Reflections on F1 2016 – Mercedes crowns a new champion, but ends with question marks
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Nico Rosberg Lewis Hamilton
Posted By: James Allen  |  30 Dec 2016   |  6:28 pm GMT  |  196 comments

Prior to the 2016 F1 season only Juan Manuel Fangio and Lewis Hamilton had won the F1 world championship at the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix car, but Nico Rosberg added his name to that elite list, winning the championship by five points from Hamilton.

It was hard won, based on a determination to maximise every area after the humiliation of Austin 2015 and losing the title for the second year in a row. It was also a fitting reward for the work Rosberg had done for the team since 2010, helping it to build up to the dominant force in F1.

Nico Rosberg

But in suddenly announcing his retirement at the end of the season, he also threw the team into a difficult position. With fierce competition expected from Red Bull and other rivals next season, Mercedes has to move forward with a new driver who must score consistently from the outset or the Constructors’ Championship will be at risk.

The hot tip is that Valtteri Bottas will get the drive, providing a more or less like-for-like replacement for Rosberg in terms of driving level and consistency at this stage of his career.

Mercedes has dominated F1 in the hybrid turbo power unit era and this was arguably the most dominant season of all – they did not lose a single race where both their cars finished and of the two race wins that escaped them one was due to a collision between drivers in Spain and the other was Malaysia, where Hamilton’s engine failed while leading and Rosberg had a spin at the start.

Mercedes Pascal Wehrlein 2016 Pirelli Test 01, Circuit Paul Ricard

The car, designed under the guidance of former Ferrari designer Aldo Costa, again featured many aggressive design ideas, which pushed the rule book to the limit, showing that it wasn’t just because of the engine that the team was winning races. And they kept on bringing details to the car even relatively late in the season to keep the opposition at arm’s length.

They clearly had plenty of spare capacity to develop next year’s chassis to the dramatic new regulations.

The car’s raw pace was again the key; it took 20 pole positions from 21 races in the season, which set a new all-time record. Starting more often than not from first and second places on the grid, the Mercedes drivers were able to control and dominate the races, even when they had a slow getaway off the start line, which happened surprisingly often.

Winning in F1 is about taking care of all the tangibles on the car and in driver preparation as well as the intangibles, like competitive spirit and driver execution. To leave one of the key tangibles – the clutch at race starts – as a weakness for much of the season was strange, but it did allow some of the other teams to dream.

Daniel Ricciardo managed to split the Mercedes a few times, as did Max Verstappen while the Ferrari drivers also bagged a second place each early on.

Mexico GP 2015 Nico Rosberg Lewis Hamilton

But the championship was only ever going to be an in house Mercedes battle once again and this time Rosberg came out on top. We have written extensively on the championship outcome and the part that luck, reliability and consistency played in winning it for Rosberg and losing it for Hamilton, so there is no need to go over it again here.

Mercedes performed once again at a very high level as a team, but that’s what happens when a team has the winning bug. Race Strategy was generally well done, but again it is easier when you have a very quick car to work with. The one obvious aberration was the final round where the team management tried to intervene with team orders when Hamilton tried to back Rosberg into the pack at the end of the race.

They have since acknowledged that this was not the right thing to do and Rosberg retiring makes for a very interesting dynamic; they needed to patch things up with a disgruntled Hamilton before embarking on a new F1 season in 2017.

Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton had made some uncomplimentary noises during the season about reliability, aware that it was costing him in his title fight, as Rosberg got off to a commanding start. Several times he left the door open for conjecture that reliability issues only happening on his side of the garage meant that Mercedes was favouring Rosberg, without saying it.

Many of his fans were not so reticent.

With Rosberg gone, Mercedes needs Hamilton more than ever and he certainly has the upper hand for the 2017 season.

What did you think of Mercedes’ F1 season 2016? Leave your comments in the section below

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1

Every one who watches F1 knows that Mercedes wanted a German driver to win the championship so they did something to 🇬🇧Lewis’s car scuppered it so nico could win, 🇬🇧 lewis could have wiped the floor with Rosberg so come on we know what was happening

2

Oh please! We all know and understand how tricky a business and sport F1 is with all sorts of mind games and politicking going on. So for Mercedes to have engineered this outcome – which came down to the very last race – is pretty much improbable if not impossible.

3

Tim W.

I get emails telling me about your replies but they don’t appear on the website, so:

1. I have no problem that Lewis Hamilton won one more race than his team mate. Over the season, Nico Rosberg scored five points more than Hamilton. QED.

2. I though Lewis was a breath of fresh air when he arrived in F1, having followed his rise through the ranks. I only changed my mind about him when he began slagging his team mate off and appearing to become distracted by his other activities. You never saw his hero, Ayrton Senna, getting involved in, for example, making music, although he was very good at the mind games!

4

Cash poor. And I have no problem recognising that Nico won the championship, or how it happened for him.
Why is it a problem for you that Lewis likes music, so did Villeneuve, so did D’Ambrosio, did it bother you that they did it? Are you sure that Ayrton never slagged his team mate off? He never took a swipe at Gerhard, but he did nothing but slag Prost off!!

5

Rosberg said a few odd things immediately after he won in the WDC.
He really didn’t enjoy that last race and the pressure clearly became too much for him.
He’s done the right thing in terms of leaving us all guessing as to how he would have performed in 2017 but deep down, he knows he got massively lucky.
Come Melbourne, Rosberg will be forgotten

6

Nico said from kids age that he wanted to be a WDC once like his father.
Lewis wants to be a GröFAZ, grösster Fahrer aller Zeiten, greatest driver of all times.
So it is a difference in the goals here. The difference is that Nico knew and said that luck and hard work is a part of the game and all must come together which happens rarely. Lewis in his GröFAZtism thinks that he is the best and not winning must have any reason but not himself. So he gets rid of the pressure by claiming bad luck, car, engine, tyres, weather, sabotage, not being liked, … Do you really think there is no pressure on Lewis? Are you ignoring the changes in Lewis’ behaviour? Lewis seems like he broke already. Gone are the times of a boy having fun in racing when Lewis’ subconsciousness decided to flee more and more into paranoia.

Nico decided to do a cut and flee into the peace of family. He is not alone with such a decision. Many sportsman did like him, quitting after gold medals, world championships, …

7
The Grape Unwashed

Come on seifenkistler, all the planets aligned for Rosberg in 2016 and he won a lucky WDC. Sure he worked hard, raised his game, but he benefited massively from good luck. Rosberg is smart enough to realise that he’d been trounced in 2015 and was likely to be trounced even more severely in 2017 (as Hamilton was bound to bang home the fact of his superiority like never before).

In short, there were no upsides to Rosberg defending his title, he’d just end up cheapening his achievement of the previous year – and the resultant press would have made his life a misery. Why would anyone put themselves through that? So good luck to Nico, he worked really hard to achieve his life’s ambition, but let’s not pretend he isn’t scarpering ahead of an otherwise inevitable (and prolonged!) humiliation.

8

Hear, hear! I began to lose respect for Lewis Hamilton when he started going on about how Nico Rosberg was privileged, living in Monaco with a World Champion father, while he was just a poor boy from Stevenage whose father held down three jobs to finance his son’s karting. He should be well pleased that he overcame his ‘lowly’ start to win three titles instead of moaning about how unfair it all is. Mechanical failure has been part of motorsport since the first two cars lined up against each other and, last year, Hamilton drew the short straw.

9

Cashpoor, so when Lewis was asked about the contrast between his and Nico’s upbringing, and he answered honestly, you lost all respect for him?! I can’t help feeling that your dislike for Lewis pre dated that interview…..

10

Another email notification while your comment hasn’t appeared yet! OK, Lewis Hamilton is a great driver. There, I said it!

It bothers me that he seems to have an enormous chip on his shoulder that manifests itself in what I consider to be rather immature behaviour. The guy’s in his 30’s and a triple WDC, having won at every level on the way up, and should maybe relax a little and accept that he got beaten last season. My comments have been about his apparent loss of concentration on the day job, not helped by mechanical gremlins and the odd poor start, while his team mate upped his game and reaped the reward.

Here’s to a fresh start for all in 2017.

[All comments go through moderation before appearing on the site, hence the delay – Mod]

11

I heard Bottas went to Brackley for a seat fitting last week, does that mean something?

12

Yes, he’s going to drive for Mercedes

Wehrlein at Sauber, Massa at Williams for one more year

13

James, isn’t it weird that Wehrlein a Merc Protoge joins Sauber that use Ferrari engines? Stroll is a Ferrari Guy hopping into a Williams which use Merc engines … Just seems odd the way the cards fell

14

James, maybe a bit early, but any whispers on who will replace Felipe for 2018?

15
Clarks4WheelDrift

Keke Rosberg comeback, fully supported by Papa Stroll. 😉

I guess their 2018 pilot will depend on how they improve the car in 2017.

After giving over Bottas at short notice, plus chat of the Paddy thing, it still seems strange. Perhaps Williams have negotiated better ‘tuned’ PUs with the latest Merc sofware to jump them forwards.

It’d be nice to see a decent aero Williams that could work the tyres better, drive well on slow tracks, well in the cold and wet and not need to run skinny wings.

16

Clarkes, possible I suppose, although I think Keke might need to join his local weight watchers group first! Nasr seems the more likely route though, he will be old enough to flog Martini by then, and Bernie likes his Brazillians…

17

another one for the conspiracy theories, after Malaysia where there was a 27 point swing in Nico’s favor F1 went to Japan where Lewis had his worst start of the season without contact with another car dropping him down to eighth, even though he cut his way through the field to finish third it meant that the WDC could not be won by Lewis without some sort of failure on NR’s part, it was then announced that Merc had got to the bottom of the bad start issue’s Lewis were having and that they had sorted it out, from the last 4 races of the season we saw that that was the case, my questions would be “how did it take Merc so long for them to realise what the problem was with Lewis’s starts” and “why did they leave it to the point where it was mathamatical impossible for Lewis to win the WDC under his own volition”?

If you want to believe in these conspiracy theories then you could suggest that Merc basically got Nico into a position that he couldn’t lose the WDC unless there was driver error and if that was the case then he didn’t deserve it anyway.

I for one are looking forward to the book coming out in 9 years time, I’m sure it will be an interesting read.

18

Another interesting tidbit. The streak for consecutive wins by a team is 11 by McLaren in 1988. Mercedes got to 10 straight twice in 2016. Those streaks were ended in Spain, and at Malaysia.

19

Everyone has a right to their opinion.
However I’d like to point out a simple truth for the poor deluded Hamilton was sabotaged brigade.
It is so unbelievably hard to manufacture every single component on a F1 car.
Do any of you seriously think that anyone in the entire multi billion dollar operation would think even for a minute about not making something to the exacting standards expected?
If you had any idea how a big end bearing is made you’d be intelligent enough not to suggest something as stupid as someone deliberately making it wrong!
Lewis indirectly stirs up the conspiratorial hot pot due to his absolute inability to accept that he also lost a hat load of points by not being as good as Nico last year.

This inability to see yourself as anything but perfect is of course at the the heart of many top sports people and even top business people.

20

That type of common sense will get you nowhere fast f1canmaker!!

21

So let’s just utilise the Hamilton brigade for a moment.
If, as is occasionally suggested that the Mercedes mechanical/electrical engineers let Lewis down and cost him the title,then this is perhaps recognition of the inequality seen throughout the world today.where clearly the success of a multi billion dollar organisation is as fragile as the ability of a grease monkey who is paid next to nothing compared to those above in the organisation to do their job correctly.
Therefore the role of a successful driver,CEO,team principal or mechanic holds equal importance to success and therefore should recognise equal status and finally an equal financial share in the spoils…………..
Sounds familiar in a very communistic kind of way.
Middle ground is needed by all.

22

only if the same tools and effort were applied to influence those successes.

23

Andrew Benson had a piece about F1 mechanics, and I was flabbergasted at what they made (i.e. not that much, less than expected). Maybe it wasn’t the full picture, who knows, but it seemed a life only appealing to unattached twenty-somethings. Yet there are quite a few older guys in there, most with families one would assume.

24

I’d have done a year in my mid-twenties….what a way to see the world!
Actually, I could take off now too?

25

Slightly poetic justice really. Mercedes had the tyre load data in Monaco 2014, as Mark Hughes very discreetly reported, so they knew Rosberg went off deliberately at Mirabeau, but they supported him and renewed him. Then they had Spa, fined him but kept him, a couple of doubtful incidents in 2015, then Spain this year and renewed him again.

Now the unscrupulous driver they kept choosing has been a bit unscrupulous with them. Signed a 2-year contract and done a runner, dropping them in it for a driver and also for the reigning WDC promotion.

26

@barryF – Because Rosberg is the reigning champion, he’s going to be paid by Mercedes to do PR stuff for the coming year. I hope they do a Bernie and keep him waiting for the cheques.

27

Rodger, he has left the company, those promotional duties are just one of the many responsibilities he walked out on.

28

Lol, yes @Rodger R. And smaller cheques perhaps, because he’s going to become less famous rather quickly, with not being a driver or exactly a racing hero.

29

Their dominance was so great, that it made the sport predictable and boring 😪
Even more than the Ferrari/Shumi eara. It is so clear, that it is as if they using a loophole some where that noby knows of.
Good for them, bad for the sport.
Just praying we get closer competition, and actual racing in 2017, else it will be the last year i am watching/following F1 😐

30

@Mike – As Noby knows, can he tell us about this loophole?

31

Mike, more boring than Ferrari and Schumi? At least we don’t which Merc driver will win, Schumi’s team mates were not allowed to beat him.

32

So everyone is happy with the current closeness of the competition ? Great keep enjoying a one team championship 👍

33

Mike, I’m not suggesting that everyone is happy, I’m sure we all want the competition to be a bit closer. I’m just saying that knowing a Mercedes is going to win, but not which one, is preferable to knowing a Ferrari will win, and which one it will be.

34

Some of these comments about Mercedes not needing Hamilton make me laugh.

The simple fact is Hamilton sells cars for Mercedes, he gets them a great deal of publicity along with their various sponsors Petronas, Bose to name but a few. He’s even on the cover of Time magazine.

As regards his attitude I daresay his attitude to racing/winning and maybe the arrogance that goes with it is no different to many other top sportsmen which is reflected by the marmite attitude from the public. He’s still had a fantastic year and in his mind he will undoubtedly feel that he is still the best driver by far.

What’s Mercedes to do? get rid of him, its never going to happen they simply need a top class driver who when the going gets tough can continue to operate successfully. Of course he’s going to have his “off” days every professional does.

Remember it wasn’t too many years ago when Hamilton was hauling a McLaren around the track that most commentators indicated was virtually an undriveable car especially for the first half of the season.

35

To be fair, i think Bernd Maylander sells more Mercs than any of the F1 drivers.

36

I can’t quite put my finger on why but if Toto were replaced completely by Lauda I’d be much more drawn to the Mercedes team.
Of course it’s unknown whether they’d be the same mighty force they are were it so?

37

Can you imagine Lauda in charge?… it would be more of a comedy act, he would be apologised much more than he currently is for comments made to the media regarding members of the Merc team 😂

I think Toto is a very tiny piece of the puzzle that has made Merc so great over the past three years, Andy Cowell, Aldo Costa and Ross Brawn are the main protagonists to the success of Merc. Toto is a facilitator who creates an environment for the great work to happen but doesn’t actually get involved (sorry Toto), Christian Horner and Franz Tost are impressive in this area also.

38

You need to read Ross Brawn’s book to get an understanding of why Lauda is at Mercedes. It has nothing whatever to do with his ability to run a team, more to do with who his friends are. In 2001 Lauda ran the Jaguar F1 team for a short time, he made a complete horlicks of the job and got the boot.

39

Whether you like it or not Nico Rosberg put together a superb season and remained focussed on achieving his dream. His team mate appeared flustered and unfocussed a lot of the time, distracted by his own celebrity as well as that of those he hung out with off-duty. When things didn’t go his way Lewis Hamilton cried foul and looked for people and things to blame, rather than keeping his head down and staying focussed like his team mate.

As far as I know F1 is still a sport, and a TEAM sport at that, i.e., you win and lose as a team. Anyone who thinks a major manufacturer would seek to sabotage one of its drivers in such a public arena is, I’m afraid, not paýing attention.

Rosberg was a loyal member of Mercedes Benz F1 team for seven years, and a rising star with Williams for four years before that. There is no law that says a driver must defend his title and I don’t blame him for deciding to quit at the top having achieved his goal.

2017 sees a brand new F1 which in essence means a level playing field for all. In reality the richer teams will fare better than their poorer competitors, but Mercedes remaing top dogs is by no means certain. I find it amusing that rule changes over the last 10-20 years have been designed to slow the cars down, but now we are told lap times could be up to five seconds quicker than last season.

Whoever gets the vacànt Mercedes seat will, I’m sure, rise to the occasion, and hopefully keep Hamilton on his toes.

40

Hamilton, a fine driver, needs to grow up and stop the petulant child routine. It’s frankly boring!

41

Guy Brown, I think he is doing just fine as he is, don’t you?

42

…yet, he is an idol to so many here….

43

Lkfe, I think that is because most F1 fans concentrate on what happens on the track, rather than getting bogged down with (and wildly over reacting to) what he just said in an interview, or who he just got photographed with….

44

“We have written extensively on the championship outcome and the part that luck, reliability and consistency played in winning it for Rosberg and losing it for Hamilton, so there is no need to go over it again here.”

People still don’t seem to have grasped it though, so why don’t we have a recap 😀

45

Great season apart from the pr disaster at the last race. They should have been given total free reign

46

Fantastic season, even if it was a pitty that the drivers were very rarely fighting againt each other and also Hamiltons very poor reliability. A bit overshadowed also by Rosbergs retirement and the very obviously poor relationship between Hamilton and the team management. A team management, which – while certainly there is no conspiracy – made it very obvious on many occasions which driver they prefered to win this year, which contributed to their relationship with Hamilton breaking down (it’s not just Hamiltons fault, far from it). It will be interesting to see if they will try to patch things up on a long term bases with him or if nothing can be repaired and they will just try to get 2017 done and dusted and approach for 2018 a new leading driver.

@DeWeberis Hamilton never said that his side caused his reliability issues, but that he didnt understood why they shuffled the mechanics around, which undoubtely can mess up initially existing procedures and may have contributed to some issues, which is exactly the reason why he doesnt want another change in 2017.

@Sir Tease He is praising in every interview his team though, even after losing.

47

Hit the nail on the head Simon!

48

@simon
Well said Simon, and welcome to the hornets nest😉
And a happy new year🍻

49

Read between the lines about what Niki Lauda said;, if they’d known Rosberg was going to retire, they wouldn’t have concentrated on him so much. Hmmm, so much said and not said at the same time

50

@richardd
Did Lauda say that?? Where did you hear that? Interesting 🤔

51
The Grape Unwashed

Arguably, Mercedes has always tended to side with the driver who looked most likely to win the championship. In previous years when Hamilton had the upper hand it wasn’t much of a problem because they were defending both their brand image and their star driver, but last season – thanks to a succession of lucky breaks – that meant preferring the stalwart over the talent, the most shocking example being Spain where the team seemed to place the blame overwhelmingly at Hamilton’s feet (especially Lauda) by defending Rosberg’s crude block. And of course Abu Dhabi, where they used a cock and bull excuse to demand that Hamilton speed up.

Perhaps if Rosberg had stayed on, Hamilton could have demolished the German in 2017 and seen the team support swing fully behind him once more, which would have gone a long way to patching things up; but as it stands, there is likely to remain a lingering sense of distrust between the two parties.

The irony is that Mercedes didn’t really need a Hamilton level talent over the past three seasons – any quality driver (including Rosberg) was more than capable of securing them three titles on the trot. But now, with the competition closing in, they need the best driver they can get, just at the point when the relationship is at its lowest point. Hamilton’s contract is up at the end of next season, if McLaren or Renault can demonstrate real potential, they might secure a huge scalp for 2018.

52

His contract goes to 2018. It’s not option-activated either, afaik.

Meanwhile, we have Seb and Fernando’s contracts expiring next year.

53

Nobody will touch Seb he is loosing his mojo. Maybe Mclaren will.
Alonso may go to Renault but he didn’t do a good job at Ferrari and is now an the oldest man on the grid. Unless Massa comes back. Which is a weird choice.

54
The Grape Unwashed

My mistake KRB, another year will be helpful for Mercedes to patch up the relationship. Regarding Vettel and Alonso, both are high maintenance and temperamental: the first seems to get into sulks which cause his form to drop (e.g. his last season at Red Bull, this season at Ferrari), the other has shown that he will go to any lengths to nobble a teammate – including shopping his own team to the FIA! The sport’s most in demand drivers have always (well, for at least the last 30 years) been ruthlessly self-centred. Still, a proper German star may appeal to the team.

Mercedes’ management might be getting sick at Hamilton’s disloyalty, but when has any big star placed the team’s interests above his own? If this is becoming a problem (and some of Wolff’s comments in his final Channel 4 interview suggest it might be), then I’d suggest it’s a problem with the team’s unrealistic expectations, not with the driver! Wolff in particular seems to expect his drivers to act as loyal and subservient employees, but top drivers simply don’t work that way: if you want the big name drivers to work for you, you have become slaves to their talent – Dennis, Todt, Horner all did this.

I hope McLaren and/or Renault hit a rich vein in 2017/2018, because Hamilton needs a change of scenery – his time at Mercedes has profited both, but he needs to move on to a team which doesn’t micromanage behaviour on track.

55

Lewis will end up at Ferrari.
Marchionne wants him in his team.

56
The Grape Unwashed

Big Vern, I can’t see that happening. Ferrari is in such a mess and it looks likely to remain that way… Unless Hamilton has expressed a desire to drive for Ferrari one day, but I can’t remember him saying so. To me, Ferrari just doesn’t look capable of getting its act together.

57

With Rosberg Mercedes lost the better of the two for testing and car development. Something which is needed with new rules.
Speed is not all. Being able to work as a team to develop the car is a big part of the game.
If Mercedes did two different setups to test which is best: if the one of Lewis would have been better he would claim the other for copying it.
If the other driver asked the engineers to do a certain setup he thinks is good and it proves to be better than the one of Lewis – Lewis will demand fairplay and having the same setup.
This year without an experienced driver at his site Lewis will have to show if he is at the level of the best drivers, ones which can put high input to development like Schumi was able to do.

58

Selfenkister, where did you get this idea that Nico was the best at testing and development? Wanting something to be true doesn’t make it so….

59

@seifenkistler – admit it, you’re making this up as you go along. With limited testing, drivers cannot develop cars any longer. Car setups are shared by both drivers in all teams. During practice one driver will do high fuel runs with one tyre, the other driver will test a different tyre, etc, etc. You conjecture is simply rubbish from the bottom of a glass.

60

Don’t know where you get your ideas from. If anything, Hamilton raised Rosberg’s level in the past few years, by showing him what was possible in those cars.

Rosberg-Schumi didn’t move that car forward. It didn’t advance in 2010 or 2011, relative to others, and went backwards in 2012.

61

The raise of Mercedes was because of Tyregate. The only influence Lewis had was because with two german drivers Mercedes would have been punished way harder. But with an british hero at Mercedes the punishment was close to non existent.

62

Seifenkister, you really think it was that one test that solved all of Mercs tyre wear issues?! Still waiting for you to inform us all of why you think that Nico was the better development driver….

63

KRB, if i recall -at the end of the V8 era, the Merc was plenty quick, but it just burnt through it’s tyres?

64

Hamilton’s contract is up at the end of next season….

Polite correction – his contract runs until the end of 2018.

65
The Grape Unwashed

Thanks C63, quite right.

66

Firstly congrats to NR.
You cannot blame him for doing the job.
The same cannot be said for the Merc management. They tried at every corner to disrupt LH in his per suit of the WDC. Even in the closing stages of the last race they showed ,amplified their lack of racing aptitude. I was most disappointed with Paddy Lowe. His “instruction” could not have been done at a worse time and he knew it!
Lauda released a statement that LH had wrecked his room after a race just when he had the momentum in the championship and was told to retract the statement and apologise to LH.
NR,s retirement just proves my point. He has dropped the team in it from 40,000 ft without bothering to look back. This shows a complete lack of respect. I can only imagine the headlines if LH had done the same.
Don,t be surprised if LH wins next season then returns to Maclaren or finishes his carreer with Ferrari.

67

Even though the domination of Mercedes has made the sport less of a spectacle, and more predictable, (leading Mercedes into the first corner wins) one can’t help but marvel at the incredible job they’ve done as a team, from pit stops to strategies, management, etc.
The W07 was a masterpiece, the only weakness I can think of is that it seems fares worse than its rivals in dirty air.
For the last 3 years, the Mercedes has been the only car that could have won the Championship, it wasn’t even possible to split the drivers in the standings as was done in every year of the Red Bull domination era.
Frankly, I don’t think the car gets enough credit, even from Mercedes, too much emphasis on the drivers.

68

Given the utter dominance of the Mercs for the last 3 years, there accomplishments don’t seem as great at the Red Bulls 4 previous years but does cement ROS as a great driver to overcome HAM and his brilliance.

But credit due to getting the regs in their favour, starting earlier on their engine development before regs introduced and being too control F1 to its detriment.

69

providing a more or less like-for-like replacement for Rosberg in terms of driving level and consistency at this stage of his career

at this stage of his career

Seriously, James? I really don’t think Bottas would’ve been able to pull off some of the great quali laps that Rosberg has over the years. And I don’t expect ballsy passes like the one on Verstappen in Abu Dhabi or even Hockenheim from Valtteri, because he is less of the last-minute-lunge drivers and more of the wait-for-the-best-timing drivers. I do agree on the consistency part though. But not driving level.

70

I agree Sravan, I would estimate that Nico is the most “hated” driver in this forum. The reality (for those able to concieve it) is that despite his one shortcoming as a driver (he lacks agression and finesse in wheel to wheel combat), he was clinical in qualifying, consistent in starting, and focused for 21 race weekends, and thats what won him a championship!
I don’t estimate that Bottas is at his level, but he may develop.
If he is, then it will just confirm that it’s more about the car than anyone thought.

71

Lkfe. I would have said that Lewis still wears the “most hated” crown. Nico’s clumsiness in close quarter combat is only one of his draw backs as a driver, and only one of the reasons I don’t like him. I didn’t like what he did in Austria, that wasn’t clumsy, it was deliberate. To then lie about it straight after the race was insulting to the people who just watched the incident. I didn’t like Monaco 14 either, or Spa 14. Some put these incidents down to ruthlessness, I say it shows a man prepared to cheat to get what he wants.

72

Tim,
While I agree there is a fair bit of vitriol directed at Lewis, on a net basis he has a massive fan base that offsets it well and truely -on top of the fact that there are very few (even amoungst the haters) who question his talent.
Conversely, I don’t reckon Nico could phone a friend if he had to. He doesn’t seem to have any nationalist backing (from wherever he’s actually from), and he is regularly marked down (sometimes fairly), by many super fans of other drivers -most notably by those of his team mate.
He’s the fall guy of the F1 grid -without an army to defend him!
With the possible exception of Monaco (which on the face of it looks pretty dodgy), all of the other incidents are him just getting his elbows out and showing that he’s there to race as well (albeit without the finese of the top notchers). It’s nothing Lewis or Seb, or Nando haven’t done.
If the roles had been reversed in Abu Dhabi and it was Nico backing them up, i guess you would have added that to your list as well?

73

LKFE, yes in terms of net fans, I guess Lewis does win that contest! Of the three incidents we spoke of, Monaco is for me the easiest to understand. The BBC interviewed Toto and Niki for their 2014 end of season round up programme, and while it was clear that they both thought it was deliberate, Niki made it even clearer that he thought it was ok, and he would have done the same in Nico’s shoes! For me Monaco 14 was like a footballer taking a dive in the box, cynical and against the rules, but it’s what happens. Spa and Austria were much more like a two footed, studs up tackle from behind in my view, deliberately initiating contact is never ok, giving the other guy a choice of wether to back out of the move or risk contact is one thing, but to deliberately drive into a rival is quite another. Seb in Turkey with Mark, and Lewis in Canada this year, or Nico in Canada 14 are examples of “giving the other guy the choice”, and hard but fair racing. Maybe you shouldn’t be that tough on your team mate, but the drivers think of themselves first and the teams know this. It’s a fine line sometimes, but I genuinely cannot think of an example of Fernando, Seb or Lewis crossing it. Michael did, Ayrton did, but this doesn’t make it ok.
backing up in Abu Dhabi? if it had been the other way around I wouldn’t have thought there was anything wrong with it, it’s a rarely used but legitimate tactic and if Nico didn’t like it he should have passed him.

74

Yes Mercedes did an outstanding job in 2016 and the continuous improvement to the W07 but I will ask this of you all.. was there a better chassis than the RB10 ?.. can anyone imagine what may have happened with 40bhp more from the Renault PU?? If Renault can be within 20bhp of the Mercedes theres going to be a hell of alot Dutch / Australian celebrations

75

Gosh I hope you’re right Elie!
There might be something else to write about other than conspiracy theories against the marginalised minority!

76
Clarks4WheelDrift

I don’t think they really need Lewis more than ever. I think he is on thinner ice than ever with Merc.

Ok, they have little choice for ’17 as Nico beat Lewis to the title, fulfilled his ambition and retired at the last minute, because he couldn’t be bothered with further mental stress of racing and dealing with Lewis week in week out.

They have Lewis for 2017 and if their car, with PU turned up, is even half as dominant then they’ll have the pick of the grid for 2018. A team with Dan Ric and Alonso, or Alonso and Sainz, Vettel and Sainz, or Vet and Alo, would give them a far stronger lineup. Plus a far more grateful lineup, with less ranting on about how hard done by Lewis is when he drops a run of races to a teammate or loses the odd pole. Heck, by 2018 a Vandy/Ocon lineup will be stronger than Lewis/Lewis’s Number 2 just to keep their team running smoothly.

Interesting to hear Toto in the end of season review saying how much of a team player and gent Nico was for Monaco VS how Lewis in Abu Dhabi said he’d dominate the final race in style to make sure the team wins before backing their cars up to be undercut and messed with. (Twas entertaining though, wondering if he’d move from extreme slowdown to brake testing Nico on the final two laps.)

Wondering one thing though. When Lewis whinges about not changing anything for 2017 and keeping his guys for 2017, does he mean getting back ‘his guys’ from 2015, or keeping ‘his guys’ (that he slagged off) from 2016?

Or will it not matter if it’s easier to beat Bottas 😉

77

Clarkes, Lewis’ contract runs until the end of 2018. Fernando will be 37 and hardly a good long term bet. Dan the man will have either resigned with RB or gone somewhere else by then. I doubt your “thin ice” claim is anything like accurate, seems to me like the Merc/Hamilton relationship is stronger now than it ever was?

78

“Ok, they have little choice for ’17 as Nico beat Lewis to the title, fulfilled his ambition and retired at the last minute, because he couldn’t be bothered with further mental stress of racing and dealing with Lewis week in week out.”

Let me rephrase that for you so that it’s accurate:

“Ok, they have little choice for ’17 as Nico lucked into the title, fulfilled his ambition and retired at the last minute, because he knew he couldn’t compete with Lewis week in week out based on skill.”

79

@jim
Way to go👍

80

“A team with Dan Ric and Alonso, or Alonso and Sainz, Vettel and Sainz, or Vet and Alo, would give them a far stronger lineup. Plus a far more grateful lineup, with less ranting on about how hard done by Lewis is”

RIC – Yes I think he’s bloody good, but the toys came out of the pram at Monaco, and Spain from memory.
Alonso – GP2 engine, Spygate, leaving Ferrari, etc, etc, etc.
Sainz – Seems to have been calm as far as I can remember, and decent speed, but hasn’t had the chance to prove himself in a great car yet.
Vettel – Tell Charlie to f8ck off, and numerous other complaints about other drivers this year. One trick pony (albeit a 4 times WDC one) and is either not as fast as he was, needs a car to suit his style, or suffers motivation problems.

These guys are all bloody good, and they’re all hyper competitive and will lose the plot, or demand answers as per pretty much all the very good drivers before them. So not sure of your point as all except Sainz will “moan” based on previous knowledge. Speedwise we know Alonso and Hamilton were pretty close in 2007 (a long time ago), I don’t think Vettel’s that fast (he was out qualified by Kimi this year) and also had had ass handed to him by RIC in the same team (if anyone uses lack of motivation as an excuse then that says a lot about Vettel). Sainz is unproven.

I qualify this with my own statement – these guys are all spectacularly good by any standards, and it’s very small differences between them that differentiate a great from a legend.

81

@clarks
“That he slagged of”???
I’ve never heard Lewis slag his mechanics of🤔🤔

82
Thread the Needle

Aldo Costa another designer Ferrari felt they didn’t need

Bottas probably the best driver available for next year, interesting to see if Mercedes want to change again in 2018

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