If the race in Hungary wasn’t enough excitement, adding a little controversy to the equation may be just what you need. During the race on Sunday, Lewis Hamilton was asked to let him 3-stopping teammate, Nico Rosberg, by so he could get on with his race. The German was on newer tires and being behind Hamilton was not the fastest way to make his strategy work or at least that was the thinking of the team.

Lewis, on the other hand, didn’t move over for Nico and told the press:

“Obviously I am aware that I was in the same race as him, just because he had one more stop than me doesn’t mean I am not in same race,” Hamilton argued.

“If I let him past then he could pull away and come back at me later.

“I was very, very shocked that the team would ask me to do that [move aside].

“He didn’t get close enough to overtake, I was not going to lift off and lose ground to Fernando [Alonso] or Daniel [Ricciardo], so it was a bit strange.”

Oh how the internet raged when “Multi 21” happened but is this similar? Should Lewis have let Nico pass? There is a strong feeling that Nico was never close to Lewis so why should he let him pass? That’s what I was thinking while watching the race but I then recalled that running close to the car in front of you wreaks havoc on your tire wear and take serious aero off your front wing while running in dirty air. Was Nico keeping his distance to keep his tires in one piece or was he simply just too slow to hang with hamilton?

How did you see the incident? Is this a case of disobeying team orders and putting yourself above the team or is it simply a case of, “if you want the spot, come and get it”? If you are a Hamilton fan, there were several of those occasions in the last four years with Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel that drew your ire against the German so is this different somehow?

Did Rosberg ask the team to get Lewis out of the way? According to him, he did not ask but was told by the team that Lewis would be moving over:

“I didn’t want it, it was the team that informed me that he was going to let me past,” said Rosberg after the race.

“That was it. I don’t know what happened then. We need to discuss it.”

So how did you see the issue? All is fair in love and racing or is Lewis in the wrong here? Having replayed the incident, the radio message played on the world feed revealed that the team asked him not to hold Nico up but Lewis clearly didn’t feel he was holding anyone up. While I am not sure Lewis should be shocked, I do think Lewis held his position and Nico should have made more of an attempt to pass in order to signal that Lewis was, indeed, holding him up. If he wasn’t on Hamilton’s tail there fair game.  What may have been said offline is a conversation I have not heard or read.

An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Rapierman

    Nico was too far back to do any passing. Hamilton was probably waiting for him to catch up, so I don’t see how Lewis could be at fault this time. If Nico had kicked it into gear and eventually caught up, it might have been different.

    • That’s basically how I saw it as it unfolded but you know how folks like to unpack a conspiracy and if there is data to suggest that he couldn’t close lest lose his tires etc, then the fingers of recrimination will be pointing. :)

      • Rapierman

        Yeah, I’ll put that up there with the JFK “magic bullet” conspiracy. :-P

  • Oily Bo Hunk

    I’m of the mindset that it should be used if the car in front is at a big disadvantage, almost like coming up on slower traffic. Or if the car in front is far behind in championship points, but when both your drivers are battling for the championship, you can’t give a team order.
    Lewis is a former champion, and should be respected by the team. Bad call by the team.

  • Chris M

    Mercedes has this season locked. With that in mind, I don’t really see why the team should be calling for team orders. If they’re on different strategies in the middle of the race they shouldn’t be running each other into the grass, but that wasn’t the case here. Nico was never really right up on him so it’d be crazy to think Lewis was just going to pull over.

  • jiji the cat

    multi 21 was about holding station, so its very different.

    I think Lewis did the right thing. Although Nico caught him, Nico did not have enough to attack Hamilton Hamster. Had he have enough and had a go at taking Lewis, then we could argue that Lewis should have moved aside.

  • Lebole Monagen

    Nico caught up to Hamilton. Then he started to drift away. Should Hamilton has let him through was team going to tell Rosberg to move over

  • Andreas

    There was apparently two separate calls. The first was asking Lewiston not hold Nico up, as he was on a different strategy. The second was an instruction to let Nico past on the start/finish straight, to which Lewis replied that he wasn’t about to slow down and lose time to let Nico past – if he is fast enough to pass, let him pass.

    To me, the first call was more than reasonable. Don’t hold your team mate up, when he is on a different strategy – I have no problem with that. The second call, however, was downright stupid, and Lewis’ response was to the point. If Nico had lined himself up for an overtake, instead of staying 1.3 seconds behind, he probably wouldn’t have met any opposition. But when the team has two drivers neck and neck in the championship, you don’t ask one to lose vital seconds to drop back enough to let the other move up one position. That makes no sense to me.

    • Andreas

      “Lewis”, not “Lewiston”. I curse you, auto-correct…

    • br3nt

      The situation on-track or post race reasoning is irrelevant. End result is HAM disobeyed a direct instruction and obviously has zero respect for Wolff. Some team boss, no power or control over his own team. Bit of a joke really. No way either of them will listen to any instructions from him now. If I was Wolff I’d be seriously embarrassed. I’m so bored of HAM sulking on the podium every second race.

  • Does anyone here remember Malaysia 2013?

    • Andreas

      Yes, vividly. But I don’t really see any similarities. Then – in both the RBR and Mercedes instances – the calls were to “hold station”, made by two teams that more than anything wanted to secure WCC points. In this race, it ended up being a “slow down to let your team mate past” call, something you’d normally do when the driver coming up from behind is the preferred driver/only one with a shot at the title, and the driver being asked to step aside is the clear #2 (e.g. “Fernando is faster than you”). Yet, it was from a team that has all but secured the WCC, and whose drivers are fighting tooth and nail for the championship.

      Niki Lauda has gone public (both to Autosport and Adam Cooper) that it was a call borne out of panic on the pit wall. He said that Nico never was close enough to warrant any help from Lewis, so the call was therefore unnecessary, and Lewis did the right thing questioning it. Personally, I agree with the elderly F1 fan here :-)

    • Morton

      “remember this” said Nico over the radio. Only Ross would remember it unfortunately.

    • Brody

      If you could possibily remember, Lewis wasn’t ok regarding what had happened to Nico at the 2013 Malaysian GP. During the post race press conference Hamilton said, ” I don’t feel spectacular sitting here ” and ” obviously Nico deserves to be where I am right now.”….If the situation was reversed, I doubt very much that you would get the same response from Nico, I maybe wrong, but again I doubt it.

  • Interesting stats from F1Pulse dot com that I haven’t seen discussed elsewhere:

    “Prior to being bunched up behind the 2008 world champion, Rosberg was lapping in the 1 minute 27 bracket, considerably quicker than Hamilton, who had to extend his stints longer than the German. Here are Rosberg’s times:

    Lap Time
    41 1m 27.515s
    42 1m 27.673s
    43 1m 27.361s
    44 1m 27.569s
    45 1m 27.810s
    46 1m 27.764s
    AVG. 1m 27.615s
    But from lap 47 onwards, the championship leader’s lap times started dropping, matching that to his teammate ahead. Here is the comparison:

    Lap Hamilton Rosberg ROS AVG*
    47 1m 28.235s 1m 28.379s 1m 27.615s
    48 1m 28.624s 1m 28.205s 1m 27.615s
    49 1m 28.317s 1m 28.442s 1m 27.615s
    50 1m 28.204s 1m 28.164s 1m 27.615s
    51 1m 28.177s 1m 28.346s 1m 27.615s
    52 1m 28.181s 1m 28.419s 1m 27.615s
    53 1m 28.598s 1m 28.631s 1m 27.615s
    54 1m 28.962s 1m 28.908s 1m 27.615s
    55 1m 29.307s 1m 29.262s 1m 27.615s
    Total 13m 16.756s 13m 8.535s
    *ROS AVG: The time Rosberg would have probably done had Hamilton not held him up, based on the average lap times set in the six preceding laps.

    Rosberg averaged in the 1 minute 27.615 seconds in the six laps (as shown in the first table) before he was caught up. If that some average lap time is applied in the corresponding laps, Rosberg stands to gain 8.221 seconds.”

    Not sure why ROS couldn’t get by, but based on times, it appears that Lewis *was* holding him up, But, in racing, them’s the breaks. Don’t know what the Mercedes team internal directives are, but wiould not be surpised if they do not look kindly on Hamilton running his own strategy.

    Watch for Rosberg to return from break with a renewed condence that he is faster, more mentally centered and fully determined to take the championship.

  • MIE

    The only justification for the team to ask Hamilton to let Rosberg by was that they were still looking to win the race, Rosberg had a chance but Hamilton’s tyres were too worn to allow him to challenge Alonso let alone Ricciardo.
    If Red Bull make some dramatic improvement in the closing part of the season it is just possible that the Australian driver could sneak through to win the title thanks to the double points at the last round. For this to happen the Mercedes drivers would need to continue fighting each other for minor places thus leaving others to claim the win.

  • That’s two different times during the race. Rosberg caught Hamilton at the end of the race wasn’t the same as Rosberg catching him on lap 41

  • Ian Robinson

    If Lewis had let Nico through, he would of pulled Lewis along at the faster lap pace that he was doing up until he caught him, but i am in Lewis’s corner here, If I’m fighting for the championship, I’m fighting for every position.
    I think there is a bit of blame to be layed at Nico’s feet here, if he could hastled Lewis a bit more he couldn’t of argued his case and would of had to of let him through.

  • In light of Nicki Lauda supporting Lewis’s decision this is moot. I do not think that Nico was staying back to preserve his tires – it is a logical conclusion, but why would he go through the pack like he did then “pause” waiting for Lewis to give him an easy pass? I do not get it at all.

    Driver Stint 1 Stint 2 Stint 3 Stint 4
    Daniel Ricciardo Intermediate (8) Soft (15) Soft (31) Soft (16)
    Fernando Alonso Intermediate (9) Soft (29) Soft (32)
    Lewis Hamilton Intermediate (8) Soft (31) Medium (31)
    Nico Rosberg Intermediate (9) Soft (23) Soft (24) Soft (14)

    Looking at that, Nico was the worst with tires IMHO of the four leaders. I do not recall all the Safety Cars but that has to be a factor.
    Alonso did an amazing job on those Softs for so long…

    Yes, I am a Lewis Hamilton fan, and an Alonso fan, Daniel Ricciardo fan and Seb fan. I hate it when people like a driver you put us into some lump group like the Borg and have a collective mind.

    That being said, I had no problem with Lewis doing what he did. I do not see it as disobeying orders, he said “if Nico gets close enough I will let him by, but I am not SLOWING DOWN for him…” What is wrong with that.

    That cannot be compared to the Mark Webber/Sebastian Webber incident of last year where both drivers were told to throttle back their engines and Mark did so – having the lead over Vettel – and Vettel took advantage of that to go for the win.

  • bigyin

    C-mon Nico, you said after qualy that you would rather be fighting with lewis as it gets your blood pumping. then when that actually happens at the end of the race you looked like a cry baby who did not get what he wantedin making lewis slow down to let you past. Lewis said if nico got close enough he would let him past, but that never happened. Nico your better than this and a dam good driver, regardless who was asking for lewis to let you through it was simply a bad call. You have both fought in previous races to the ragged edge and this race was no different. As a fan for over 40yrs its been tough just sitting watch a race over the last couple of years compared to sitting up and shouting at the tv like it was a long time ago. so when the rare event takes place where its not only the drivers blood is racing mine is too. the excitement of F1 is NOT what it used to be and when we fans get to see some real action and get excited, it gets lost when team orders or supid rules ruin it. The sport is called RACING so lets race and stop all the BS

  • GoHami

    The bigger issue with Mercedes is something the Lewis mentioned a few races ago. When he was at McLaren each driver had their own strategist. At Mercedes they have one for both drivers. This is the second time this season that they’ve given Lewis bad information concerning strategy. I bet when it comes time for contract negotiations Lewis will demand his own strategist.

  • MIE

    I got the impression that RTosberg was cross with himself for not passing Hamilton on the last lap, rather than being cross at Hamilton for not letting him through. This is after all the second time this year (after Bahrain) when Rosberg has been faster than Hamilton but not able to find a way through.

    I was pleasantlyly surprised by the comments from both Mercedes drivers, that despite prompting by the press they refused to make derogatory comments about the team or team mate, instead stating that they needed to discuss it internally to fully understand the situation.

    • MIE

      Apologies for the typo, I need an edit function on these comments.

      I was trying to type Rosberg.

  • Curbn

    While watching the race, I was of the opinion that Nico’s inability to get by the Toro Rosso (was it JEV?) was very telling. I knew he was in trouble at that point.

  • I question Merc’s strategy more than the incident; why were the drivers split, and why was Hamilton on Primes? Practice data indicated the Softs lasting as long as the Primes whilst being much faster. Granted, 31 laps was optimistic, but if the “cliff” arrived, it’d be easy to switch Hamilton to a 3 stop a la Rosberg. There’s an inflexibility trend on the pit wall.

    And, I’m of the Pat Symonds mindset that split strategies guarantee one driver being caught out; with Merc’s pace, both drivers seem to surmount the field, which means the split strategy dictum compromises one of its own drivers.

    To the incident, others have said it well; Rosberg wasn’t legitimately close enough to Hamilton. Michael in Seattle, Rosberg’s pace was perhaps enough, however, he’d shown an inability to pass sans momentum (catching cars on the straights v. in-traffic). The internet might have exploded if Rosberg finished P3, Hamilton P4. They’re racing each other for a championship,

    Kudos to Lauda and Wolff for their recent admissions, and both drivers for displaying tact dealing with the media. Merc’s doing a good job with perception; IMO it needs work reading races.

  • NeilM

    A useful analysis tool is to think about how it might have played out with the strategies reversed and Lewis wanting to get by Nico. Would Lewis, who is the undisputed king of “If there’s some passing to be done then I’m your man,” then have been hanging back multiple car lengths behind his teammate? I think not: he’d have been right up Nico’s chuff with no doubt about being ready to pass.

    So back to real life, sorry Nico, you had to earn that pass and you didn’t manage it.

    On the other hand it’s just as well that Nico didn’t manage to fill Lewis’s mirrors, because then Lewis would have been forced to decide whether to actually let him by…

    • Brody

      I think that Lewis would have done exactly what he had said to his race engineer Peter Bonninton, ” I’m not slowing down for Nico.If he can get close and overtake, then he can overtake.”

  • Tim C

    Why is Mercedes in Formula 1 . . . the manufactures championship . . . not a drivers championship. It’s one thing to let the drivers have it out on track, but it’s another thing when the drivers possibly cost the team valuable points. If Nico was in front of Hamilton for all those laps, how much further down the road would he have been? Would it have made a difference in the final outcome . . . maybe. I haven’t done the math, but how many points did Mercedes lose by Nico not finishing ahead of Lewis. Yes, yes, I know . . . Mercedes will win the manufactures championship this year. That’s pretty much already decided. But, if I were in charge of Mercedes, I’d get these drivers in a room and have it out. I cannot imagine they really care who wins the drivers championship, but I’m sure they do the manufactures championship. All Mercedes needs is for these two drivers fighting for wins and then take each other out. A few races of DNFs and I can certainly see other teams closing in.

    • I’d argue Merc’s in F1 for exposure, and arguably for development. Running away with the constructors and its 2 drivers battling close for the Driver’s is the best possible outcome. Dumbly, I’ve been paying attention to the new AMG GT news and comparing whether lessons learned have translated; I’m an ad guy being suckered by PR. :D

      Yes, the manufacturer’s championship is where one earns the money, and Rosberg *potentially* could have gained 13 points in the Constructor’s by showing heretofore passing acumen and winning. Hamilton could have *potentially* done the same had Merc told Rosberg to hold station, preserving the former’s dying tires for Alonso and holding off a charging Ricciardo. There’re no absolutes on Rosberg’s passing ability or Hamilton’s tire life, so hypotheses are moot.

      If the Constructor’s race was remotely close, I could see your point. But Wolff’s comments reinforce that battle’s almost over; the drivers must be given equal chances from the pit wall.

      • Tom Firth

        as in AMG Customer racing or the road cars ?

        • The upcoming road car; the SLS GT3 I’m sure is neat, but tech-wise breaks little new ground. Having driven the standard SLS, I can’t get over how bad the sight lines are over its ridiculously long hood. :) Motor sounds lovely, however.

          The AMG GT was rumored to have an MGU-H and turbocharger a la F1, but didn’t pan out, running conventional twin turbos. There’s now rumored to be a CLA-AMG variant in the works with hybrid turbocharger setup (detached, independently-sped turbine and compressor, integrated motor/generator function), which makes more sense given the inline-4/single-turbo pattern, but who knows.

          Audi will be the first with its “e-turbo” tri-charged setup in the SQ5 and SQ7, although mechanically different. The 3rd compressor is purportedly powered solely by an electric MGU rather than pre-spooling an exhaust-attached turbine (incidentally making “e-turbo” somewhat of a misnomer), but the low-RPM lag control and power band shaping concept via electrical assist is similar to WEC/F1.

          Either way, 2014 racing tech translating to road cars is interesting.

          • Tom Firth

            The CLA 45 racing series that HWA developed with Mercedes which is launching in Brazil for 2014 would of been an ideal way for Mercedes-Benz to trickle the F1 technology down into areas of racing that people can see the translation of technology easier through to what they drive on the road. Unfortunately the series sounds like it will feature no hybrid technology, which is in some ways a shame given it’s a one make series by Mercedes anyway. Though I assume Mercedes-Benz has additional plans for the car, that means it can’t accommodate hybridisation on the track.

          • I’ll have to look up the series. Thanks. And jeesh, how much motor racing do you watch? :D

          • Tom Firth

            I don’t actually watch that one, just read about it somewhere. Sure it exists someplace though, but about a day a week (Literally) is the answer to your question.

            Anyway taking the conversation back on topic, I think the Hamilton/Rosberg situation is closer to Massa/Bottas scenario than the Vettel/Webber situation personally.

            Another question though, would we be talking about this in the same way if they weren’t in the title hunt together ? If one was at a clear disadvantage in points , say it was Alonso and Kimi ?

  • NeilM

    How many constructor points did MB lose by Nico not finishing ahead of Lewis? Most likely none, since finishing third and fourth is the same as finishing fourth and third. It didn’t look to me as if Nico would have made the additional pass for second place, since he didn’t manage to make the pass on Lewis for third.

  • CH

    James Allen’s blog: “…it is normal practice in modern F1 to let a team mate by if you are two stopping and he is three stopping; we see it all the time. This is not exactly a team order, it’s more of an agreement between the team and its drivers, a protocol…” He then goes on to make clear too that this time was different enough to make a case either way. Regardless where one’s favor lies, it is clear there’s not a Brawn on the pitwall. Leaving the radio message to be repeated and disregarded to an engineer does not speak well of PL a/o TW. Expect they knew they’d be disregarded too. Without a Brawn I imagine things will be worse than it would be otherwise before the end of the season.

  • Natthulal

    @NC – Since you have referenced Multi-21, the mediia drummed controversy where certain Sebastian Vettel didn’t obey team order and passed his team mate on track. I would like to quote Grace and say, “Are you new to F1?”

    Everything in F1 works as long as it is in the favor of a) British or b) English speaking driver.

    According to the F1 media (read British media) this how F1 rolls.
    a) British/English speaking driver is right to disobey team orders, since F1 is all about racing, and team management shouldn’t meddle, since the drivers are racers. Let them race.
    b) Non English driver ( Yes those Vettels, Rosbergs, and Alonsos) should obey team orders, because F1 is a team sport, and team management is always focused on maximizing the results for the team. In not about the driver, but about 300 plus personnel that are working hard in the factory. So a driver ( read non English speaking) should not act selfish, but put the team first.

    The above rules can be twisted in case in the team in question is not a UK based team.

    • JakobusVdL

      @Natthulal, thats a pretty astute observation ;-)

  • NeilM

    Sorry Natthulal, but here are more exceptions than conformances to your “rule.” We’ve seen team orders, overt and covert, successful or not, with every possible combination of driver nationality: Alonso/Barrichello, Alonso/Massa, Bottas/Massa, Vettel/Weber, etc., etc. Or how about the 2008 Alonso/Piquet scandal in Singapore?

    And as for the MB team being based in the UK, so are all the team factories except Ferrari and Sauber, no matter which country name may be displayed on the car. If anything the Mercedes team, wholly owned by a German company and with its own engine, might be expected to favor its (more or less) German driver, not its Englishman.

    Your theory has more holes than a chicken wire canoe.

    • Natthulal

      @NeilM – Thanks for your response. However, it looks like you missed the last sentence in my post. Additionally, the data that you have listed again feeds into the chicken wire canoe theory, if you look back into the history of the sport, and connect the dots.

      Just to illustrate my point, I will do a bit of deep dive into the examples you have quoted:

      a) Rubens Barrichello – No doubt he received short end of the stick in his Ferrari years when Ferrari short changed him on strategy, or used him to take out the rivals ( remember the famous JPM incident in Indy’03?) and since the team in question was Ferrari ( not based in UK) there was hue and cry in the British media about it.

      Cut two – Rubens Barrichello in Honda/Brawn GP 2009 – As early as Malaysian GP that year, the F1 media was harping on how BrawnGP now needs to put their weight behind Jenson Button, since he was the younger of the two and Brawn have a longer-term prospect. There were multiple instances that season, where Rubens was short changed on strategy, but there was never a peep out of the British media. It was only when JB hit a slump for few races mid-season Rubens was truly backed by the team.

      b) RedBull/Vettel/Webber – In this collaboration 2010 was the only season where Webber was in any title contention. And media was already drumming up stories to the effect Webber is on his way out, and deserves a title. Vettel on the other hand, has his entire career in front of him, and will definitely win titles in the future. The moment Vettel refused to play this game, and focused on his own title campaign; he was vilified by the media, and his image has been continuously maligned.

      c) Alonso – While German Schumacher and Italian Ferrari were pulling every (fair/unfair) trick out bag, Alonso was the darling of the media, and it was perfectly alright with the British media for the treatment Trulli/Fisichella got at Renault at hands of Flavio/Alonso. And mind you Flavio/Alonso were pretty much doing the same thing that Schumi/Brawn/Todt were doing at Ferrari with Barrichello in 2004-06.

      It was only after Alonso joined McLaren, and Hamilton went up toe to toe with him, Alonso became the villain for the British media. The moment Alonso became villain was when Ron Dennis asked Hamilton to simmer down, and bring the car home at Monaco’07 behind Alonso, and Hamilton went to media and bawled “I’ve a #2 on my car.” things broke down at that team.

      How Alonso became monster in the English media from that point onwards is well documented. Sad part is respected driver/commentator Martin Brundle launched personal attack against Alonso, coined the phrase Teflonso that has been used ever since to insult the Spaniard. Incidetally it was Brundle who coined the phrase Trulli train, which stuck with the Italian for rest of his career. Rather than applauding the fact that Jarno was able to qualify a slower car to a spot higher than it deserved to be in the race, Brundle made a joke out of it and it stuck for ever. Same Brundle never failed to laud how Webber qualified slower Jaguar higher than where it deserved to be. In case of Webber the Jaguar never lasted through the race most of the times, and hence didn’t end up ruining races of the faster cars. Trulli’s Toyota on the other hand was reliable enough to see the chequered flag.

      I can enumerate more data to support my Chicken fence canoe, but hopefully you get the picture.

      Mind you as a F1 fan for twenty five plus years, I for one firmly believe that every team at every race should focus on maximizing results on all their cars in running, and don’t like when the teams fixated on their lead car completely forget about optimizing the results on their second car. And have voiced out my opinion against that multiple times may it be in defense of Massa (Ferrari years 2010-13), and believe the teams should treat both the drivers equally, and if in situation when both their drivers are racing on the track, the team should let the race, and not interfere, as long as the drivers don’t take each other out.
      My peeve is only that media that influences the fans view is not consistent.

      • Suku

        Next is Rosberg!

  • Probably a lame answer, but it should be the common sense answer(unless I’m in the minority): Both are fighting for the championship. There’s no need for Nico or Lewis to move aside or hold back, just because the team calls it. Let them race without interference, this is F1, not go-kart.

  • jonnowoody

    I was shocked that he was shocked.