Hamilton-Rosberg battle is ‘groundbreaking’ – Wolff

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In the round-up: Mercedes’ motorsport boss Toto Wolff says the team’s approach to letting its drivers fight for the title between themselves is groundbreaking.


Your daily digest of F1 news, views, features and more.

Mercedes’ Toto Wolff won’t change how he is handling Lewis Hamilton vs Nico Rosberg title fight (Daily Mirror)

Toto Wolff: “It is so intense and we are breaking new ground in letting the boys race in the way we do. So we are bound to make mistakes.”

Singapore GP – Into the night (Ferrari)

Engineering director Pat Fry: “At this stage of the season, the focus in the factory is shifting more towards next year’s car. However, there is still quite a lot we can learn from track testing, therefore we will be bringing some specific test components for next year and other developments for the F14 T, which will help our understanding for next year.”

Williams can catch Red Bull, says Massa (Reuters)

“Everything can change pretty quickly in Formula One in two or three races. The situation is different. Maybe we have the opportunity to fight for the second place.”

Bottas: Beating Ferrari is priority (Autosport)

“For us the priority is to try to beat Ferrari, but you never know, anything can happen.”

German Court Reveals It Could Not Have Forced Ecclestone To Stand Trial (Forbes)

“Although it was only taking place for two days a week, so that Mr Ecclestone could run F1 at the same time, the strain was still showing and in May the trial was postponed for a week because he had developed a chest infection.”


Comment of the day

Why the haste to introduce the new restrictions on team radio messages?

I feel sorry for the race engineers. With next to no preparation, they have to tread very carefully or risk penalising their own driver.

Why this can’t be brought in for 2015 I don’t know, other than to introduce a random element to make the show more exciting.

From the forum

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On this day in F1

Happy birthday to former F1 driver Marc Surer who is 63 today. His F1 career was curtailed by a serious rally crash in 1986 in which is co-driver was killed. The year before that he earned a mid-season promotion to Brabham and often impressed in the races only to suffer poor reliability. He now commentates on German Formula One broadcasts.

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61 comments on “Hamilton-Rosberg battle is ‘groundbreaking’ – Wolff”

  1. Hope we get to see more of the Lewis in that Will Buxton tweet and less of the moody bugger!

  2. I think letting Vettel battle Webber late in 2010 was the groundbreaking teammate battle, where any normal team would have locked in Webber, Mercedes have a huge advantage more similar to Mclaren 89 so can afford to let them battle, it’s not that special.

    1. Well said , but — 2010 with preferred son Vettel being backed over Webber was no different than 2007 McLaren letting Alonso and preferred son Hamilton (particularly after Spygate fully broke) battle to the end of the season.

      1. @reg hard to compare 2007 and 2010. Alonso was already leaving the team, so the mood was a bit down.

        At Red Bull, even if they prefered Vettel, Webbo had aaaaaaaaall the chances to stay ahead. He lost it all at Korea and Abu Dhabi (and that cycling accident), but he was given a totally fair battle. Vettel was just too good for him in qualifying late in the year, a combination of Seb getting more used to that car and the tracks at that bit of the calendar, which he seems to like more.

        1. Yes, agree that Webber lost that championship on his own. Sorry, I also knew better than to bait that comment with “preferred son” but didn’t think about it before posting. :)

          2007 situation was different but ultimately it was the McLaren teammate battle that let Kimi sneak through in the end.

        2. that 2010 season was unbelievably close between webber and vettel, but vettel deservedly won it. The average qualifying gap between them was 0.05s for the season!

          i think korea destroyed the end of webber’s career. sometimes you get a shot at the title and real champions take it. webber did not. btw, i am a huge fan of webber.

          1. @frood19 Considering that Webber loses a tenth to Vettel from weight distribution, that’s very close. But Vettel also had a cracked chassis at one point. Vettel only reached ‘full pace’ in 2011 it seems, while Webber did well to be so fast on the wrong side of 30.

            Arguably the fractured shoulder led to a poor Korea/Abu Dhabi. But Vettel also had lots of unreliability – really 2010 he should have walked home. Webber did well to have no mistakes apart from Valencia and those last two races – lack of mistakes wins you the title, as Rosberg is now demonstrating, and Alonso almost proved.

        3. That’s what I am saying, both drivers were given equal chance late in 2010, that was groundbreaking. Logically you would be mad not to back the leader, but in this case it worked out well for the team anyway.

      2. @reg 2007 is a good parallel, in that the guy who was supposed to be leading isn’t. In 2007 McLaren were hamstrung by the fact that their No1 driver trailed in the championship for the whole season from Canada. They couldn’t realistically order the leading driver to give way, even to their super expensive 2x wdc.

        Now Merc can’t order the leading Rosberg out of the way of their (IMO) secret No1 Hamilton.

        What Merc have done wrong IMO was reward Rosberg’s Monaco cheat with the points and a handsome contract renewal. That just invited Spa, and the failure to redress Spa in turn invites another one later in the season, if it comes to it. Toto must be on tenterhooks over a tainted wdc.

        Anyway yes it’s not ground-breaking, more like expedient. Hamilton is by some margin the most popular driver out there and Nico is one of the least popular and widely recognised as the lesser driver of the two. Everyone would go ape if the team favoured Rosberg, and it would look too weird if they favoured Hamilton being 22 points behind. Nico has stitched them up nicely.

        They should have been principled and nailed Rosberg at Monaco, now it’s too late, so PR nonsense is all they have left to them. Letting them race is the only possible option, but I’m not surprised Toto is nervous and trying to talk it up.

        1. Letting them race is the only possible option

          Yep, nothing ‘groundbreaking’ about it IMHO

        2. @lockup What a load. Wasn’t that long ago you had NR as Toto’s favourite because of your silly claim that he ‘let’ NR have the points from Monaco…like Toto has it in his powers to remove them. I would suggest rather than the soap opera you are trying to envisage, Toto rewarded NR with a contract extension because he saw Monaco as his two drivers competing against each other and sees NR as a strong driver given this is his first time having the capable equipment and he is doing very well against a very tough teammate. He obviously believes in NR and does not see him as the ‘cheater’ you have chosen to label him as. Also, there’s a chance that prior to Monaco, when the boys were cranking up their PU’s on their own in various races until they were told not to, and then LH did it again for a win and apologized to the team after the fact, perhaps Toto saw Monaco as justice for NR.

          Toto on tender hooks? Wrong. Tainted WDC? Wrong. NR one of the least popular? Based on what? Everyone would go ape if they favoured NR? You already said they did after Monaco and I don’t see everyone going ape…so..wrong. NR has stitched them up nicely? Wrong. Letting them race is the only possible option? Agreed, but not because of your reasoning that somehow NR backed them into a corner. They said they were going to let them race from the very getgo, before the season even began. Toto nervous? Ya, it must be really tough knowing you’ve got a lock on both Championships. Trying to talk it up? Sure, I’d be too if I had what he has for a team and a thrilling rivalry and a couple of Championships in the offing and the press had mics in my face about it all day long.

          1. @robbie I have never said Rosberg is Toto’s favourite. The evidence I’m aware of says Nico was the first to misuse Boost, at Bahrain, and in any case it doesn’t compare with Mirabeau.

            Even on here with its time lagRosberg had about 1/3 the support of Hamilton and I’ve seen polls with him on more like 10%, and that’s before he’s been booed on the podium.

            He’d already be probably the least popular champion of recent times and now Toto has to fear a third cheat, because he’s let the first two pay off, and that WOULD taint the championship. In Monaco all he had to do was show the stewards the tyre load data, after all, and he had options after Spa, as many suspected we saw at Monza (though I didn’t personally).

            Anyway now he can only let them race, hope LH catches up, and threaten NR with everything under the sun.

          2. @lockup Your opinion of the situation is too tainted by pure anti-NR drivel to the point of invention of the facts to suit your argument.

          3. @robbie I used to really like Rosberg, my opinion has been shaped entirely by the evidence, which I’ve linked on here often enough.

            Now I’m just pointing out that Toto isn’t breaking any exciting new ground as he’s claiming, but merely reaping what he’s sown. Not that other teams wouldn’t have done the same I daresay, but it’s nothing to brag about.

          4. @lockup You’ve linked no ‘evidence’ that has swayed me, and I think Toto is breaking new ground and many teams would have taken the easier road of designating a number 1 so they wouldn’t have a headache. So yes Toto is reaping what he has sown…in the way that honors the fans and themselves by having their drivers settle it on the track the way the paying fans deserve.

          5. @robbie yes okay you can ‘not be swayed’ by the evidence and I don’t aspire to changing your mind :) The human mind is an agile thing as Warwick and Pirro have demonstrated so ably ;)

            Merc are in it for the brand, as they’ve said often enough, so making themselves UNpopular isn’t in the plan. They do not want to do a Ferrari 2002 and be seen as unsporting with an imposed driver choice for wdc.

            We can be confident I think that having their driver booed on the podium was not what Zetsche & Co were really looking for either.

            So the evidence, afaic, is that both video and tyre load data and the simple fact of choosing to run first indicate Monaco was deliberate. Lewis saw data that convinced him. Merc let the weekend play out, a 14-point swing, and renewed Rosberg’s contract with a pay rise. Warwick bottled it totally.

            So guess what, learning from experience like the clever chap he is, in Spa Nico steered into Lewis’ tyre. You don’t need a link for that do you? 3 miles from the pits it was a winning play, wing damage or not. He got booed by the fans.

            Again the FIA and the team let him keep the points. Result!

            So come Abu Dhabi, if Lewis has caught up, as is reasonably likely, what’s Nico gonna do? How much is he going to care about the team’s brand? Based on Spa where he did not give a toss about the team.

            So from Toto’s point of view, Nico winning the wdc in Abu Dhabi with another dodgy move would be a disaster. Yet that’s the scenario he, and the FIA, have set up.

            So Toto must be on tenterhooks. I seriously doubt he wants NR to win, being even less popular than Vettel already, and he must be terrified of how he might do it.

          6. @robbie A case of truth being stranger than fiction, perhaps? If only it were fiction! Anyway if I were a suspicious type I might detect the deft hand of MrE behind the pattern of ‘see-no-evil’ stewarding and the safety car choices that have left us with all this drama, and the betting so finely balanced ;)

            But surely even as a Rosberg fan you can see how things would look for Toto, if NR won the wdc with a third dodgy move? Toto inherited this wonderful car and the fastest, most popular driver with his cute blond boyhood friend – the most heart-warming brand-building setup one can possibly imagine – and it ends with the Mercedes wdc being booed as a cheat?

            ‘Nightmare’ doesn’t cover it. So one can only hope that Toto has been able to come up with some adequate threat, that even a wdc wouldn’t compensate for. Maybe he’s called in Arnie :))

        3. @lockup lol, is this how you interpret F1? Like some side story in Eastenders? I’ve haven’t read such drivel since accidentally picked up a discarded Daily Mail on the tube…

        4. @lockup and there you have 1984 in a nutshell. kind of perverse that lauda is on the board, isn;t it? in some ways, i hope rosberg takes the crown just to prove that this sport is more than just outright speed or balls. his season-craft (if not his racecraft) has been masterly.

          1. @lockup Just had a chance to read your last post and I still find it overly dramatic drivel. You should be writing for soap operas.

          2. @lockup In response to your last post @ 13:31…same one as my 12:17 one.

  3. Could it be Mr. Satan driving instead of Nico.
    That huge chin protection on the helmet made think about it.

    If it is indeed Mr. Satan, then mercedes should be penalised. And that would explain the Spa crash.


    1. I thought it was Mickey Mouse driving

  4. I think that Wolff labeling the handling of the Hamilton v. Rosberg run for the WDC as groundbreaking was a bit of an overstatement. Anyway, if the two drivers can enjoy mechanical reliability for the remaining races, and manage to avoid contact with other cars, we’ll likely (hopefully!) be in for a championship run for the ages. Unlikely that things will pan out that smoothly for either driver, but I’d have to put my money on Hamilton if they do.

    1. Well, it is defenitely groundbreaking for him and for this team! So far its an experience shared with Ron Dennis and in a sense with Frank Williams too, although if they manage to get out of it with the team still intact and functioning for another couple of years then it would be a first timer!

  5. Good on Lewis for “hamming” it up. lol,

    A chilled relaxed Lewis is going to drive Nico nuts,

    1. I don’t think that is what gets under Rosberg’s skin @greg-c.

      1. @bascb What is it then that you know so much about?

        1. Well, for one thing, he certainly was unsettled because of the reacions from Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff and many fans after Spa for example @psynrg.
          On the other hand Lewis trying to sound relaxed and putting on the “i deserve it more” and “I am more Hungry” etc never really seemed to affect him.

          1. @bascb you could therefore extrapolate that Nico is just a human being after all and any number of things ‘could get under his skin’.
            It’s likely to mess up your head when you’ve seen your rival have just about everything thrown at them and still come out smelling of roses. Including a dominant weekend and race win.
            That would rattle any professional sports-person, knowing there’s not many other ways your rival could be distracted from the goal.

          2. So I think @greg-c has a point!

          3. It’s likely to mess up your head when you’ve seen your rival have just about everything thrown at them and still come out smelling of roses. Including a dominant weekend and race win.

            This, maybe, likely?, yes. Although it rather seemed to make Rosberg more instistant on improving his own raceweekends so far.

            But making a bit of fun in a picture? Rosberg knows Hamilton long enough to know that while he might seem relaxed, if he can get under HIS skin, its gone fast too.

  6. Mark in Florida
    18th September 2014, 3:23

    Yes it’s groundbreaking all right having the three stooges run an F1 team. If Ross had not laid such a strong foundation I don’t think the team would be where they currently are. This ,we wear are heart on our sleeve is just an excuse for not being real professional leadership. Come on get yourself together.

    1. I still believe that in Bahrain there was a team order but Lowe was so vague that it stood as a sensible advice. Paddy was too McLaren with his disguised team order, Ross though would’ve been clearer and decisive and Ferrari would have been clear as daylight.
      Nico took the photo with the old helmet, is the picture old or was he trying to make himself more visible in a dark room

      1. maybe he uses the old helmet in the simulator?

    2. now let’s see if Mercedes falls apart, as any team Ross have left (think of the demise of Benetton, Ferrari and coming soon, Mercedes.

    3. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
      18th September 2014, 11:47

      Never liked corporatism myself, it’s ‘good’ for advertisers but boring for fans. I hope Mercedes keep to the current path – Lauda in particular is always worth listening to.

  7. “At this stage of the season, the focus in the factory is shifting more towards next year’s car.”
    Change the record PURRLEASE Ferrari!
    How many times have us Tifosi had to hear this now, it’s getting very tiresome. :(

    1. Haha, good point. That line gets trotted out earlier every year.

  8. Glad to hear any F1 driver said they think pure racing is good…

      1. @keithcollantine I think today F1 need DRS or something else to help them pass. Not the way they are now with certain activation area but maybe with how many they could use it. Say 12 times or 60 second a race. Let the driver decide where and when to use those.

        1. To be fair to NR, read his entire quotes on DRS in which he states that DRS should not be too easy…a driver should not end up 50 meters ahead by the end of the straight…and it could be tweaked to ensure it is still difficult to pass someone, which will come with F1 having experience with DRS. So he endorses DRS, sure, but with some conditions that it should still be difficult to pass…he cites an LH/SV battle as an example.

  9. I wonder if William will still be fighting for top positions next year if Ferrari and Renault fix their sub-par Power Units.

    1. They won’t. IF renault and ferrari fix it.

    2. i think so. Even if Ferrari and Renault get their act together, mercedes also have the chance to develope his PU, so they’ll still be a step ahead, and Williams came out with a very good car (both chassis and aero), so, next year, with more prize money to spend, i still see them fighting on top.

      1. Williams made a better car than FI or McLaren this year so they ‘ll be fine next year.

  10. I think Wolff, Lauda and Co can thank Rosberg that the situation isn’t worse. Imagine the roles from the Spa incident were reversed – Hamilton would have never accepted the blame that easily and moved on.

    1. What makes you think that?

      1. @matt90 – The way Rosberg was thrown under the bus by Wolff and Lauda in interviews right after the race wasn’t ok and could have easily backfired. Imo, Hamilton is stronger in that regard and would have pushed back more.

        1. I doubt it. I’ve often seen him apologise for incidents afterwards. There were times in 2011 when he wouldn’t, but since then I believe he’s been far better at admitting his errors.

    2. @tmf42 The entire problem is Rosberg. Hamilton has always dealt graciously with being beaten on pace. What we had in Spa was Rosberg nursing his resentments over being out manoeuvred/not allowed through in Hungary and before, and deliberately turning into his teammate’s rear tyre out of, as Martin Brundle said anger and petulance.

    3. If there’s one driver on the grid who owns up to his own mistakes then it’s Hamilton.

      So, @tmf42 on what do you base this information?

      1. I don’t think NR accepted the blame ‘that easily’ and I think LH would have done the same in standing his ground both on the track and off. I don’t think the way NR was ‘thrown under the bus’ was that unusual or unexpected given that NR cost LH all points and himself the win and no team will ever condone their teammates colliding. LH may often deal graciously with being beaten on pace but that is not to say he is always gracious. And NR did not deliberately turn into his teammate’s rear tire, or he would have been penalized. He deliberately stood his ground and in doing so didn’t keep entire control over his car and they touched. Many F1 drivers agreed NR had nothing to apologize for. The stewards agreed there was nothing penalty-worthy.

        1. @robbie just seen this. You know Rosberg is caught
          steering full, hard right away from the line into Hamilton’s tyre, right? Check the still frame and Brundle admitting, reluctantly but almost honestly in his F1 establishment role: ” I am concerned that he turned out and then turned back in. He really did turn back in at Hamilton’s car.”

          On the various youtube slowmo’s you can see it quite clearly in action. Very quick, with no other possible purpose.

          Yes Pirro and the stewards carefully didn’t even investigate, but decided in 10 seconds flat – not even enough time for a slowmo.

  11. Formula Indonesia (@)
    18th September 2014, 10:52

    Interesting how Bottas and Massa comments about Williams position ij WCC is quite contradictive

  12. Why is Nico Rosberg in his pre-2014 helmet in the simulator?

  13. Exactly what ground is it breaking?

    1. Well there hasn’t been a rivalry like this since Senna/Prost, and what is different is that LH and NR are childhood friends which has definitely put an interesting flavour to this, and I would suggest Toto also thinks the way they are managing this rivalry is different from Senna/Prost too.

    2. Well he’s just hyping up the situation, himself and his team. That’s the way you promote the organisation you work for. All good stuff.

      But it really isn’t groundbreaking is it?

      It’s a very odd choice of word to describe the situation and I’ll allow Toto a degree of what he meant being ‘lost in translation’ (his own translation or a 3rd party)

      This Nico and Lewis as child hood buddies has been flogged to death. They had some associations in their early racing careers. But they didn’t exactly ‘play-out’ together when not doing their home-work prior to Mum’s calling them in for their respective tea’s.

      1. @psynrg

        maybe its just groundbreaking for Toto ?

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