforts at Mercedes.



    Is it official that the engines will change in 2014? I heard rumors that Bernie and Ferrari were not in favor of the new engines. Of course, the rumors came after Hamilton announced the move to Mercedes…

    Would Merc have an advantage if they move from the 18,000rpm 2.4 liter V8s to a 15,000rpm 1.6 liter Turbo V6 or is it just that the change is so radical that no one knows who will come out on top?



    yes, you are correct about that and I apologize if it appears that the reply is off-topic. I just wanted to point out that things would be very tough on-track without even taking into account the off-track side of the equation.

    Personally, I do agree that Hamilton’s chances of re-energizing Merc and leading them to victory are very low if Brawn and Schumacher have already failed in that respect. IMHO Schumacher is more charismatic and more of a team-leader/builder than Hamilton.

    I’m not sure what is holding back Mercedes. They have the resources, they have the drivers and are about to get another top driver but it seems that an important piece of the puzzle is missing. I think the job for answering the puzzle falls with Brawn. He needs to understand why Mercedes is behind the other teams. Renault for instance have managed to come back this year and almost have double the points in the WCC.

    When you make billion dollar commitments which is what F1 costs for 5 years, then money is no object and you MUST try to win. Mercedes need to find out the areas where they are weak and make them stronger. They need to find someone with laser focus to manage those shortcomings. Brawn is not in a position to do ALL those things anymore – he has to delegate. If they can find a clone of Horner to lead that effort, they’d be ok.

    I’m almost tempted to suggest trying to lure one of the Audi LeMans head honchos (the doctor or his lieutenant) – they REALLY seem to have their act together. Bring them onboard and ask them to address the weak areas.



    I’m afraid not. Look at how poor Mercedes have been since… Monaco really; and seeing how mediocre the WO3 is, I’m afraid the WO4 wont be much better, I doubt Mercedes can make such leaps no matter how strong their technical team is currently, as the rules & regulations aren’t going to change much until 2014. Hamilton does not have the patience to drive in a midfield team. I fear Mercedes and Lewis could fall-out potentially.



    @freelittlebirds No one knows who will make the better engines. But as the engines are new, they won’t be frozen. Development will ensue, and generally the works teams will be one or so upgrade cycle ahead of the customer teams – ie sometimes the Mercedes will have a better engine than McLaren/Force India.

    I actually think that the tech department is to blame for quite a bit. Too many chefs in the kitchen, leading to a lack of decisions made, because the 3 tech directors (I mean, come on. Engineering, R&D, and technical director? What the hell differentiates their jobs!?) cannot come to a consensus on what to do. A sort of paralysis by argument if you like.

    The weird thing is that Brawn is one of the best minds in the business – but why can’t he see that hiring so many tech directors is not necessarily the best idea?

    @kingshark Yes, a fall-out is possible. But Lewis has the most to lose IMO. He will make himself look like a massive tit, especially as he is saying he’s not expecting podiums in 2013, and he’s in it for the long run to help the team build up.

    It’s like saying, “yes. I’ve matured, I’m patient and I can bring teams from the doldrums.” then saying “No I can’t, actually”



    I agree, sometimes too many people can become a hindrance. You almost don’t see anyone else talking to Horner other than Newey. That’s why someone needs to come in and sort this who can just address the car performance issues and report to Ross Brawn who can also guide him in the right direction. It’s obvious that Ross Brawn can’t do that himself otherwise he would have – I think he has enough on his plate without managing directly all those directors.

    I think it’s obvious they need to bring someone in and make them responsible for anything related to car performance. Someone competent should have no trouble producing a top car with those resources and talent.



    Yeah. I thought Bob Bell was a good move. Bell is a good TD. But adding Costa and Willis? That’s too many, to be honest.



    Well, whoever Mercedes has now is not doing a good job and I don’t think it’s smart to assume they will do better next year. That’s not to say that the person is not good at what they do – sometimes things just don’t work out at 1 team but they do at another.
    Someone has to come in who has technical expertise but more importantly can get the best results from the team. Hamilton can only “help” the team develop a good car – he can’t develop it for them. My knowledge of F1 does not extend to TDs unfortunately;-)


    Antonio Nartea

    But I don’t believe that he has it in him to really “lead” a team and rally them around him.

    I don’t question Hamilton’s potential leader abilities as much as I do question his patience and willingness. I’d say Mercedes are the ones who need to rally themselves around Lewis if he’s to deliver any results, and fast. If they manage to do that and provide him with at least the 3rd fastest car on the grid in 2013, it will all be good in Brackley. If they hold position in the midfield, I expect Lewis to get frustrated and lose his marbles fast! Less than a year.

    Let’s not forget Lewis is not there to build a team around him, with his own hands. He signed with Merc in order to have a team built around him. Big difference…



    @tony031r why should Mercedes just rally themselves around Lewis? They need incentive to do that. IMO the driver needs to pull the team around him – they can’t just rally around the driver automatically. They need a reason.

    I don’t think he signed to have a team “built around him.” I think he went there to do what Alonso and Schumacher did for Ferrari, and what Vettel did at Red Bull – rally the team around them. What? You think Merc went “Hey Lewis, come over here, and we’ll immediately lump all our resources into you?”

    Mercedes hired Hamilton so he would hopefully help them up the grid – not help Lewis have his own team.

    Big difference, I agree – but I don’t think you’re looking at the correct side of the difference.



    What more incentive does Merc need to rally around Lewis? With the addition of Lewis, they have a proven driver that will maximize their chances of winning a championship as long as Merc produces a good car.

    Lewis is very hungry now – he’s already lost 2 WDCs which is more than he’s won. I’m hoping that the move to Merc will re-energize Lewis the most.

    If Merc can put Lewis in a car that’s within 0.2 seconds of the top car, I think they’ll be in good shape. Anyway, the start of the next season promises to be a nail-biter…



    @freelittlebirds A driver needs more than to be just good to rally. If that was enough, McLaren would have rallied around Hamilton. And not once in his 6 year stint at McLaren did they look like doing that. In fact Button has a stronger relationship with them.

    For example. Speaking to some in the paddock, apparently the Force India mechanics are on very good terms with Hulkenberg, but not with Di Resta. Is it because of a lack of talent? No. You need interpersonal skills too. Mechanics and engineers are not going to rally around someone that they dislike.

    If you had a new manager come in at your office, and he was an ass – it doesn’t matter how good his business and managerial acumen is, you’ll still not want to rally around him.

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