How the West was F1
Austin 2014
US Grand Prix
Toto Wolff spells out how Mercedes will play team orders from now on
News
Toto Wolff Paddy Lowe
Posted By: Editor   |  22 Aug 2014   |  11:48 pm GMT  |  53 comments

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff has spelled out the way that instructions will be given to their drivers in future after tensions were raised when the team asked Lewis Hamilton to let Nico Rosberg pass in Hungary.

Hamilton was leading Nico Rosberg, who had one more stop to do than his team-mate and therefore needing to drive at a higher pace, when Mercedes asked the 2008 world champion to move over to ensure Rosberg could maximise his strategy.

Hamilton, who trails Rosberg in the championship by 11 points, chose not to do so as he wanted to maximise his title chances after a run of bad luck and poor reliability in qualifying had left him to fight through the field on Sunday.

Over team radio, Rosberg became agitated that Hamilton was not easing off and letting him past but Hamilton added later that Rosberg never got close enough to attempt an overtake.

Speaking to the BBC’s Tom Clarkson, Wolff said Mercedes would “probably do the same in the future” if a situation arose whereby a pass was required so that strategies on both cars could be maximised, however instead of asking one driver to let the other through, they would ask the leading driver not to impede and invite the following driver to try to pass.

“You don’t expect when your team-mate has one more stop to do that you make his life difficult,” he said.

“On the other hand we probably shouldn’t have said to Nico that Lewis was going to let him through, we should have said he won’t make your life difficult.

“And you cannot ruin one’s race by expecting him to lose a couple of hundred metres. It was a matter of the words used not the principle.”

Hamilton said on Thursday that there is “no tension” and “no negativity” and added that there is no reason why the team will not be able to be completely fair to both drivers in future races.

Meanwhile Rosberg said he has “learned” from the incident in Hungary. “Of course we discussed it after the race, because it’s important to review a situation like that and to know how to move forward. I’ve also learned various things which I will try to adapt for the future.”

Wolff said that the drivers needed “a bit of mediating, management, caressing, hard words” and added: “You cannot expect it to run super-smoothly. They are racing drivers, they are intensely competitive, they are fighting for the world championship.”

On track at Spa, Hamilton came out on top in Day 1 of the Mercedes battle, the Briton finishing top of the timesheets in second practice, heading Rosberg by 0.604 seconds.

Featured News
MORE FROM JA ON F1...
Share This:
Posted by:
Category:
53 Comments
  1. JakobusVdL says:

    And what action will they take should one of the drivers impede his team mate??

    1. aveli says:

      We saw them impede each other in a few races and those races were described as the best we’ve seen in a long time.

      1. KRB says:

        Well, that was at times where they weren’t on different strategies.

        The question that needs to be asked to Wolff is why wasn’t Hamilton put on the faster 3-stop strategy in Hungary once he had cleared Rosberg’s pit window? At that point, he would then beat whatever result Rosberg could get, that should be simple to see. It doesn’t make sense why they put on the medium tire.

        It was the same when Wolff said after Austria that Hamilton was never on for the win there. That was an odd thing to say, seeing as he was right behind Rosberg after the first lap! It’s not like he took life out of his tires over a series of laps to get behind Rosberg; he did it all in one lap.

        A couple of things that don’t add up from Wolff.

  2. kenneth chapman says:

    there seems to be a certain degree of ambiguity here. on the one hand mercedes have said that they are free to race then they make qualifications. a bit like having your cake and eating it too?

  3. Simmo says:

    This sounds fair enough, as long as it is genuinely based on strategy and if they are 1 and 2 they can still race for the win.

  4. sarcosuchus says:

    “however instead of asking one driver to let the other through, they would ask the leading driver not to impede and invite the following driver to try to pass.”

    Nonsense petty semantics. The effect and end result is the same – one driver compromises himself to let another through. Its anti-sporting, when the 2 drivers are locked in a battle for a championship.

    I really worry for Hamilton and for the sporting spirit of F1. Stacking the decks against a competitor is just an abomination to anyone who has a shred of sporting sense or even general fairness. Its becoming very WWE. I wonder what ingenious mechanical malfunction they have in store for Hamilton tomorrow. Maybe the old “slow pitstop”, or change of strategy “due to the rain, that unfortunately didn’t work out”. Maybe old Charlie Whiting will get involved again and cast his magic in the mix…

    1. Peter says:

      Re Chalien – - Like he did to Alonso

    2. Drgraham lewis says:

      +1

    3. David says:

      Really? It doesn’t read that way to me. If the driver in front is slower, and making his car “very wide” to keep the one behind at bay … well, that’s the situation this is trying to avoid. If the car behind is quicker and can pass, this seems to be saying that the the slower driver in front will not impede progress.

      If the drivers can genuinely agree to this, it seems possible that it can prevent the atmosphere from becoming toxic.

    4. aveli says:

      we may not witness any such thing for the rest of the season. hamilton said he will inflict pain when he’s at his best.

  5. DB says:

    Wouldn’t it be nice if some of these “discutions” were only between the drivers and in public? #LetItBurn! #NoPR ¦¬)

  6. BenM says:

    This won’t work either. Wolff is being totally naive thinking that either of his drivers is going to let the other past if they are in the later stages of the race if they have track position.

    Mercedes are making this harder for themselves from a team management point of view than they need to. They need to realise that their drivers know they WCC is sewn up and that they are only racing each other for the WDC. If you understand this (and Wolff does know it..he can’t be that silly) then you understand that no “agreement” is going to work in the heat of the battle. Behind your team mate because of a different strategy? Well to quote Vettel: “Tough luck”.

    Problem is with a single strategist setting both of the drivers up, they open themselves up to suggestions of favouritism if they put different drivers on different strategies. They also reduce the opportunity for the drivers to compete on strategy.

    Lose/Lose – Mercedes spend a few bucks and give each driver their own strategist and let them have at it.

    1. aveli says:

      we have all witnessed numerous unassisted overtaking so why should the mercedes drivers be assisted to pass the other under any circumstance? they don’t deserve help to pass if they are not capable of passing.

  7. Joe S says:

    So really, they’re not going to do anything differently and won’t even word it much differently either.

  8. chris green says:

    wolff speak – ‘invite the following driver to try to pass ‘ – complete gobbledygook

    1. Random 79 says:

      Because obviously the following driver wouldn’t dream of overtaking his rival team-mate without an invitation ;)

      I actually reckon that Wolff generally knows what he’s doing, but this is not one of his finer moments.

  9. luqa says:

    Toto could just as easily have said : We are making up the rules as we go along.. Combined with NR’s comments yesterday of having learnt some things from Hungary, we can expect some fireworks fairly soon- maybe not this race, but soon.
    I can already visualize the articles put out by the various pundits, and the reaction of the fans, depending on who is perceived to be the “wronged” party. Will it be consistent? I highly doubt it.

    Still, I’ll enjoy the fireworks!! Maybe they’ll even take each other out and open up the Championship and give meaning to double points in the last race…

  10. Hiten says:

    ‘…we should have said he won’t make your life difficult.’

    what does that even mean to teammate who is leading?? Merc is just washing off hands and will be on top of one of driver if something goes wrong again..wuss

  11. Sebee says:

    So basically the intent is the same, choice of words will be more PC, but bottom line it doesn’t read like Lewis won this one. It reads like team feels he should have moved over.

    1. glennb says:

      Of course he should have moved over. He works for a company with a hierarchy structure like most of us. To put yourself before the ‘team’ is wrong. The team could just as easily have said “box, box, box Lewis”. That would do it. Team orders are not new. They have been around forever. Classic example was when Jesus told Moses to come forth. Apparently he came fifth and was disqualified.

  12. deancassady says:

    This is going to be good….
    This race, you read it here, long before FP3 (hopefully), it will yield nothing, this approach.
    I wouldn’t respect either one of them, if in such a circumstance, they made it any easier than they would for any other driver on the grid.
    It is insane… or inane… or, perhaps both.
    I give both those drivers credit to not expect them to, in any way, make it any easier, for their chief (and let us face it, ONLY), title rivals for 2014.
    Bottom line is reality, for both these drivers, there is not reasonable possibility for Mercedes to lose the constructor’s championship, unless they were stripped of points, retro-actively (you can read this as, ‘ain’t gonna happen’), and therefore, the ONLY consideration is beating your one and only rival; everything else is irrelevant!

    That’s the minimum of what I expect from these drivers.

    So, as the cat waits for the sparrow to alight, I look forward to savouring the complete and obvious ignoring, the planned approach to it, “… they would ask the leading driver not to impede and invite the following driver to try to pass.”

  13. Random 79 says:

    So everything should be rosy in the Mercedes camp for the rest of the season…best of luck with that Toto ;)

  14. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    HAMILTON is smarter than you think…

    1. Go Rosberg Go says:

      thats not a very high standard to set

    2. aveli says:

      he is smarter than all of them put together.

    3. glennb says:

      About on par with Kimi I would say…

  15. Cedgy says:

    What a lot of rubbish! They’re both fighting for the world championship title, neither of them will let the other through! Let them race for goodness sake!

  16. peter mitchell says:

    Lets just hope in the last half of the season there is less Hamilton & Rosberg news and reporters, journalists can find something else in the world of F1 to talk about. Its becoming boring!! Unless of course your a Hamilton Fan which I would say majority are on this site.
    May I ask how RBR will deal with the same issue for instance?

    1. TurboMuncher says:

      I think your comment actually says more about your dislike for either the driver you refer to (and / or his supporters) than anything else.

      Here we have a situation where there’s really only one car capable of winning the Drivers Championship, with the pilots running very closely on the leaderboard, albeit due in part to mechanical failures. In years gone by, to deal with your question, we had lots of coverage (and rightly so) on “Multi 21″, on SV being given Webber’s front wing, team orders, etc.

      If you’re unable to fathom why JA et al are writing about this subject in the circumstances this season when it’s clearly if huge interest to F1 fans as opposed to strategy protocols in a Catherham then we probably can’t help you I’m afraid.

    2. Drgraham lewis says:

      Seriously?
      Did you even watch the last couple of years?

      We know how Red Bull would deal with it already….

    3. Random 79 says:

      RBR have already dealt with this issue several times this season when they’ve asked Vettel to let Ricciardo through – sometimes he’s complied, other times not, no big deal – but the difference is that neither of those drivers are realistically going to challenge for the WDC this year.

      From this point on Hamilton and Rosberg are going to give no quarter to each other and Toto would have to be a deluded fool to think otherwise.

    4. kenneth chapman says:

      i agree wholeheartedly. i thought that i was the only [lonely] one that is fed up to the teeth with hamilton this hamilton that. it is not only repetitious but boring.

      as for red bull, they have also been tested with the team orders as witnessed by vettel’s last outburst ‘tough luck’ but then he went on to make a mistake and ricciardo pounced like cat with a rat. so we know what they will be doing in future.

    5. Wade Parmino says:

      Red Bull initially (2009-2010) had an apparent fair approach to this issue and very nearly lost a WDC because of it. Rather than favoring the driver who was far and away clearly in the lead of the Championship, Red Bull allowed the drivers to race without manipulating the result. The smart and safe strategy would have been to swap the cars 1,2 positions at both Japan and Brazil before the chequered flag, ensuring for a certainty a Webber championship victory. But, they risked it right up to the final race where Alonso almost seized the championship from both Red Bull drivers. It was just very fortunate for them that Vettel won that race and Alonso didn’t gain those extra couple of places. From 2011 on Red Bull pretty much all but hindered Webber by putting all their chips on Vettel from Melbourne to Brazil.

      This year is different in that there is only one team in the championship; whatever happens it will benefit Mercedes. So, they are in a position where it is logical and reasonable for them to allow the drivers to race. Team orders are understandable and fair enough if a driver from another team is a serious threat to both the leading team’s drivers. 2002 Austria was such a disgrace because it was realistically, an unnecessary decision and therefore unfair to one of the drivers (Barichello).

  17. Ben Z says:

    Regardless of the wording no driver would want to give away a couple hundred metres in any situation.

  18. TurboMuncher says:

    I think your comment actually says more about your dislike for either the driver you refer to (and / or his supporters) than anything else.

    Here we have a situation where there’s really only one car capable of winning the Drivers Championship, with the pilots running very closely on the leaderboard, albeit due in part to mechanical failures. In years gone by, to deal with your question, we had lots of coverage (and rightly so) on “Multi 21″, on SV being given Webber’s front wing, team orders, etc.

    If you’re unable to fathom why JA et al are writing about this subject in the circumstances this season when it’s clearly if huge interest to F1 fans as opposed to strategy protocols in a Catherham then we probably can’t help you I’m afraid.

    1. TurboMuncher says:

      Apologies all, this was supposed to be a reply to Peter Mitchell above, 23rd Aug, 6:50am

      1. kenneth chapman says:

        @ turbo M yes the same applies to my post.

  19. Witan says:

    Team orders of any sort are wrong and should be banned again. This little farrago and that from Williams earlier show how silly and potentially dangerous to the racing spirit they are.

    Blue flags too, let the driver being lapped defend his overall position from getting worse.

    With both gone then the best racing and entertainment will return.

  20. AlexD says:

    Modern formula 1 looks like this – “I am going to tell my mommy that you took my bicycle………………………”
    The days of fighters and gladiators are long gone. Teams, media and sponsors are making drivers look like little girls

  21. Olivier says:

    Ha! Didn’t Lewis just say he wanted to give Rosberg as much pain as possible?

    This do-not-impede-each-other rule has zero chance to be successful on the race track.

    Instead Toto should keep just one rule: Do-Not-Take-Each-Other-Out, That is easy to understand.

  22. aveli says:

    i was surprised to hear rosberg, twice asking the team why hamilton wouldn’t let him through in hungary. if only he let hamilton through in monaco, hamilton would’ve returned the favour.

    1. KRB says:

      Somehow, and perhaps I’m wrong, but I don’t think you’d ever hear “why isn’t he letting me through?” out of Lewis’ mouth, ever. I think he did say “we’re in different races” over the pit radio in Germany last year, which was a true enough statement. Rosberg didn’t comply then, or at least not right away.

      There was another issue at Japan 2010, when Rosberg held Schumacher up for 23 laps. At the time, Schumacher was given the message “Michael, no team orders, but Nico knows to be sensible if you make a move”. Sounds the same as what they will say now, but at that time it didn’t help Schumacher. It was only Rosberg losing a wheel that allowed Michael through, and by then he was too far back to snag 5th off of Hamilton.

  23. JohnBt says:

    Ahem! Wolfspeak as usual. Let them pass each other if they can regardless who’s the faster driver in the race, unless one of them has no chance in the WDC. Maybe Nico is still sore about Hungary?

  24. MR says:

    The fact of the matter is that in Hungary with LH not abiding by the team request meant the possibility of the team winning that race was compromised. LH put his own needs ahead of the team. Its the team that PAY him to do what they expect and not the other way around as per the bottom half of the grid……

    1. aveli says:

      and all the team’ stop bosses said hamilton made the right choice but you think otherwise. what is your motive?

    2. KRB says:

      The team missed out on getting the win from Hamilton! After Hamilton was effectively ahead of Rosberg on track, he should’ve been switched from the 2-stop to the 3-stop. Unless there was some heretofore unknown issue with the car, then Hamilton would’ve won the race with ease on that strategy (i.e. if they think that Rosberg could’ve won the race, then they have to also believe that Hamilton could’ve won it, seeing as he was ahead on track).

      A win from pit-lane, a historic first for F1 … and accomplished in a Mercedes. Missed opportunity extraordinaire!!

  25. Drgraham lewis says:

    MR – clearly not a LH fan then.

    Think a little about your comment. Through some stunning racing LH finds himself in front of the pole sitting team mate after starting third… In the pit lane start…

    Same number of stops required, same race to the end, same championship at stake and a teammate that despite faster tyres can’t get near you and has bottled up your race by failing to overtake a Torro Rosso for ten laps that too you just one to sort.

    CC already in hand for the team, you have in the last two races saved their considerable reliability and tactical blushes assisting that aim and…

    They come on the bell asking if you would not mind slowing down to let your one and only competitor through so he can nick a win…

    I actually was impressed with LH because he simply said if he gets here he can pass.

    I would have said something very different and the God all fans seem call the late best racer ever would have taken NR out rather than let him past several times this year.

    Think now…

    1. Craig D says:

      But it wasn’t the case that both drivers had to make the same number of stops, so you’re wrong. This is simply about the team saying if the cars are on different strategies they don’t want one car being held up by the other. In Hungary it was handled badly and Rosberg never got close enough anyway to imply he was being held up (because he was summing Hamilton would slow I guess, but of course why would he do that!).

  26. warley says:

    I wonder if Toto cleared that with Nikki ?

  27. Franco says:

    Don’t know about u guys but I can’t wait for them to win the constructors champions then we can see the gloves off and the fireworks begin.

  28. nijode says:

    I for one can’t wait for the first turn on Sunday. Wolff may end up with Toto on his face.

  29. KRB says:

    I think that would happen either after Japan or Russia. I think earlier predictions said it might happen in Singapore, but that was before Canada and Hungary, where they were beaten for points. Although the team might also want to make sure that Ricciardo has no mathematical chance at the title before letting them go at it hammers and tongs.

    So 3-4 “no holds barred” races, possibly just two.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Top Tags
SEARCH News
JA ON F1 In association with...
Download the chequered flag podcast today
Download the chequered flag podcast today
Multi award winning Formula One photographer
Multi award winning Formula One photographer