Neither Mercedes driver would have won – Lowe

2014 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Neither Mercedes driver was in a position to win the Hungarian Grand Prix due to the interference of the Safety Car on their strategies, according to executive director for technical Paddy Lowe.

Lewis Hamilton’s refusal to obey an instruction from Mercedes to let his team mate past earlier in the race raised questions over whether he has cost Nico Rosberg victory.

Rosbreg’s race had already been disrupted by the early appearance of the Safety Car.

“We opened up a healthy lead from the start in tricky conditions until the race was overturned by a Safety Car,” Lowe explained. “For reasons we don’t yet understand, the safety car split the pack and Nico got stuck behind it because he had been unable to pit before it was called out.”

Mercedes ran different strategies for Rosberg, who started from pole position, and Hamilton, whose raced began in the pit lane.

“We put Nico on a three-stop strategy and Lewis on a two-stop,” said Low. “This caused an interaction which we explained as best we could to each driver.”

At this point Hamilton, on medium tyres and not due to stop again, rebuffed a request to let Rosberg past, as his team mate was on softs and had another stop to make.

“In the event, neither strategy was capable of recovering the win given the impact of the safety car periods,” said Lowe.

Hamilton said he didn’t let Rosberg past because, although they were on different strategies, “I was in the same race as him”. He added he was “shocked” to get the instruction.

“Just because he had one more stop than me doesn’t mean I wasn’t in the same race as him. And naturally if I’d have let him past, he would have had the opportunity to pull away and when he does pit, he’s going to come back and overtake me, so I was very, very shocked that the team would ask me to do that, to be able to better his position.

“But to be honest, he didn’t get close enough to overtake but I was never going to lift off and lost ground to Fernando [Alonso] or Daniel [Ricciardo] to enable him to have a better race. So that was a bit strange.”

2014 Hungarian 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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76 comments on “Neither Mercedes driver would have won – Lowe”

  1. Mercedes this season is like Williams in 1992, they clearly have a comfortable pace advantage over the next best car every weekend, but consistent screw-ups (both team and reliability) prevent them from finishing 1-2 every race.

    1. That’s what’s made Redbull so great the last four years, not only have they had a great car the teams strategies have more often than not been exceptional.

      1. Red Bull were massively aided by Webber’s poor starts. It meant that Vettel was free to pursue his own race while Webber was fighting through the pack to get to the top. Not Vettel’s or RB’s fault though, but clearly not the same situation as this.

        1. @evered7 not just bad starts but Webber’s constant struggle to make the Pirellis last and go as fast as Vettel did.

          Indeed, not the same situation.

    2. like Williams in 1992, they clearly have a comfortable pace advantage over the next best car every weekend, but consistent screw-ups (both team and reliability) prevent them from finishing 1-2 every race.

      Errr… what? Williams had quite outstanding reliability in 92 (obviously compared to others in that time-period), and the only strategy-screw-up of that season was in Spa (the 12th of 16 races).

      Oh, and Mansell letting Patrese past in Monza, not because of a team-call, but just in order to demonstrate how much faster he was and that he could overtake Patrese back anytime he wanted to also isn´t that probable to happen today, too ;)

      1. @crammond

        Errr… what? Williams had quite outstanding reliability in 92 (obviously compared to others in that time-period)

        Williams had the best car in just about every race in 1992, but “only” won 10 out of 16 races. 4 years earlier McLaren won 15 out of 16 races, so no, Williams’s reliability was anything but “outstanding”.

        I suspect that Merc will dominate in Spa though, that circuit is trailer-made for them.

        1. Let´s go through those 6 races Williams had not won:

          1. Monaco: I think Williams have not won that mostly because of Senna being outstanding. No reliability issue.

          2. Canada: Driver-error-DNFs are not car-reliability-issues.

          3. Hungary: Again Mansell finished, so no reliability-DNF. As his second place was enough for him to secure the title, he didn´t exactly looked like he was pushing or even trying to win, though.

          4. Belgium: The aforementioned strategy-screw-up in a race with mixed and changing conditions. Still managed to finish at position 2 and 3.

          5. Italy: Yes, finally, reliabilty-DNFs.

          6. Australia: Mansell had a (rather bizarre) collision with Senna, Patrese had a reliability-DNF.

  2. I beg to differ – the time that Ham lost maintaining his tyres and defending would’ve been negated if he did two soft stints at the end. Hamilton would’ve won the race.

    1. I believe just one stint on the softs would have won it for Hamilton.

      1. +1 it seemed obvious to me that within a lap of getting the team order, and having already complained about tyres, that Hamilton should have been pleading over the radio to get on the softs and race Rosberg proper to the end – with track position he would have got first call on the stop as well. Mercedes have tried repeatedly to avoid their drivers going wheel-to-wheel, it would be the worst case for the sport to observe the WDC going one way or the other because of this

      2. Agreed. Maybe it wasn’t such a great plan for Mercedes to let Ross Brawn go. He’d have brought Hamilton in for softs as soon as it became apparent that the Hamster was having trouble getting by Alonso. And Rosberg demonstrated that the car was much faster on softs, certainly quick enough to get by Alonso and probably Ricciardo too.

    2. Agreed. Putting Hamilton on the prime was a strange move.

    3. Ryan (@ryanisjones)
      27th July 2014, 20:16


    4. +10000

    5. Until we get an official explanation for the decision to put him on the primes then I don’t think I’ll ever understand that strategy call @traverse @jleigh @john-h @ryanisjones

    6. At least it was a cracker and gives us something to talk about for a month

    7. Hamilton also had all the fresh softs to use, whereas others were putting on used softs! :S

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        28th July 2014, 6:36

        hmm, didn’t even think about that – this could have truly been a golden opportunity for Mercedes to win from pit lane. Were Alonso’s and Vettel’s soft tyres used which they did so many laps on?

      2. And that’s why Lewis looked blue on the podium, because he knew that he could win that race. That plus the orders :)

  3. Are the team that stupid to not realise the primes were the wrong tyres to be on?

    Lowe is talking rubbish, they ruined Hamilton’s chances of victory and Rosberg a chance of the podium.

    1. Hamilton MAY have got second….RIC was too fast

      1. Debatable. Yes, Ricciardo was quicker on new softs than Hamilton and Alonso on old mediums. But he wasn’t quicker than Rosberg on softs. Hamilton would have had a good chance at the win and Rosberg might have been second had he not wasted time waiting for Hamilton to let him through.

    2. Soft was the better tire to be on in terms of both longevity and grip this weekend. I can’t for the life of me fathom why they put mediums on Hamilton’s car… He did a mighty job tho keeping them to the end.

    3. Quite often the prime tyre actually works very well in the race, as the track surface has more grip and the cars are lighter at the end of the race than during the long-ish stints of Friday. Having said that, I expected everyone to run just the options all the time.

      1. The bizarre thing is, they had Williams as a Guinea Pig, who were both slow and suffering degradation.

    4. Hamilton had plenty of new softs also. It was a bit silly, really.

      1. @vettel1 exactly, before the race all the talk regarding a good race for Hamilton was that he had plenty of new softs! Amazing to think 3 of them were just left sitting at the back of the garage!

        1. I don’t really see the confusion. LH on primes allowed hm to do one less stop and that is always a viable strategy to consider. I think too many folks are looking at this with the luxury of hindsight.

          At the time of the order, NR should have been so much faster than LH that an order should not even have been needed…perhaps just a reminder to LH that NR was gobs faster, but in hindsight, he wasn’t. In hindsight, NR was gobs faster on his last stint when LH was now on old primes. Better that LH should have been on softs too, but had to stop an extra time too? Who knows. It’s not the strategy they opted for for LH. He would have lost 22 seconds for the extra pit, but been on faster tires for two shorter stints.

          1. @robbie but Alonso proved that the Soft tyre was quicker and just as durable. If Merc had watched Williams they should have known this…I did!

          2. Easier said than done. Merc was going by their data for their situation. You telling me if LH’s primes were gone in the end, softs wouldn’t have been worse? I’d suggest without an extra stop and LH trying to make softs stretch that long, NR would have blown by him.

          3. Judging by Alonso I believe Hamilton would have been either further down the road, or have more tyrs left at the end of the race had he been on the softs. Even if this wasn’t the case, the sensible thing for Hamilton to do would be to cover Rosberg, put the Softs on, and then, if he felt another stop would be needed, take it.

            To me it’s clear that the team were focused on Rosberg winning, and Hamiltons strategy suffered because of this, as they weren’t prepared to cover Rosberg. When you split the strategy, you are willingly giving someone the slower strategy, and to me it seems obvious that they were giving that to Hamilton, even though he was the better bet for the win.

  4. Not buying it. Rosberg was only in what 5th after the Sc. And did zero to help his situation on the track about it until the next stop. All the While the leader was pulling away. This is not Monza but when you have a car with more than 1s on the guy ahead you better get it done.

    1. But remember that directly after the 1st SC the track was still very wet offline & as they said on the commentary a few times, Going onto the wet part of the track to try an overtake was very risky & during that stint nobody was really doing much passing, In fact nobody was really even pulling offline to even try it.

    2. Rosberg lost his edge once he had to move the brake bias forward – thus he even locked up trying to pass Vergne and fell back from then on.

  5. On another note, I suspect that overnight, Mercedes found out that their base (Brackley) is in fact located in Britain, not Germany. As a result, they are now screwing over Rosberg and favoring Hamilton. #conspiracy

    1. wooooo +1 COTD

    2. Nothing went wrong for Rosberg today other than his poor pace and lack of ability to overtake.

      I appreciate your point though 😉

      1. There was nothing wrong with Nico’s pace. He was the fastest car on track in the 1st stint & built a huge lead until the SC came out.
        And through the rest of the race his pace was fine, Not as if Lewis was massively faster at any point.

        As to not been able to overtake, As I pointed out above it was very wet offline & during the stint where he was behind the STR nobody was doing any passing because of how wet it was offline.
        Lewis was also stuck behind Vettel at that point, Again unable to overtake & not moving offline to try to overtake again because of how wet it was.

        1. Ryan (@ryanisjones)
          27th July 2014, 20:21

          A lap after Vettel and Rosberg pit, Hamilton overtakes Vergne. I don’t think it was the track as much as Rosberg not going for it.

          Vettel is a world champion in the 2nd/3rd fastest car. Vergne… Not so much.

          1. Lewis had an easier time passing Vergne because by that point his tyres had gone, He pitted the lap Lewis passed him with his lap times having fallen off the cliff.

            If Nico was simply not going for it then how do you explain why nobody else was overtaking anybody during that stint either?
            And why he then went on to pass several cars over the following 2 stints.

      2. He forgot how to overtake now the German GP has passed and he’s gone back to feeling like a resident of Monaco. ;)

  6. “For reasons we don’t yet understand, the safety car split the pack”

    I think it was quite obvious why the pack got “split”.
    Rosberg was unlucky because he had just passed the pit entry before the safety car came out, and so couldn’t pit straight away unlike the cars in 4th place on-wards.
    He was also unfortunate that he had not made it to the pit exit before the safety car came out, so he got stuck behind it, else he could have carried on round and still pit without loosing much advantage.
    In Indy Car they temporarily shut the pits for this exact reason, so that no one gains an advantage. In this case, I think it helped spice things up.

    1. They tried that in F1 and during the refuelling era it caused massive problems. Perhaps they can bring that back now that they only change tyres.

      Although the emphasis seems to be more on “show” rather than fairness in how they design the regulations these days.

  7. Merc favoured Nico when they should have been neutral. Lewis had a chance for the Win if they pitted him for softs when they pitted Nico.

    1. Yeah. I was shouting the same while I’ve watched the race. Instead of loosing time with diferent strategies the team should have seen the bigger picture by then and give a both of them a chance to win or to at least have a try.

  8. People above talking about why they didn’t pit Lewis for softs.

    Remember that he had a fairly long stint to do & given how his mediums were pretty much shot at the end perhaps they just didn’t think he would have been able to get to the end on the softs & didn’t think an extra stop was the best strategy.

    1. Alonso just about managed to get the soft’s to last over a long stint, But remember that the Ferrari is one of the easiest cars on the tyres & Fernando one of the best at tyre/pace management.

      1. James Allison probably disagrees with you, the Ferrari isn’t easy at all on its tyres.

    2. They could have pitted Hamilton for softs just before they pitted Rosberg.

      Although if they had done that, then that would also allow Alonso and Ricciardo to pit without losing a place to them.

      So they spilt their two drivers strategy wise to keep pressure on the top 2. If Ricciardo and/or Alonso stopped Hamilton might stay ahead. If they didn’t stop then Rosberg would be able to overtake the lot. Although they already saw that Rosberg is not much of an overtaker.

      I’d say they pretty much sacrificed Hamilton’s strategy to allow Rosberg a chance to win the race.

      1. I think your last sentence sums it up.

        1. +1

    3. Alonso was running in clean air for many laps which would have definitely helped him prolong his stint. Whether Lewis would have been able to get to the lead to make it work is another question.

    4. But they already gave Rosberg another set of softs till the end of the race. Why was Hamilton different in that case?

  9. Can not wait for a explanation to the team orders. Ham is doubting them big time now you can tell, utterly shocking really. People need to remember Ros was still ahead after SC.

    1. Forgetting hindsight for a second, isn’t the explanation obvious and something we have seen umpteen times? The two drivers were on different strategies. NR was supposed to be much faster at the time of the order. He somehow wasn’t. Had they waited a few more laps they would have seen that and probably not issued any order. LH should not have been shocked, knowing that NR had an extra stop to make. The only thing shocking would have been if they literally had asked LH to slow to let NR by. They, I’m sure, simply expected NR to be right on LH’s gearbox and that didn’t happen. If it had would it have been reasonable to allow LH to hold NR back knowing NR had an extra stop to make?

  10. Isn’t it interesting, for those who like to claim there is a pro-Nico leaning on the team, that LH was not ordered to let NR go when NR truly was gobs and gobs faster than LH right at the end? What’s with that, conspiracy theorists?

    1. Erm no, they had both done their intended pit stops so it was upto the drivers to fight it on track at that stage. Earlier on they were on different strategies at that point, hence the radio calls.

    2. @robbie, damage was done by then Merc are not gonna say on last lap let Nico throgh are they? Check Hamilton’s response he was shocked. Honestly the radio was bad you know that, i re watched and his guy said let him past on the start finish straight please Lewis. You even admit that was wrong, every time you fail to do maths rewatch the race Ham copy Nico he finishes ahead my friend. If Ham does same as Nico did instead of going to primes Ham is ahead.

      Just face it Alo was backing Ham up big time and Ros was gaining 3 seconds from new softs, he should finished ahead himself anyway he was ahead after safety car still yet fluffed it, the time we seen both cars on softs Ham clearly had the edge. All Ham had to do was do excactly the same and he has chance of win in fact Ham’s tyres were far better he went 2 laps longer than Alonso, Alo done 31 on soft, Ham done 24 in first part so surely he cold have done similar stint. Softs were grippy tyre, Ros could have finished in exactly same position and went to end like Alonso did, but Merc pitted him. I also notice with you nowhere to be seen yesterday as soon as Ham as a break you’re straight on moaning and bringing stuff up, i never knew weather and safety car is luck?, especially after a safety car that never came last year. Also check when Ham set his fastest lap to prove which tyre was better, Ham did his fastest lap halfway through.

      1. If you must know I was not able to get to my computer until last night, but when I did I responded to you.

        I suggest LH would not have been shocked about the order if NR was actually lapping as quickly as the team thought he would be. But he wasn’t and I think if they had waited a few more laps they would not have asked LH to let NR go. If NR was in fact way faster at that point, and able to be hounding LH, and everyone knowing NR had another stop to make, would it have made sense for LH to hold NR up?

    3. @robbie Hamilton said “no” the first time,do you really think he was gonna let him by on the last LAP??

      1. Of course not but that wasn’t my point. I was asking the conspiracy theorists that think the team is pro-Nico, why the team wouldn’t insist, if indeed the team is pro-Nico?

        1. Because we’re not talking about blatantly handing position and points to Rosberg. Or at least not yet. We’re talking about strategy and (maybe) using the difference in strategy to help Rosberg by getting Hamilton to let him past, whether that gives him a race and championship advantage relative to Hamilton or not. Obviously Hamilton’s judgment – along with just about everyone else’s! – was that it did. And that’s without questioning whether Mercedes should have been thinking about Hamilton for the race win at that point, not Rosberg. Or at least both on an aggressive soft tyre strategy.

          1. i like @robbie point, if the team use strategy or blatant asking a driver to move over, what is the difference, if there is bias, surely it wouldnt matter.

        2. Luis Rodrigues
          28th July 2014, 6:58

          Robie, you’re *****

          just the fact they even considered the idea of asking Hamilton to sacrifice points to his only chanpionship contender, was absurd.
          you can label it as you want. the team acted pro Nico and it really was shocking.

  11. For everyone saying it was a silly move to put Hamilton on Mediums, Merc did that because they knew the soft was the better tyre for the better race, which was Nicos choice because of the way Merc operate, we know they have a alternating system were each driver gets pick on best strat.

    If merc would have put Hamilton on the better strat today, they could have claimed the only win in F1 history from the pit-lane. But their system isnt one that allowes for strategies to be changed mid-race to suit a particular driver.

  12. Lewis Hamilton the guy helped by safety car…, who was still behind his teammate after safety car yet finished ahead he was sure very lucky…

    He also had brand new softs and hardly used them, does 24 laps on them halfway through yet they think he could not make 29 laps.

  13. What a suprise looked like Ros maybe had a problem in race yet Paddy Lowe says they were having problem on Ham’s car with fuel pressure. Getting silly really

    1. Also he said that they both had braking issues again.

  14. just a month ago Mercedes told they would always use the same strategy for both Lewis and Nico to avoid situation like the one we had today

    1. Mr win or lose
      28th July 2014, 0:06

      Ironically, since then Lewis and Nico have been on different strategies in every race.

    2. didnt they state that they would lock in a strategy at the start of the race and not deviate as opposed to choosing the same start?

  15. Dont know why Lowe is cribbing about the first safety car period so much… it was not only Rosberg who was disadvantaged by it .. Alonso too went from 4th to 8th or 9 th … he managed to get past vettel , rosberg and JEV whereas Rosberg was stuck behind JEv for quite a number of laps…

  16. Neil (@neilosjames)
    28th July 2014, 1:55

    Safety car or not, Rosberg would have won easily if he’d been able to get past Vergne.

  17. Ricciardo won because didnt change to the slicks until the track had dried up sufficiently.
    Mercedes went conservative.

  18. “In the event, neither strategy was capable of recovering the win given the impact of the safety car periods…”

    Lowe is obviously an extremely competent and talented engineer but has he got the “strategic brain” to sit on the pitwall as a reference point? If he had followed Riciardo and pitted Lewis for soft tyres as well (i.e on-the-fly strategy) I think Lewis would have won, with his pace advantage over Riciardo.

  19. I find it interesting that Toto Wolff claims that Lewis could have cost Nico a victory by not yielding position due to the fact that they were on different strategies. This suggests that they were planning on having Nico win and Lewis finishing fourth. If Nico could have won on that strategy, why wasn’t Lewis put on it as well given that he came out around 3 seconds ahead of Nico when he made his final stop. They could have had an easy 2-3 at the very least because Alonso was a sitting duck on his old tyres (kudos to him for managing to do 30+ laps on options), but they clearly thought that having only one driver on a decent strategy was better than having two drivers charging at the same time.

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