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Mercedes drivers split on favourite status: Hamilton “satisfied” with Pirelli changes
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Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Jul 2013   |  9:44 am GMT  |  169 comments

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg believes that his team are now the favourites for victory going into this week’s German Grand Prix. However team mate Lewis Hamilton disagrees.

Speaking in a Mercedes phone in from Stuttgart, Rosberg said,

“Fortunately yes, we are slowly but surely we are dropping into the role of being favourites,” said Rosberg. “Which is fantastic as such. The development rate during the season, which was our weakness in the past, seems to be going well at the moment. It’s a fantastic momentum we have in the team at the moment.”

“I don’t think we are favourites,” said Hamilton, despite acknowledging that the development rate of Mercedes is “impressive”. “I think Red Bull are still the favourites, they are leading the championships but we are improving and getting closer to them.”

Mercedes F1 team CEO said that Mercedes has the two best drivers but hedged his bets; “there will be other tracks linked to ambient temperatures where we are going to struggle a bit. This is in the DNA of the car.”

“Nico has proved that we can win with the car so I’m sure that at some stage a win will come,” said a subdued Hamilton.

The Englishman was very outspoken on Sunday night about the tyre failures, questioning whether anything would be done to improve safety and wondering if it might take someone getting hurt before something is done.

Today he said he was “satisfied” with the changes that had been made, “But when we get there we will see; everyone is in the same boat. I’m glad that action has been taken,” he added. “It is still a concern. We need to see how it goes, but I’m sure they have taken the rights steps.”

On the subject of swapping the tyres around from side to side, Wolff said, “Lots of teams swapped the tyres and did this for many race. There is quite a bandwidth on tyre pressures you are entitled to use. So I guess Pirelli are going to be more clear on advising the teams in terms of camber, tyre pressures and swapping the rear tyres.”

Both of the drivers would commit on whether the change of tyres would hurt Mercedes’ competitiveness, but Rosberg said, “We don’t have much experience on these tyres, we ran them in Montreal, but I’m confident that with the car we have it doesn’t matter much which tyres we have. IN general we have a very quick car so I’m confident we can stay where we are, more or less.”

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1

Lewis is just playing down the car so he has an excuse not winning or just incase he gets beaten in the fastest car. Maybe Merc should slow down there car in quali and go for a better race setup.

2

“And, of course, Nico is fast. But Lewis has not lost his speed. It is still there. He will come back and then he will shock you all.”

– Jenson Button

We’re only partially through the season. But if the last two Grands Prix are any indication in terms of lap times, Jenson seems like he’s on to something here.

Oh, and he’s a world champion himself. Perhaps we should listen to him. Or to Alonso, who has also been effusive in his praise of Hamilton despite their falling out years ago.

I think it’s great that Rosberg is performing so well, and in fact it’s great for Hamilton. He has always been at his best when he’s been motivated by a teammate who challenges him. He was unbelievable in his rookie year against Alonso, and he stepped his game up to a whole new level in 2012 after Button beat him in 2011. He got beat in qualifying a few times this year by Rosberg, and he went back to the drawing board, diagnosed his problem (braking), and set about fixing it. In a way, I think this sort of challenge is exactly what Lewis needs to take the next step to fulfilling his potential as a driver, as it seems to be forcing him to take a mature and focused approach that perhaps he was missing when he was younger. In my mind, this has really been the only thing that has given Alonso an edge over him.

3

I totally agree with your comments. To some people, Lewis can never do anything right. Out of all the top tier drivers, Lewis has had the most challenging teammates in his career – Alonso, Button and Rosberg.

He matched Alonso on points and beat him in poles as a rookie. He beat Button twice, lost to him once and annihilated him on poles. In a new team, with a teamate with 3yrs experience in the same team, he is not doing too bad and is ahead on points.

It is so funny that in hindsight, the fans now think that Rosberg was “underrated” now he is giving Lewis a run for his money – never mind that Rosberg has been in the team for 3yrs and SHOULD be giving Lewis a run for his money.

It is so funny that Button was regarded as another journeyman; even with his 2009 title until he beat Hamilton 1yr out of 3 – and that was spun out of all porportion and Button stock suddenly improved.

It is so funny that as a rokie, he beat a 2 x WDC, but that was excused as Alonso being on the Bridgestones for the first time, and Lewis having thousands of kilometeres in the McLaren simulator.

There is obviously a pattern. Anyone that beats Lewis has there stock automatically go up, but when he beats them, then there was a reason why, or it’s no big deal. It is almost like they want to see him fail, and are happy when he does. Haters will always be haters – no matter what, as their hate is not based on logic or objectivity.

4

You are seriously giving Button far too much credit…

He is merely the lotto winner of F1… nothing else…

He did not orchestrate the double diffuser WDC of 2009… he just happened to be there, when Charlie Whiting failed to provide clear direction on the matter, when asked by teams if it was legal…

Button is giving such bad Data at McLaren right now, that the engineers can’t develop the car beyond 10th and lower… this is not the signs of a real WDC.

5

RBR vs Mercedes, NR vs LH, SV vs the rest of the grid…all in all a rather good season, no? I’d say RBR remain the team at the top UNTIL they are consistently beaten in races by either Merc, Ferrari, and hopefully (but unlikely!) Lotus. What we’re seeing is the usual “talking up” or “talking down” by drivers and teams. Yes, Merc has 2 wins, race pace is good, and they’ve inched up a few places the WCC, fact is (points show!) that RBR are still consistently stronger and faster over the season ths far. IF and WHEN Merc get sorted and are able to string a few wins/podiums together, THEN i’d say my money is on LH to take the fight to SV as he has experience in fighting for a WCC. NR is a very good, and IMHO underrated driver, and with some luck and a good car, a future WDC – remember that he’s driven delivery trucks for the last 3 years (that MERC was awful), so allow the lad to be exuberant and excited when suddenly given a chance at a win, whichever way it comes. Each driver who has won a race or a WDC has had some luck in some way…little example, Alonso wins at Nurburgring(2005, was it) for Renault after Kimis’ front left suspension shattered with a lap remaining – after Kimi had led fronm the front and driven the wheels (literally, as we saw!) off the Mac.So, yes, NR’s wins have been luck, but you also must be in the right place at the right time, as Webber stated in the interview. In all the comments though, we overlook Ferrari and Alonso…like him or not, you can bet he will drag the Fezza back to the front…we al saw waht he did when the “prancing horse” started last season as a “stumbling donkey”…this season is far from over and i reckon we’re in for a few excellent races in the 2nd half of the season…

But please, somebody tell KR to go to RB…Lotus can’t give him the car he deserves, lacking just that last bit of pace/development…

Roll on Neurburgring on Sunday…

6

Had Lewis taken the Silverstone win from pole with Seb second then I would agree that would make Merc the favourite for the German GP. The problem is he didn’t and Nico’s win was not convincing as it required a puncture and a DNF from the cars ahead, not to mention the fast closing Mark Webber in the last few laps. We can’t conclude from the Silverstone results that the Merc was the best race car, we can only say that it is up there with the best.

7

Racing drivers are self centered people. When they say “we” they really mean “me”

8

Can i just say how good it was to see Lewis finally be able to push the Merc in the final stages of the Silverstone race. At the moment Lewis is just not getting too carried away, why do people look into things too much. Everyone just take a chill pill 🙂

10

Hamilton and Alonso always like to point out their cars are no the best. I think they believe it makes them even greater when they win. The Merc is almost a half second faster than all other cars in qualy and seems to be as good as the rest in race trim now. However, they always want you to think Vettel has the fastest car by far.

11

Merc is not a half-second quicker than the others in qualifying. In the races in which they won poles before Silverstone, they were at most about 3 tenths ahead of the next fastest car. In Silverstone, Rosberg was less than .2 of a second ahead of Vettel. It was only Hamilton’s unbelievable lap that put him .45 of a second ahead of Rosberg that made the car look that much quicker than Red Bull. And it was only Hamilton in the race who had quicker pace than Vettel and the other Red Bulls; Rosberg was slower than the Red Bulls and slower than Hamilton.

The braking issues seem to be on their way to being sorted out for Hamilton, even if he says there is some more work to do. That should really scare the rest of the paddock, especially after the pace he showed at Silverstone.

12

It is curious to know that Hamilton has Alonso, Button and Rosberg leading him 2 victories to nil in the year he had them as team mates…in Button’s case Hamilton finished 3 to 2 and in Alonso’s cas it ended 4-4, We will see how Rosberg will fare.

13

Interesting statistic..

14

What’s interesting is the way that various outlets can take a one word quotes from the same statement and use it to create different headlines depending upon what part of the story they think will resonate most with their audience.

JA seems to get the gist of the quote with the headline “Hamilton ‘Satisfied’ With Perelli Changes”.

Other outlets are stressing the danger aspect and hinting at a possibility of more accidents in the next race with this headline “Hamilton Admits He Still Has ‘Concerns’ Over Tyres”.

Funny how even a fairly bland statement can be reported in various ways.

LH “I am satisfied, but only when we get there [Germany] will we have a better idea how it is for us. Everyone is in the same boat, but I’m glad action has been taken. It’s still a concern. We’ll see how the weekend goes but I’m sure they’ve taken the right steps to make it safe.”

15

At the end of the day VET is likely to be a winner as ALO has 2 more frontrunners now to challenge WDC, IMHO.

16

I don’t think Nico and Lewis are really saying much different here. I think they just have different interpretations of what “favorites” constitutes.

Nico seems to be interpreting the word “favorites” as meaning “among the favorites”.

Lewis seems to take the word as meaning “absolute favorites”.

So they are both right. They certainly can be considered among the favorites now, but it’s still overly optimistic to consider them absolute favorites.

17

“Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg believes that his team are now the favourites for victory going into this week’s German Grand Prix.”

of course they are. They’ve won two of the last three GP’s, they’ve clearly got their tyre issues sorted out, plus the German GP will be held on tyres which Mercedes (but no other team) has prior experience with.

18

I think Lewis is absolutely right, yes Mercedes have had some success, but they still lag behind Red Bull by a significant number of points, and they need to make further improvements with rear tyres and the aerodynamic efficiency/downforce areas to be really capable of reeling in Red Bull. Things do not stand still in F1 and Red Bull will be working hard to find another significant step to stay in front so Mercedes need to keep up the good work, and we’ll judge their relation performance at the end of the season. – but I rather hope they can pull it off!

19

Rosberg didnt say the championship just the race at Germany.

20

Ask yourself who is in a better position to judge the Merc. Lewis who last year was driving arguably the best car at the end of the season or Nico who was driving the car that did not finish in the points in the later part of the season. Put Nico in a car that can compete ant he is going to think it is the best. Lewis on the other hand can tell that it still requires some work to match the Red Bull consistently. I will take the comments that come from experience,(Lewis, Brawn), over the comments that come from euphoria, (Nico).

21

No two cars are the same to thats a very myopic point you made there not like Hamilton made the most of the good car he had.

22

Sorry, not following your argument.

The point that you obviously missed completely is that Hamilton last year was driving a very fast well sorted car compared to Nico driving a very poorly performing car. This puts Hamilton in a better position to judge the relative performance of the Merc. What experience does Nico have to judge the relative performance of the 2013 Merc when he has never driven a top performing car before now. What Lewis achieved with the McLaren has nothing to do with it, he obviously drove it!

23

Maybe you have a short memory Rockie, It seemed to me that McLaren blew it for Lewis last year with all the mistakes, failures they made. He was on it last year!

24

I dont have a short memory but I think you do Mclaren won 7 races same as Redbull the only difference is the consistency of the drivers the problem was even when they didnt have probs he was getting beat Australia 2012 comes to mind yes he lost 2 wins both that wasnt even guaranteed as we saw we Vettel at Silverstone but if you believe he was on it oh well what can I say as he had same amount of wins as Button and thats considering Button had problems between China and Silverstone!

25

Honestly some people are absolutely blind. Nico has just won a GP and is obviously still buzzing especially after the Mercs have dominated Saturdays. But seriously folks had it not been for SC and a gearbox failure at Silverstone- the outcome would have been very different and it didnt take a rocket scientist to know what would happen at Monaco with a front row lock-out !..

Mercedes still have a lot to learn on Sundays to be equal to Red Bull who lapped everyone up to P5 at Canada (including a Merc), so lets not get too excited just yet ! Lewis is 100% correct-there is no politics, no deflection, and as someone else has said-hes been there far too many times over the last 3 years when hes been chasing the Red Bulls & YEP-everyone is still chasing RBR in the points FACT.

The favourable thing going for Mercedes is the new tyres being tested which is a re-balancing act for all teams and possibly giving Mercedes some peace of mind for attacking slightly more on Sundays..But as the drivers say..lets wait see !

26

If my uncle was a woman, he would be my aunt.

Nico has 2 wins, Hamilton 0. Nico had 2 DNFs with technical problems, Hamilton 0. Full stop.

27

Just so that you know. There is no championship for the driver with the most wins. The championship is based on a points total. Full Stop.

28

OK conceded

29

Well, there is. If both Championship leaders have the same amount of points.

30

Clearly another “hater”.. This is about Why Mercedes cant be seen as no 1 just now. Not “who’s your father”.

31

Ok let’s finish your ‘facts’. Hamilton has more points.

Personally all this is tedious. Both great drivers doing an excellent job so far. Full stop.

32

Before most of you start criticizing Lewis, he did not say that the car is not good, he only rejected to admit that Mercedes is the favorite car to win in Germany, which is rightly so. That does no mean that Mercedes cannot win in Germany but looking at the fact at the last race, there is no doubt that Nico inherited the race win from Vettel and probably from Lewis too. Nico and Webber changed their last tyres on the same lap, and Webber overtook 3 to 4 cars, yet could have overtaken Nico who was running in front all along.

Mercedes is getting better race by race, but are they favorite, not until they win in a normal race or perform very well consistently like RBR. I am very sure that Mercedes can turn the table on RBR if they keep on with their current rate of development.

33

Did Rosberg really claim that Mercedes are favourites for Germany ?

Maybe he clarified his statement, but “…slowly but surely we are dropping into the role of being favourites” is not quite the same thing as “we are favourites”.

Before (at the very earliest) the end of first practice, I don’t think anyone in Mercedes or Red Bull really knows who has got their nose in front.

34

Phew, I’m glad someone else read the article.

35

Mercs gained a lot from secret testing. Their improved race pace at a high speed circuit like silverstone after their slump in barcelona stands perfect testimony to this. Redbull on the otherhand tried to solve their tire issues themselves and seem to have overcome it.

36
All revved-up

I’m just indulging in some speculative fun; with the caveat that we have seen with pre-season speculation about Hamilton making the wrong career choice – that F1 is such even experts get crystal ball gazing dramatically wrong.

If the temperature of the rear tyres comes under control for Mercedes, then the team is certainly favorites for the WCC. The Hamilton Rosberg plus car with race winning potential – is a serious point scoring machine. Ferrari with Massa’s inconsistency, will not be able to compete. Red Bull will need Webber to see out the F1 season on top form and contributing serious points – without squeezing Vettel into barriers (ala Brazil).

So WCC looks wide open and interesting.

As for WDC – Vettel holds a +40 points advantage over both Mercedes drivers. So he enjoys a buffer until Red Bull and the teams strong on technical development, master the New 2013 Tyres.

I suspect RB, Ferrari and Mercedes will get there (master the New 2013 Tyres) – just not sure who will master the new tyres first. Lotus will suffer this change during the James Alison void.

37

It shows that Nico is far more naive and open while Lewis has learned from his idol Alonso to play down the car. Kudos to Nico for being honest and not downplaying the car. I agree with him.

38
Danny Almonte

Mercedes could move forward once they ditched Schumacher. He took too long to get up to speed and was very inconsistent. They seem to be handling the tire degradation now that they have two quick and consistent drivers.

Mercedes are second in the championship but are too far behind Red Bull to be called favorites. They are solidly in the big three. Lotus are pretenders.

39

They are not too far behind (less then 2 wins behind Vettel), it’s still only first half of the season. And if they have solved tyre issues, their pace will be scary.

It might be that their biggest problem will be which driver to back for the title. Because if they are splitting wins between them, Vettel and maybe Alonso can still win.

40

Mercedes probably won’t mind splitting the points between their drivers, if it gets them the WCC. After all, that is where the money comes from. The WDC, whilst important to the drivers (& fans) is just the icing on the cake as far as teams are concerned.

41

4th not 3rd – that’s what Toto said.

42

Spot on.

Go back to the start of the season and Merc stated their aim was to be third in the constructors standings. None of the drives considered they had a chance in the drivers championship. Whilst there is always going to be rivalry on the track I think there is far more emphasis on scoring maximum points for the team.

I think next year will be different.

43

“Mercedes are second in the championship but are too far behind Red Bull to be called favorites.”

He said they were favorites to win in Germany, which they are. He did not say they were favorites to win the WCC/WDC, which is what a lot of people seem to be attributing to him. Though they have a very decent shot at both of those as well.

44
Tornillo Amarillo

Great equality, relationship and respect between drivers in Mercedes, it’s not the same in Red Bull, Ferrari or McLaren.

45

What a joke. Thee is more equality between Vettel/Webber than between Hamilton/Rosberg. Brawn always has a clear number one and number two driver. Unfortunately for Nico, he’s has not been given a shot at trying to be No 1.

Red Bull and McLaren = no team orders.

Mercedes and Ferrari = team orders.

46

I must have missed that radio message at Monaco telling Nico that Lewis is faster than you.

47

Don’t make me laugh.!! RBR don’t have team orders?- the team is Vettel.

Equality between Vettel/Webber? Now that is a joke.

48

@Mike M – But then did nothing when that order was disobeyed…

49

I really don’t understand how people keep claiming that after malaysia, where they pretty openly tried to execute an team order in favor of webber.

50

Nico lucked into the British GP win when Vettel lost his gearbox. He did well to hang on to Vettel but was not making any serious challenge. On a good day at the right track the Merc may have the edge but I think the Red Bull is still the more polished race car on Sunday.

51

Don’t you think there are a lot of “good days” and “right tracks” for Mercedes recently? Monaco and Silverstone are very different tracks…

52

Do you think Nico would have won the Monaco GP if he was not on pole?

Lewis demonstrated that the Merc had a slight advantage over the Red Bull at the start of Silverstone. We do not know if he could have maintained that pace for the race duration. Mark managed to close the gap on Nico showing the pace the Red Bull had in reserve. At Silverstone the Merc and the Red Bull were very closely matched but I still think Red Bull had the faster car.

The question now is what will be the position on the new tyres?

53

Much of the reason it’s considered Mercedes was in the same league as Red Bull is due to Hamilton pulling away from Vettel rather than Nico catching Vettel at Silverstone. The car is still the same.

54

Hamilton leaves McLaren – they fall out of the top 10, under Button and Whitmarsh.

Hamilton arrives at Mercedes – the go from a dog of a car to winning races.

People underestimate the feedback and engineering data generated by a genius driver.

I would be my house that if you swap Button and Hamilton today, the Merc will fall out of the top 10, and McLaren would be back on top.

Credit where credit is due… Merc is now going to attract the best engineers too, because they know their efforts will not be wasted on Hamilton… Button on the other hand, will cause engineers at McLaren to pursue more fruitful ventures…

55

Mclaren have a fundamental problem with the car design, they did not anticipate the aero effect of the pull rod front suspension, making them use a primative front wing. The car lacks a significant downforce, no driver is going to win a normal race (dry, without an accident as bad as Spa last year) in it, not Lewis, not Fernando, not Seb, not Kimi.

56

@jca-

Whilst you are correct in you analysis, you shouldn’t forget that a good driver extracting the maximum from a car lets the engineers know exactly where they are and the quality of his feedback will determine the direction of progression. Jenson nor Perez extract the maximum from the car, so their feedback is already compromised, leading engineers in the wrong direction.

Do not forget the 2009 McLaren started the season much worse than this one but was winning races towards the end of the season in the hands of Lewis. You alsko underestimate the effect of personality in gettingg more out of people you work with. Lewis is more competitive, more impatient and less likely to tolerate failure than Jenson.

57

I understand your point, I just think this problem is insurmountable. I do believe Jenson is on the second level of drivers in terms of talent (the four I mentioned being the first level), but even Alonso only won one race in 2011, the race with severely limited EBD, imo not a normal race for that season, some cars are so bad no driver can bridge the gap to the front.

Mclaren tried to compete with a car in its first ‘generation’ of development against cars in their fifth to second ‘generations’ of development (rb9 the son of rb8 etc.), then over reached with the change to pull rods.

Alonso could compete in last years Ferrari by maximising the cars potential and because Mclaren made too many technical and operational mistakes and Red Bull were forced to change the concept their 2011 car was built around, requiring half the season to really regain most of their losses. Jenson isn’t doing the first, but their opponents are also having a much better start to this season.

The two teams that made the best start to 2009 (new regulations) had huge budgets and weren’t in the 2008 title race. They also chose the right development direction, trying to gain aerodynamic advantage instead of chasing kers like the established leading teams. So they have an advantage, but also a challenge they failed last time. Lets wait and see if they get it right this time.

58

As Hamilton is an engineer what a joker! Probably Ferrari should get Vettel so they can start winning, fans say the darndest things.

59
Colombia Concalvez

Agree with everything, but we all know people don’t want to give Hamilton credit for it. You really don’t think it’s a coincidence that McLaren is suffering now right ?. I knew a long time this would happen to McLaren. Look on tv, McLaren barely get’s air time, it’s all Mercedes-Benz and RBR.

60

We should also remember not to give him all the credit, it is a team effort.

Would Hamilton be scoring more point than Button? I think yes, but that McLaren would still be a dog, sad really, how far back they have fallen from the front runners. The problem is they don’t know why, this does not bode well for 2014.

61

Both Mercedes drivers could be favorites, if they show they can win in a hot climate. This is the key of their success.

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