Mercedes prepared for team orders “scenarios”

2014 Australian Grand Prix

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Mercedes are prepared to impose team orders during Sunday’s race if they find themselves in a position to do so, said motorsport director Toto Wolff.

With the W05s carrying their testing form into the first day of running in Australia the team could find themselves with both drivers at the head of the field with no one to race but each other.

Given the fragility of the new cars and the importance of saving fuel under the new rules, Mercedes may intervene to call off any competition between their drivers to ensure they both finish and do not compromise each other.

“Yes we had those conversations [about team orders] and I think it’s important to have those conversations” said Wolff during the team principals’ press conference.

“Both of the drivers know each other for quite a long time, they have been team mates before back in karting. We were caught out by surprise last year in Malaysia and we don’t want this to happen again.

“It’s just a very good discussions we have, they are not only very talented and fast but also very intelligent. They treat each other in a very fair way and went through some of the scenarios and I think we’re in a good place.”

“It depends on circumstances,” he added.

Wolff said the team are not taking their early form for granted after Lewis Hamilton’s car failure during the first practice session.

“If you look after free practice two and analyse that, that was quite satisfying,” he said. “On one lap the pace was good and the long run was good as well.”

“But you see how quickly it goes. In the free practice one Lewis went out and after half a lap the car stopped.

“So you need to be very careful because it’s just enough to have a little problem and the race or the qualifying will be finished.”

2014 Australian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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29 comments on “Mercedes prepared for team orders “scenarios””

  1. Steph (@stephanief1990)
    14th March 2014, 10:31

    I’m sure Kravitz (or Simon- it was very early) said on Sky that Mercedes would not be using team orders. They’ve either changed their minds incredibly quickly or Sky got a bit mixed up.

    1. A team order is not always “hold position” or “let the other one pass”. Sometimes team order can simply be “keep fighting” too.

      I think what this article states above everything else is that the Mercedes drivers are probably going to do what their team asks them to do. Now, what the team tells them to do is not discussed in this article and is anyone’s guess.

      My hunch is that without Ross Brawn, we will not see one driver favored over the other.

    2. Don’t believe too much on anything Ted says. The man failed to see Williams rear trick for most of the pre-season. I think Lewis has the number 1 driver contract but how much will that mean?

      1. Number 1 driver contract? Doubt it.

  2. The only problem with that is that I’ve yet to meet a racing driver who had to be asked to keep fighting. So, yeah, I think we know exactly what a team order really is in this case.

    1. EDIT: It was supposed to be a reply to Sumedh above

    2. Grosjean Korea 2013. But yeah, I agree with you about the ‘definition’ of a team order.

    3. The orders are necesarry, especially this season, considering the ridiculous fuel limit that has been imposed. It does the teams no good to have their drivers battling only to end up having to pull off the circuit because they pushed too hard and ran out of fuel. Ridiculous, I know, but it’s what the rules makers of F1 have left us with. Neutered cars, and the world’s most highly paid babysitters behind the wheel.

  3. Although I like the philosophy of letting team mates fight, this can only be done if all your rivals are doing the same. Otherwise, it’s like bringing a knife to a gun fight, Withmarsh style.

  4. I bet merc have chosen their number 1, no doubt the highest paid one

    1. I doubt that very much. They’ve got two excellent drivers. I would imagine they will wait until half-way through the season and then they will look at which one of them is leading and by how much. Then – at some point after that – they may start favouring the one leading.

      1. And until then the one who is lapping faster anyway.

  5. petebaldwin (@)
    14th March 2014, 11:25

    I hate team orders but even I would understand them stopping Nico and Lewis from racing towards the end if they’re 1st and 2nd.

    With the amount of cars stopping that I’m expecting – you’d have to be crazy to throw away maximum points this early in the season.

  6. Noh, really Keith? Following your blog, I was under the impression only Ferrari and Ferrari drivers use team orders.

    1. Most cries of bi as aren’t quite so nonsensical- who was the biggest team order story about last year?

      1. Either Vettel-Webber at Malasya or Alonso-Massa at Monza. I think in Malasya Mclaren told Perez to back off Button too. Every once in a while there was something from Lotus and Mercedes. And thats all we heard, I guarantee every team used team orders at some point. Maybe not Marussia, because… well… sorry Chilton.

      2. Engles is not my preferred language, but I sence ironi (?).
        Right. Look in historical articles and calculate how many times and for how long time past the actual event this site continues mentioning, and aggressively reminding of a team order done by Ferrari vs a team order done by “any other team”. Ta taa

  7. AS USUAL, they kill the whole show!!! Oh God, please bring back the days of Alain Prost vs. Ayrton Senna, when drivers pushed cars to the limit and RACED eachother!!!

    They bring a ton of stuff: DRS, Kers, Ers, VGJJFG FJFJFJ ….etc etc. As long as they don’t let drivers RACE EACHOTHER, it’s all pointless.

    1. I think you’re missing the point that these cars are still very new, very fragile, with durability and fuel consumption still somewhat of a question for the teams. If the cars had been so new and untested in 1988, it would have been the same story. Plus, part of the reason those drivers were allowed to race was that their advantage was so huge and their reliability good enough that even if things went wrong, they still had the championship in hand.

      1. GB (@bgp001ruled)
        14th March 2014, 19:42

        it is not that the cars are new and fragile: in this age no team is happy to see their cars fighting each other. too little to gain, too much to loose…

    2. Or we could go back even further to where drivers hopped in their teammates’ cars to finish the race.

    3. Drivers have never ‘raced their cars to the limit’ all the way through a race. People seem to forget that even back in the 80’s tyres needed nursing, engines exploded regularly and cars generally broke when abused. It makes me so angry when people say ‘flatout racing like the old days’ as drivers have always had issues to manage during races. Please stop this silly farce of making comments like that as it is wholly untrue and detracts from the racing of today.

  8. Probably sensible for the team to at least have this discussion beforehand if there’s a possibility that it could become an issue during the race, rather than reactively imposing something during the race and annoying one of the drivers.

    That said, with reliability and fuel issues coming into play, and the possibility that Mercedes’ apparent advantage isn’t as great over a race distance as it has looked in practice, a scenario where team ordrs are necessary might never arise.

  9. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    14th March 2014, 15:29

    I really think it’s so early to start saying who should be first. I think that at least the only “acceptable” order should be (for the reliability issues mentioned) to hold possitions if they both are 1st and second. But a Germany 2010 again is totally unacceptable. Even more, I will respect the second, held driver still pushes, as Vettel did in Malaysia. We all remember Rosberg’s “you owe me one” in the same race. He showed last year he’s a match for Hamilton, let them show who’s best this time.

    1. I don’t think even Mercedes know which driver will be stronger (if either) this season, so it would be fairly pointless choosing one over the other. With reliability the way it is their top driver could easily fall out of the running at some point too, so having an even spread of points makes more sense this year.

  10. They should toss it like DC/MH did back in ’98. Whoever qualifies higher gets the win at the end!

    1. GB (@bgp001ruled)
      14th March 2014, 19:45

      i didnt know that! a very wise policy!!

  11. “Mercedes prepared for team orders “scenarios”” AKA Rosberg be prepared to be second

  12. Team orders in the 1st round? Totally unnecessary! Stinks of favouritism. Yes we’ve seen it before, doesn’t mean it’s right!

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