Mercedes tell Hamilton and Rosberg they “remain free to race”

2016 Austrian Grand Prix

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Mercedes has decided against imposing team orders on its drivers despite their latest clash during the Austrian Grand Prix.

However Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have been issued with “greater deterrents to contact” and reminded to “respect the values of the team”.

Mercedes statement

This morning at the headquarters of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team in Brackley, UK, positive meetings were held between Toto Wolff, Paddy Lowe, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

Our drivers were informed that they remain free to race for the world championship.

We believe this is the essence of Formula One, including between team mates. As passionate racers, we want to see them racing, and so do the fans of Formula One.

However, this freedom comes with a duty for our drivers to respect the values of the team.

In the past five races, there have been three incidents which have cost us over 50 points in the constructors’ championship.

We have therefore strengthened our Rules of Engagement to include much greater deterrents to contact between our cars.

With these in place, we will trust our drivers to manage the situation between them on track. Their destiny is in their own hands.

The drivers were also reminded that we may issue instructions during the race to protect against a potential loss of constructors’ points, such as we did at this year’s Monaco GP when Nico was instructed to let Lewis pass.

If the drivers do not honour the revised Rules of Engagement, we may impose team orders as a solution of last resort.

Finally, we restated our belief in Lewis and Nico as the best driver pairing in Formula One.

Since 2013, we have won together a total of 43 races and 40 further podium finishes, plus two consecutive world championships. This record speaks for itself.

2016 Austrian 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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    47 comments on “Mercedes tell Hamilton and Rosberg they “remain free to race””

    1. Does the end of year teams payout still deduct money for points, and thus you want to win but by as few points as possible? If so, they can thank Nico for doing whatever he can to prevent them from wasting money with 1-2 victories.

      1. They can also thank Hamilton for his qualifying effort in Baku

        1. If you think like that then add all the millions ,Rosberg and Ham have cost Merc including good/badwill. Money is plus on Ham and minus A couple millions on Rosy.

      2. True, but the monies saved will probably not be enough to pay for the repairs. These costs from Spain and Austria must run into millions. Wings cost $250K each, if I remember correctly.

        1. (@chaddy) they can also thank Nico in Austin and Canada for resisting to crash with Hamilton when Hamilton forces him off the track.

          1. @MarkM you dont watch F1 or you dont know the rules… Austin although exception, it was out of a corner exit at start in wet/damp conditions with cold tyres! Skip that, you are allowed to defend out of a corner in a racing line… Everyone does it! Yeah Ham does it more aggressively as well but he does not crash people on purpose like NICO.

            In Belgium, Spain, and Austria were all kamikaze drives! With single intention, to crash… Deny all you want, you dont understand entering corners vs exiting!

            1. What a balanced point of view…
              They BOTH have their moments as they are driven to win. The massive understeer due to cold tyres put forward by Hamilton may just be an excuse as those used by Rosberg like in Monaco with the yellow flag. We will never know for sure as we are not in the car ourselves.
              The truth is that we are treated with an intense teammates rivalry which is nice given the domination of Mercedes.

    2. Glad to hear it.

    3. So…What’s the difference between ‘team orders’ and ‘instructions during the race to protect against a potential loss of constructors’ points’. Just curious.

      1. I think for example a team order could have been imposed on LH to not race Nico in the last few laps in Austria thus preserving a 1-2, but they are not ready to do that, whereas Monaco was an example of an instruction to have Nico let LH go because it was a no-brainer and detrimental to the team to have NR holding LH up, especially at that track.

        1. @robbie
          In Austria, Hamilton drove to a plan both in speed, tyre management and length of stints based on a one pit stop agreement with which to win the race. Having switched Nico’s strategy earlier to a two pitstop race because he couldn’t manage his tyres, Hamilton was made and led to belive that the initial arrangement was still in place meaning that no matter what plans the team had with Nico, he was not going to come out in front of Lewis.
          So what happened in Austria is not just a case of Nico being too fast while Hamilton drove to team orders so to say, which ultimately led to the last lap contact, it is a race that raises questions regarding who, what and how Mercedes intends to win the 2016 championships. Therefore telling Lewis to stay put behind Nico (as you suggest) after telling him that his race plan was different from Nico’s having switched Nico’s plan, would have been tantamount to favoritism. And Hamilton rightfully wasn’t gonna have that since there was no other person in front of them apart from the two Mercedes cars.
          The second Hamilton pitstop was not necessary as he had the tyre life to get to the end. And if Nico had decided to stay out in front as some have said, Hamilton surely would have then had to stop pacing behind him and then race him for the lead he lost with the advantage of the 12 extra laps of tyre advantage he had.
          So the only person no matter how one sees it who should have had the second pit stop was Nico. That was his race plan.
          So the avoidable contact was Mercedes’ own doing.

          1. At long last someone with the same thoughts as me regarding the crash
            Mercedes fault for deceiving Lewis and changing him from a one stop to a 2 stop. Lewis was pacing himself looking after his tyres. Then boom all of a sudden change him to a 2 Stopper cos of some rubbish explanation regarding the tyre blowout of Vettel .LH was able to make the ultrasofts last 21 laps. He could have easily done 50 laps on his superstars. Meaning Rosberg would have come out 25 sec behind him

          2. Was just giving an example hypothetically of what might constitute a team order vs. an instruction. Wasn’t trying to suggest anything specific about Austrian events last weekend.

    4. I don’t know why this is so difficult for Merc to figure out. Have additional internal rules as: On the straights, braking zones and corner entries, drivers must leave room for each other when the other car is alongside.

      1. And the reality is that we have two very close racers vying for the WDC and everything happens in split-seconds on the track, which people easily forget and immediately jump to hindsight and second-guessing of what woulda, coulda, shoulda happened once incidents are over.

        1. well said…

        2. petebaldwin (@)
          7th July 2016, 18:28

          I agree but we have the benefit of hindsight and should make the most of it! Nico openly said it was his corner so he could push Lewis off if he wanted to. Is that how Mercedes view it? Is it ok in their view for Nico to deliberately push his team mate off the track?

          Mercedes can do whatever they want here but if I ran a team and one of the drivers admitted he tried to push the other off track, I would be extremely angry and would point out that if you want to drive one of my cars, you don’t drive like that against a team mate.

          I’m not picking on Nico – both should be told this is unacceptable.

          1. I think the problem is the drivers know that the team probably won’t do anything to them if they do it again. Without the threat of being replaced, even if it’s for one race, the drivers know that it’s really just empty words.

    5. Do they think they are doing favor on us?
      I like way RBR allowed teammate battles in 2011, 2013. Like Brawn GP in 2009. Way we saw Lewis and Heikki fight it out at Mclaren in 2008. Or Fisi/Alonso at Renault in 2005/2006. Or like Ferrari allowed brilliant team battles during Schumi era, 2007 or great German GP 2010.

      On serious note-
      Ferrari fans have no right to say anything about team orders. The very basic foundation of that team is flawed.

      1. I will say something about team orders despite of the “warning” above: team orders are part of the game weather we like it or not.

        Mercedes is just in that sweet spot right now that they can afford to be “chivalrous towards us, the fans, and they decided to let their drivers race”.

      2. John Rymie (@)
        7th July 2016, 15:14

        I like the tongue in cheek bit to start. That being said, I completely disagree with the second part of your last more serious statement.

        While Ferrari’s ethos may not make fans happy, their policy is the very definition of a team. Ferrari has made no secret of the fact that the results of the team come first. Ferrari’s road car division was to justify/pay for racing and if you’re going racing you’re doing it to win as a team.

        The ‘team first’ mentality doesnt make for exciting racing, but I can completely understand it when your whole company’s purpose is to win. While fans naturally want to see exciting action and have their driver win, from the team perspective there are 500+ employees behind the scenes in the team that want to win together too.

        While I would have been disappointed from a viewer perspective had Mercedes implemented team orders, I also would have understood it. I think it will inevitably happen at some point and thank them for putting it off as long as possible.

    6. “In the past five races, there have been three incidents which have cost us over 50 points in the constructors’ championship.”

      Just tell Nico Roseberg to cool down, he’s a very dangerous driver of course alongside Carlos Sainz and Felipe Nasr, they’re determined to honor Maldonado legacy.

      PS : I’m not a Lewis fan BTW.

      1. *Nico Rosberg

      2. Mate, you don’t know anything about F1 if you think that Sainz is a bad or dangerous driver. He’s driven very well this year.

        1. @ultimateuzair
          First of all thanks for the compliment !!! Just try to look at every wheel to wheel action these drivers were involved in this season especially when they are defending their positions and you will see my point. They drive and look so much into their mirrors (direction change, squeezing drivers …) I forgot also to add Magnussen to the list. As for Sainz i didn’t say he’s bad, BTW he did another silly move in the last race when he squeezed RoGro (if i’m not wrong) when he was trying to overtake him.

          1. Kvyat has been the worst this season when it comes to wheel to wheel racing, and you’ve said nothing about him.

            1. @ultimateuzair
              That’s true but to be honest the fact that i almost forgot to talk about him this time like i did before was due to the amount of bashing, the punishment and then the bad luck with STR, plus the fact that he seems to be OK at the moment unlike these drivers that are getting away with.
              Fortunately Rosberg got a penalty this time and the he’s under the spotlight now despite that he used to do the same thing for years.

          2. Andy (@andybantam)
            7th July 2016, 19:05


      3. “He’s a very dangerous driver”
        That’s a bit of an exaggeration in my opinion

        1. Bahrain >> Nearly took out Alo, Ham in a straight
          SPA >> Took out Ham intentionally to make a point (his own words)
          Spain >> Same as Bahrain but this time succeeded with Ham
          Aus >> Spa more dangerously

          Not talking about any out of corner (by keeping at racing line) incidents as almost EVERY DRIVER does that except weak teams who knows they dont have a chance…

          Yes Ros is not only dangerous, he is getting worse and becoming catastrophically nuts about winning the champs.

          I will not be surprised by him being a champ after crashing ham on purpose 1 more times! (Ham crashing badly one more time will mean taking 10+ and 5+ grid penalties every race he changes engine which assuming Ros goes stable and not have any bad luck)

          But more clear pic will be in a few races… I believe Ros will get himself out of the team by doing something crazy again before the year end…

    7. They lost 50 points in 5 races? OMG that leaves them with only a razor-thin 108 point lead in the WCC!

      If you read between the lines, from the note about lost points to the comment about the Rules of Engagement to the dig at Nico for holding up Hamilton at Monaco, you can just make out a threat that more tomfoolery will result in a driver being asked to move over when he is less competitive. This would be the “first resort.” The “last resort” of “team orders” makes no sense if it is the only remedy on the table. Something else is there short of that, though the team are not willing to say.

    8. What a relief. Well done Merc.

    9. A meeting at Brackley, and Lauda not present.
      I wonder if he will even be in the pits this weekend.

    10. There’s a surprise. Every single time, same stuff:

      Nico and Hamilton collide and/or have a “racing incident”
      “Mercedes to discuss team orders”
      “Mercedes threatens to suspend drivers”
      “Mercedes warns drivers (for the 19th time)”

      “Mercedes state that their drivers are free to race”

      Well ain’t that lovely. Who expected that?!

      1. What did you expect? Merc to pull one of their drivers out of the next race if they cause a collision? Merc can only punish their drivers financially coz anything else would be like chopping your nose off to spite your own face. Its either that or not renew contracts, and the only one with a nearly spent contract is Rosberg. Im afraid Merc are just gonna have to suck it up and enjoy all the publicity. Im sure the marketing department in Stuttgart is positively ecstatic!

      2. petebaldwin (@)
        7th July 2016, 18:30

        Just need Toto to say Ferrari are a threat to them and we’ll have a full house!

      3. Omg Haha so true.

        It almost feels like Mercedes are doing these things on purpose,

        I remember a few races back when they said they weren’t getting much TV coverage (Due to lonely front runners).

        Trying to get media attention ? Highly unlikely !

        1. Maybe Lewis to describe relationship as “good”.

    11. Mick (@mickbiddulph)
      7th July 2016, 16:59

      So, Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One have handled their internal matter, internally.
      Back to racing…

    12. They’re really counting Canada?

      1. I’ve been wondering what they counted as the 3rd incident. The contact in Canada seemed like such a non event.

    13. 3 crashes out of 5 races, 3 times out of 3 when they were fighting for position…

      In Mercedes words then:”The record speaks for itself…”

      I wonder what deterents they had in mind?

    14. A conspiracy theory:

      In 2014, after the Spa contact, clearly caused by Nico, Lewis went on to win the next five races.
      In 2015, after the Austin squeeze at the start, clearly caused by Lewis, Nico went on to win the following seven races (3 in 2015 and 4 in 2016)
      The crash in Spain was deemed a racing incident.
      Austria, however, it was CLEARLY Nico’s fault, willing to compromise the results and the integrity of the cars to attempt to avoid Lewis’ overtake. Mercedes can, if they want, “right the wrongs” internally. Let’s see if Lewis goes on a winning streak for several races, now….

    15. If only Vettel’s car would not have broken down in Bahrain, rammed off the road by Kvyat in Russia and had a tyre blown in Austria, the troubles of Hamilton and Rosberg would at least give us a third driver to fight for the championship. Alas, no.

    16. With a race win on the line, regardless of what rule they gave them both, do you think it will change a thing? Don’t think so

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