Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2016

Mercedes will use team orders if Austrian GP scenario recurs

2016 Austrian Grand Prix

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Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff says team orders will be imposed if the team find themselves in the same situation they were in at the end of the Austrian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg collided on the final lap of the race at the Red Bull Ring as Hamilton attempted to pass his team mate for the lead. Hamilton won but Rosberg slipped to fourth place having incurred damage in the contact with his team mate.

Rosberg was struck by a braking problem in the closing laps of the race which affected him at turn one on the final lap, giving Hamilton his opportunity to attack.

However Wolff told Sky if the same situation happens again Mercedes will call off the racing between their drivers.

“The answer is yes and I tell you why,” he said. “We had a situation where both cars were clearly – I wouldn’t say ‘damaged’ but the brakes were not in a state where they could properly race each other.”

“We were coming to a point that only the two of them raced each other and their brakes were near failure. We saw what happened to [Sergio] Perez he had a brake failure and he ended up in the wall. We saw [Felipe] Massa retiring the car.”

“In that particular situation we need to stop the racing before we have two cars breaking down. So we would probably interfere and say ‘we haven’t got the car underneath you to race’.”

Yesterday Mercedes confirmed they will continue to let their drivers race each other without team orders but the ‘rules of engagement’ between their pair have been toughened up.

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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  • 41 comments on “Mercedes will use team orders if Austrian GP scenario recurs”

    1. Ironically, it was team orders on the last lap of the Austrian GP that practically destroyed F1’s reputation as a sporting spectacle

    2. …and that would have been: “Nico, let Lewis past as we messed up the strategy and you shouldn’t really be in the lead.”

      and now:

      “…and don’t forget to wave politely as Lewis breezes past…”

      1. Most likely it would have been “no Lewis, you are NOT allowed to race Rosberg. Repeat, do not attack or pass Nico”

        1. Imagine Lewis’ response if they put Nico in the lead and then told Lewis to back off!!

          1. Hopefully he’ll ignore team orders in such a situation. Let Mercedes ban him for a race for daring to race on a race track and see what that does for their reputation.

      2. Telling him to “wave politely as Lewis breezes past” would be a driver instruction and as such not allowed by the rules. Drivers have to decide for themselves how to wave :)

        1. @badger This made me choke on the food I was eating. Well done sir.

        2. @badger – brilliant! The way things are going that’s not so far from the truth, unfortunately!

        3. I can,t stop laughing. Nearly fell off my chair.

    3. I looks like Toto avoided saying if that would mean Lewis would be allowed to pass or they remained as they were. Lewis was given the opportunity to pass on the undercut and so I suspect they would say “Multi 644”.
      But in either case that would have been a pity and I am glad they did race.

      1. not hardly. Lewis was given slower tires and less than a lap to catch Nico. It’s not like the first pit where Nico was given a number of laps to undercut Lewis, obtain track position and control the race.

        If Merc were going to allow the undercut they would have put him on the faster tires (if they were available) and keep Nico out a number of laps before Lewis had him, just like the first pit stop. But they didn’t. In fact Merc handed the win to Nico, and the only thing that let Lewis win were 2 mistakes on the last lap from Nico. & yeah, people go on and on about how the softs were the tire to be on, but Nico was carrying damage on the left side of his car, which probably had more to do with (alongside Nico being unable to steady himself under pressure) with tire degradation.

    4. Now we’re talking, i’m just waiting for the fireworks !!!

    5. Lewis doesn’t strike me as someone who’d listen to team orders if a chance to win his home GP is up for grabs.

      1. If he’s in 2nd on merit, I think he’d listen but if Mercedes decided to try and put Nico in front through strategy again, I doubt he’d listen to a word of it.

      2. Difficult if you’re chasing your home GP win with Britain and Germany coming up but we don’t know the ramifications of engaging in a debris spluttering fight bit like EJ or DC had mentioned during Malaysia 2013, that what a tough stance result in? Financial penalty..that’s fine. They can’t ban a world champion or a top driver as that’d make the team look naive.

        What else can they do? Let go of a driver like Lewis or even Nico? It’s easy to “toughen up” rules of engagement when you’re leading by a country mile in terms of pace. Let RBR and/or Ferrari catch up and then you ate no longer the only attractive team in the paddock.

    6. Would that constitute a coded message though to tell the driver the status of the car? Would that not be against the over-the-top radio rules?

    7. If that’s the case, just ban Rosberg from racing (attacking or defending) since he’s incapable of doing so without causing damage to Hamilton’s car or his own.

      The correct solution, of course, is to let them race and cross fingers Rosberg doesn’t cause a crash. If he does, how about not rushing to protect him? The reality is Mercedes have been enabling Rosberg’s bad driving ever since Monaco 2014 – when they clearly had the data showing he went off in qualifying on purpose. Mercedes and Mercedes alone are responsible for allowing this situation to fester.

      1. Omar R (@omarr-pepper)
        8th July 2016, 13:38

        If they count Canada as one of the 3 crashes ouy of 5, then it was Lewis the one who pushed Nico off track. And don’t forget many races, as Japan last year, where it was Lewis doing his “I dare you” move.
        Nico just needs to learn the move correctly, so he can leave the stewards scratching their heads while deciding if the move was within the rules.

        1. You mean count what wasn’t a crash as a crash? Sure, we can invent stuff all day. The reality is everyone knows (a) Rosberg has changed his attitude and “won’t be pushed around,” and (b) he lacks the awareness or talent to differentiate between situations where it’s possible to push someone off track ‘safely’ – which he has also done, let’s remember – and situations, like Barcelona and Austria, where his actions are too aggressive and make a collision inevitable.

        2. I think that’s mainly management trying to present a fair balanced view and stay on side of both drivers. I suspect they are fully aware whilst Hamilton will often run code to the line it’s Nico who doesn’t know where the line is

          1. *close to the line

          2. he knows where the line is, that’s why he intentionally pushed Lewis off the track, because he would have lost the race had he not. His gamble only failed when Lewis called his bluff and turned instead of running off the course.

        3. Hamilton didn’t push Rosberg off track. Rosberg went for a gap that wasn’t there and when the gap disappeared there was no room for him on track. The driver ahead dictates the racing line. It has always been like that.

          Just as Hamilton was ahead in Austria and Rosberg should have yielded there as well.

          Rosberg really should know the rules by now. Toto Wolff too though.

    8. When you have a second a lap in hand over rivals, isn’t there the margin there to improve the braking capacity a bit so that they don’t give up on a driver for doing anything other than driving to a delta up front to the flag?

      I know there is a compound effect. Slightly heavier brakes, slightly compromised aero, slightly higher fuel usage and so on, but they have at some tracks such a huge margin they can swallow some of that up to reliably get to the finish surely?

      If they wind up fighting Red Bull and Ferrari next year they’ll need to do it anyway.

    9. I’ve seen this scenario and it plays out like this. Team orders are imposed Nico wins the title then Lewis sees out the next year with merc then leaves his contract early to go back to Maclaren who are in the position to kick merc off the the top…sweet poetic justice and all because Toto can’t handle the fact that Nico is not a wheel to wheel racer like Lewis.

    10. @keithcollantine
      “Rosberg was struck by a braking problem in the closing laps of the race which affected him at turn one on the final lap, giving Hamilton his opportunity to attack.”

      Why do we keep continuing this narrative and parroting the official line? Nico made a mistake, riding the curb with his right wheel. This visibly unsettled the car, which compromised him exit, and stopped him from getting the power down as early as would have been optimal. ALL the commentators (DC especially) noticed this and exclaimed on it. This is what allowed Lewis to have a run on him, and not his “brakes”.

      1. his brakes are why Nico forgot to turn and run Lewis wide/off the track. It was a convenient excuse. Excuses are all Mercedes have for their champ to be, and they are pretty shoddy. I am sure you could count on more than a few hands the number of ‘faults’ or fault conditions that appear during a race. The facts are Mercedes are terribly interested in maintaining the confidence in the fans for Nico ROS while preaching equality. The intent of the management at Merc is blindingly obvious. I almost wonder if there are not bonuses involved in seeing a different guy on top of the podium this year.

      2. Rosberg ruined his brakes trying to stay ahead of Hamilton. perhaps that caused the turn 1 mishap which then led to Hamilton closing up so quickly and overtaking him at turn 2.

        But yeah it sounds a bit like the “gust of wind” which cost him the win in Austin. Or whatever caused Rosberg to miss the chicane in Monza and in Canada. Excuses for everybody when he makes a “race losing” mistake again.

    11. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
      8th July 2016, 14:01

      Given that Nico has both a points advantage and an engine advantage, it sounds like Mercedes is rewarding him for his move in Austria. The team is really going down in my estimation.

      1. what?? Rosberg went from 1st to 4th in one move, and the team lost championship points, where is the reward? also don’t forget the team lost about 40 points when Hamilton crashed out rosberg in spain, where is the reward again?? of all the incidents between the Mercedes drivers, only Nico has been penalized, for the smallest touch in Spa 2014 – he was said to get a monetary fine and his form went downhill straight after- I fail to see your view that somehow Rosberg will be rewarded for whatever in your mind.

    12. Good luck trying to introduce teamorders when your number two is in the lead.

    13. If near the end of the race and the team instructed one of the drivers to hold station when they were closing on the other I’d imagine the radio would be “turned off” or stop working. As the team can’t coach the driver there’s really no point in having the radio on in the last 10 or 15 laps anyway, so if the driver goes silent they can always claim the radio wasn’t working.

    14. We will tell Rosberg not to even attempt to pass Hamilton at all, because he is not taking it from the bully anymore. He will oblige for the sake of the team.
      We know Hamilton will just ignore us and we can always blame it on Rosberg (outside of the corner- Spa, inside of the corner- Austria) if the crash happens.
      Good for Mercedes. Long term plan, fire Rosberg because he isn’t good enough.
      Great sport F1 is.

      1. How about you read the F1 rules? Inside or outside is of no consequence. It’s about who is ahead. Or “more than fully alongside” as the stewards call it:

        Having taken note of the extensive evidence given by both drivers and the video and telemetry data, it was apparent that Car 44 (HAM) was in front of Car 6 (ROS) – i.e. more than fully alongside – and that the driver of Car 44 could have clearly made the turn (T2) on the track, if not for the resultant collision. Car 6 did not allow Car 44 “racing room” and hence the driver of Car 6 was responsible for the collision

    15. I thought Nico was a harder driver at Williams……its obvious though he can lead and win a race, but he has no answer for Lewis….and why can he not say at Austria the plan was to drive Lewis wide and take the advantage out of the corner…..we all saw what he did(or didn’t) …….and I wouldn’t be surprised if he got booed this weekend at some point

    16. What I understood from interviews and some quessing also: Merc won’t decide who is to blame after next crash, but FIA and stewards will (just like last week!). And whatever the outcome is, team will make the guilty driver nr 2 until the end of the season.

      1. So they can race and they can crash one more time. After that – who is guilty is second and the other guy wins WC title…

    17. Sad to hear that. The only team order Mercedes needs is this one:

      If one car is at any moment and to any amount alongside the other, keep at least a car’s width of space until that is no longer — Be it at a straight, turn entry, middle or exit — even if for that you need to go out of the racing line.

      1. Indeed. In fact, I’m pretty sure this is what is causing the problems at Mercedes to begin with.

        You can’t simply tell them not to hit each other. That makes no sense. You see how Rosberg has no chance of overtaking Hamilton in Canada, but he just sits there and hopes Hamilton won’t take the racing line like he is allowed.

        Rosberg doesn’t do that when he tries to overtake Verstappen in exactly the same corner at the end of the race. He’s actually a little ahead of Verstappen, but still he yields. Why does he do this for Verstappen and never for Hamilton?

        Only logical explanation is a dumb Mercedes “no contact” rule which Rosberg is always counting on. If Rosberg actually played by the F1 rules when battling with Hamilton as well, Canada and Austria wouldn’t have been an issue. He would have just gone through the turn and closed up behind Hamilton to live another day.

        Spain he broke the rules too, but the stewards explained that one away saying it all happened too quickly for Rosberg to understand he was doing something wrong. Still I think the “no contact” decree had a hand in that acdident as well. I can’t believe Rosberg would have pulled that stunt on any other driver. Just as any F1 driver would have gone for the pass on Rosberg in that situation.

        It’s really been Toto Wolff who is setting the stage for these incidents.

        1. Great post saying the reality to the situation. Yeah i know am late.

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