“Dirty tricks” or fair game? What they said about Hamilton’s tactics

2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix tactics divided opinion in the paddock.

The Mercedes driver backed Nico Rosberg into the chasing pack at the beginning and end of the race in a bid to encourage their rivals to overtake his team mate and help his championship cause.

Drivers past and present gave differing views on whether Hamilton’s tactics were acceptable, and whether he was right to interfere in Rosberg’s race.

I think Lewis was trying to back us up, and I probably would have done the same, you have to try these things to win a championship.
Max Verstappen

Vettel almost benefited from Hamilton’s driving
It was a tricky situation with Lewis in the end playing some dirty tricks.
Sebastian Vettel (on the team radio after the race)

It was clear that he was slowing them down. We did two seconds, he was one-and-a-half seconds slower than I think he could have gone. I can understand, everybody picks his own tactics.

But obviously for myself it was interesting because I thought I can have a shot at a race win. But I can see that obviously for Nico it wasn’t very pleasant as well as for the team.
Sebastian Vettel (after the race)

Lewis did his own race, he tried to win the championship in his way. But the danger was Vettel. Because if Vettel had started a little earlier his attack we could have lost the whole race. So this, for me as the Mercedes chairman, we have to think about it.

[On whether he would have done the same] No because I would have still taken care of winning the race, this was his mission, in the quickest possible way, and then whatever happens to Nico is Nico’s decision.
Niki Lauda

Mansell disapproved of Hamilton’s tactics
I am a sportsman no I would not do this. This is wrong sorry.
Nigel Mansell

Can’t understand people saying Lewis was ‘unsporting’. He’s a racing driver trying to win a world championship for goodness sake.
Tiff Needell

It always looked likely that Lewis was going to drive the slowest possible race should he be in the lead, and that’s exactly what happened.
Christian Horner

Lewis’s tactics in the race has drawn very mixed views! My opinion is that he did what any driver would have done. Had one card to play… You do wonder if someone like Jason Plato would have managed to back up the pack more successfully to allow Max and Seb a better chance?
Karun Chandhok

I don’t think [I] would have done that or said that. You’s just got to do what you can on the day, you’ve got to follow team orders too. He’s a lucky boy. To be with Mercedes-Benz, a totally dominant team, he should be very grateful not upset.
Jackie Stewart

Hamilton denied putting Rosberg in danger
Lewis was doing an awesome job at that. He nailed it perfectly. He was pushing in the first sector to make sure I don’t come close where it’s possible to overtake, and then sandbagging in the rest. So that just made it unbelievably tough out there.
Nico Rosberg

[On whether he could have done more to spoil Rosberg’s race] I don’t think so, really, beyond being dangerous and that’s not my driving style. It’s not what I would ever do, to put someone else at risk. I tried to help the others get near but they, Seb, didn’t have the pace.
Lewis Hamilton

2016 Abu Dhabi 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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    175 comments on ““Dirty tricks” or fair game? What they said about Hamilton’s tactics”

    1. I’m no fan of Hamilton or Rosberg but completely defend his tactics during this Grand Prix.

      Hamilton knew that in a normal race he was going to lead a 1-2, which was not enough. He gave the race 40-odd laps for the race to play out and see if any mechanical issues became apparent and then had to take it into his own hands.

      As long as his driving was safe (ie: not stopping/swerving etc) then he’s at perfect liberty to dictate his own pace. If it was too slow then Rosberg should have overtaken.

      If anything, I’d argue Mercedes were guilty of “dirty tricks” by not leaving their two drivers to duel it out, having already secured both championships.

      1. LovelyLovelyLuffield
        28th November 2016, 16:03

        If anything, I’d argue Mercedes were guilty of “dirty tricks” by not leaving their two drivers to duel it out, having already secured both championships.

        Good take. Not just that, but the entire comment.

        There’s a road cycling analogy here, but it’s right at the back of my head and I can’t find it.

        1. Finally someone is saying what everyone should say!

        2. @ben-n I agree on Hamilton but disagree on Mercedes. Their approach was consistent with what they’ve done before. To change the rules of engagement for the final race would have been tipping the balance in favour of one driver.

          It’s the same situation as other drivers being told not to fight the championship contenders in the final race. You distort the competition if you start saying ‘it’s the end of the season, we need to do things differently now’.

          1. @keithcollantine – I would agree with you entirely were it not for their pre-race stance of “not interfering in the title race.”

            The scenario that played out (or nearly played out) was the only way Hamilton could logically have won the Championship, so I don’t understand what Mercedes were expecting from the race when they made the statement of non-interference.

            Hamilton had to win, so the win was never in real doubt, only a 1-2, which means little in reality.

            1. Mercedes should have taken the gloves off once the constructors championship was won. This would have allowed a more level playing field between the two drivers battling it out for the driver’s championship. In the end we had Hamilton forced to hope for reliability or another driver to intervene for the last few races. This for me is not racing. In Abu Dhabi we had a laughable situation because we had no racing in effect because Rosberg refused to try to win the race. And Hamilton had to try to back him into Ferrari for lack of another strategy. Again not racing. Mercedes by not throwing out their rule book neutered the race. Hamilton should have tried his tactic in Brazil, even Mexico. Why didn’t he ? He is not the dirty handed driver as many are saying.

          2. Well they(Mercedes) kinda did change their approach in this race. Not on telling Lewis to speed up but by not pitting Nico first in the first stops. Usually in this kinda scenario where there was a danger of undercut from another team they pitted the 2nd car first. This time they let the leader pit first and risked Nico to be left behind Kimi. It’s understandable though – they are already getting bashed for telling Lewis to speed up(which also they would normally do), now if they pitted Nico first to protect the 1-2 result as is common for them the conspiracy theorists would have had a field day.

            1. That’s rubbish, as bringing in the 2nd driver first would simply allow him to undercut the leading driver. Therefore, you always bring in the 1st driver unless there is a substantial gap between the 2 drivers, so that the 1st driver can’t be undercut.

            2. Usually in this kinda scenario where there was a danger of undercut from another team they pitted the 2nd car first.

              Only if the second car is far enough behind the first car not to jump ahead via the undercut. They were definitely consistent with past practice in this respect.

              You could argue they might have threatened to pit Rosberg first if Hamilton didn’t increase his pace (and they may have done, we don’t hear all their radio messages). However given how little time they were going to be on the ultra-softs at the start, realistically this scenario was never going to have enough time to play out.

          3. @keithcollantine

            It’s the same situation as other drivers being told not to fight the championship contenders in the final race. You distort the competition if you start saying ‘it’s the end of the season, we need to do things differently now’.

            I see your point and respect your opinion, but I believe it’s a little… naive is not the right word, but it’s the closest I can think of.

            Both teams and drivers do change their tactics, strategies and driving styles toward the end of a season. At the beginning, they focus on getting cars into the highest points positions they are able. However, towards the end, they consider their current championship position and react accordingly.

            While it is “consistent” with their strategy earlier on, working for a 1-2 finish was, in effect, favouring Nico. I’m not saying they did actually favour him, but that was the effect. During this last race, Merc had nothing to lose. Which ever way the race ended, they had won the WCC, and one of their drivers was going to be WDC. In fact, it probably benefited the team, as the close driving meant more camera time for their cars, so more sponsorship money. If Lewis had bombed off in front, and Nico kept a gap to both Lewis and the cars behind, they would have had much less.

            IMHO, Merc should have actually completely divided the garage for this final race, and allowed autonomy of the two “teams” to determine the best strategy for the individual cars. They have said all along that they will let them race, as long as it doesn’t damage the team. No result, bar an accident between their 2 drivers or a serious accident for one of them, would have damaged the team (in my opinion).

      2. Agreed. Mercedes really exposed themselves in the aftermath of the race, with a shadow of bias already being on them concerned the one-sided reliability. They went from wanting to not interfere in the racing, to being offended that Lewis dared to fight for the WDC.

        Lewis has enjoyed great success with that team and I really hope he has plans to move on before the bias gets worse. I’d like to see him drive for Ferrari while still in his prime.

        1. I’m not sure I’d agree that there is bias in the general sense, I really don’t think they’re bothered which driver wins races/championships as long as one of them does.

          In Abu Dhabi, the radio calls came from a concern about letting the race win slip away… I would argue that they should have been prepared to potentially let this particular race win slide in the interest of fair competition. Also remembering that Hamilton near enough had to win it, so it was still in his interests to finish first and secure the win that they wanted.

          1. Well said @ben-n, I don’t see a bias. I do think Mercedes were silly if they really didn’t expect this – if the 1-2 was really more important than letting their drivers race for it, as it has been the rest of the year, they should have kept saying that, rather than ‘not interfering’. Because that then automatically meant they wouldn’t let Hamilton do anything to thwart Rosberg as he needed to to fight for that. It would have meant the WDC was over bar any problems for Rosberg in the race, and they should then have made that clear to us and to their drivers before the race (and took last two weeks to let Hamilton get used to that too, I’d think). It would have been a bit lame after all their efforts to not influence the WDC fight so far though.

            1. How can you not see a bias when Mercedes effectively demand that Hamilton stop racing and hand over the title to Nico??

            2. Mercedes didn’t interfere until there was a real threat from the other teams for the win. Please remember that both Hamilton and Rosberg had something to loose whereas Vettel and Verstappen had nothing to loose. You might very well ended up in a situation where Vettel or Verstappen might have gone for a Kamikaze-move and both Hamilton and Rosberg would have to yield.
              The battle for the WDC was in reality decided when Vettel passed Verstappen. Vettel had more pace than Verstappen at the end of the race. Rosberg could have let Vettel past so that he could put pressure on Hamilton. Hamilton would then be aware he had a driver behind him with nothing to loose. That would have forced Hamilton to up his pace to avoid a hail mary from Vettel. That would have given Rosberg the opportunity to increase his pace and leave Verstappen behind as he was struggling for pace at the end.

              I think Hamilton is lucky Rosberg didn’t choose this option as it would have meant Mercedes loosing points because of his actions. The fallout from his refusal to follow instructions might have been more severe then.

              There’s a difference between creating your own luck and risk hurting your team’s chances of winning the race. A team counts hundreds of people pushing flat out, you have to respect that otherwise it might hurt you in the future.

        2. Why all “Nico bias” theorists forget that Mercedes ordered him to make way for Lewis in Monaco?

          I think the team is doing a good driver management under the most difficult circumstances, and it has payed off perfectly on the last three seasons…

          1. I think there was bias in the race but it was nothing directly against Hamilton or that they didn’t want him to win the Championship. I’ll try to explain what I mean by that. Basically, if both cars finished the race the team wanted it to be a 1-2. In that situation, Rosberg would win the Championship, so this would be their preferred outcome. The 1-2 finish benefits Rosberg over Hamilton so the radio calls and warnings before the race were all disadvantaging Hamilton. This wasn’t because they didn’t want him to win the title, it’s because they knew for him to win the title would mean a bad result for Nico. Saying “we always let them race” seems a bit flawed if you’re not going to give each guy the best chance to win the Championship. I completely understand where the team are coming from, but what Hamilton did would have been far more effective around the pit-stops, so by not letting him do it earlier the team were looking out for Rosberg more this race. It has nothing to do with the “German driver, German Champion” non-sense. It just happened that the best team result suited Nico over Hamilton and the team were bias towards the best team result.

            1. +1

              Toto Wolff and Paddy Lowe have been consistent in applying Mercedes’ driver policy, in order to secure the maximum outcome available to the team during race weekends. Their objective has always been: (1) to win the grand prix (if not possible, then finish on the podium at least), and if doable (b) have their cars cross the line in 1st and 2nd (or achieve a double podium / points finish).

              When top management instructed Lewis not to back his team-mate up during the pit-stops, and to resume regular racing speed during the latter part of the race, it was because they were genuinely worried that the best possible outcome available (mainly a win, and to an extent a 1-2 finish) was being put in jeopardy. In fact, Wolff and Lowe have effected the policy on Rosberg in Monaco earlier this season; when they ordered him to let Hamilton through because he was too slow and the Englishman still had a shot at winning the race — which he (Lewis) did. Fortunately for the team, Nico was more compliant and did not make a big deal about it. Also most of the time, management bit its tongue when “only” a win was a achieved, rather than a 1-2 finish which was achievable during the afternoon, because the drivers had clashed (Australia, Canada and Austria. USA and Japan 2016).

              Going further back: remember Malaysia 2013, then Team Principal Ross Brawn ordered Nico to stay behind Lewis and not to battle him for the final podium spot. After the German had caught up to his team-mate because he had managed his fuel usage better, whereas the Englishman was running on fumes. Brawn’s logic being that Hamilton had been ahead all race (and so had no reason to cede his position); and that although Nico was the faster driver during the final laps, allowing them to battle it out would have put the best possible result available (a podium and 4th place finish) at risk. So status quo was imposed.

              You’re absolutely right to say that there was no bias (or nefarious forces) working against Lewis during the season finale, but his individual objective that weekend meant he was always going to be the loser in the context of the team’s policy and its larger objective. Wrong place, right time. Which pretty much sums up his season.

              Regardless, Nico Rosberg earned this year’s title. Lewis was unlucky a lot of times, but that’s part of racing (Keep in mind, Nico was unlucky too during critical moments in the title fights of 2014 and 2015). Plus, there were races this year where Rosberg simply outdrove Hamilton.

              As they say in the fight game: “the winner not necessarily the better overall fighter, it just so happened he/she was the better man/woman during the fight.” And this year, Nico was the better man. So, congratulations to the German. Well deserved, well done!

        3. I don’t think the actual Mercedes F1 team is bias, but I do believe there are higher up people in the Mercedes corporation which own the team that have wanted a German world champion since the start of this venture of running their own team. Considering when Mercedes came back into F1 they made the decision to sign 2 German drivers over other prospects on the grid.

          I think any car manufacturer with a long history like Ford, Renault, Ferrari or Mercedes would if they were in the situation where they were completely dominant want to have the driver of their nationality as champion representing the brand and team. Even Honda used to use their influence when supplying engines to get a Japanese driver in a Honda powered car.

          All throughout the year it’s just felt like there have been glimmers of just trying to please the bosses to me, the whole switching Lewis’s engineers to Nico’s car with no explanation among other things. The look on Paddy’s face on the pit wall really felt like the look of someone panicking over how their bosses would be reacting right then.

          Vettel had more to say on it than I expected though..I think someone is wanting a future seat at Mercedes if the Ferrari move doesn’t work out maybe?

      3. Hasn’t Mercedes always said that these two drivers would be able to ‘race their race’ and not be subject to team orders?

        1. Yes. Toto Wolff himself used the words (non-interference), and what do they do, interfere!

      4. Luis de la garza
        29th November 2016, 6:57

        I think HAM played the wrong strategy. His ego got the best of him. He shoul’ve allow ROS to get ahead at the start and then started toying with him to make a mistake and get him at the end of the line (like Verstapen). THAT could’ve created a great spectacle!!!!

        1. geoffgroom44 (@)
          29th November 2016, 9:31

          always assuming that Hamilton wouldn’t object to all the ‘dirty tactics labels’ his haters would be throwing had he done that. As it was he performed a very subtle task: he allowed Nico to slipstream him thus creating a scenario where Nico cries wolf to Paddy et al (because Nico couldn’t risk racing), stimulates two other teams to appear as though they could actually mount a challenge against the mighty Mercs, and comfortably controls all that is happening behind him.
          It was fairly clear, especially to Lewis, that short of a reliability issue or an accident/mistake involving Nico that he (Lewis) was not going to take the championship this year. In that situation what actually transpired was good for the sport.
          Their is a point at which one accepts the inevitable – but does not necessarily publicise that acceptance.
          Meanwhile, back in the media circus, Lewis has dominated what should have been a massive domination by a new world champion. Even when he is gifted the prize, Nico is denied the glory.
          I am not a fan of Nico’s but I must admit that his longstanding patience, always being in the shadow of Lewis, does deserve reward.His persistence since karting days has,undoubtedly, been a spur that has driven Lewis to higher standards of excellence. For that service to the sport I feel he is due the Championship.

      5. Interesting….

        And just days before the race, Hamilton said he would NOT do that, and that he was only interested in driving the best race he can, and finishing as far ahead as possible. Then he does that. And it’s Mercedes’s fault, of course….

    2. It wasn’t very sporting, especially given that Rosberg listened to team orders and gave Hamilton places in Monacco and to me it wasn’t in the spirit of racing but all that matters is it was legal and no one was in physical danger.

      I also think that being honest anyone in his situation would be trying something similar.

      1. @glynh I’m pretty sure Rosberg used up the Monaco goodwill by trying to drive Hamilton off the road in Austria.

        1. Hamilton drove Rosberg off the road at Suzuka and Austin in 2015. It’s just that Rosberg elected to go off-track than have a crash. At Austria, Hamilton went off-track to pass, he would not have had to go off-track if he yielded, as Rosberg had to two times in 2015 in order to avoid a crash, while also yielding.

      2. Nico obeyed those orders because he knew he was slower in those conditions and the team had not locked up the Constructors Championship. Different circumstances that ended up working out for Mercedes and Hamilton.

        1. Another thing to keep in mind is that if Rosberg didn’t move over in Monaco they had the chance to pit Hamilton first and just get him in front that way.

        2. Pathetic excuse! What race in the year is Monaco, 6th? I guess everybody realized at that moment that Mercedes will run away with both titles. Plus, the WCC was even easier to get than WDC for them. Who was supposed to challenge them for the WCC, Ferrari with RAI in the team or RBR who was performing worse than Ferrari overall in the first 1/3 of the season?! So, now that Mercedes as a team secured both titles until Abu Dhabi, if they were so desperate to get every victory, why didn’t they ask HAM to let ROS pass since he was lapping too slow for the times VET was doing, jeopardizing the victory?!?

          1. Well LH was going deliberately slow, and ignoring team instructions…why would he agree to let NR past and guarantee himself no WDC? They were fine with simply asking LH to speed up to ensure his win, something he had to do anyway if he was to win the WDC.

            1. Yeah, I know HAM was doing everything on purpose. Anyway, with that example I was trying to underline Mercedes “favouritism” over HAM too… because many say Mercedes sabotaged him somehow OR favoured ROS: no matter that HAM did it on purpose or not, his lap times were obviously jeopardizing the win for Mercedes, so a situation similar to Monaco could have been adopted in order to secure the win. They didn’t do it, so I guess these 2 similar situations (Monaco and Abu Dhabi) are good examples that Mercedes did not favour any of them or sabotaged somehow any of them.

    3. The Blade Runner (@)
      28th November 2016, 15:51

      If Nico thinks it was fair enough – and if he was being honest in his quote (above) then he does – then who are we to argue?!

      1. Indeed. I’m quite sure that Hamilton’s memory works as well
        as anyone’s in F1. So I do not believe he will have forgotten
        the number of times his team-mate cynically used his car as
        a weapon of last resort in several races recently.

        And what do we find in the very last race of the season ?
        A superbly equipped champion of champions in F1 using
        the same kind of tactics ( except that he would not
        descend to the clumsy, or to the dangerous ) to demonstrate
        to his less-than-adequate team-mate that reliability and not driver
        skill, played the dominant role in this year’s championship.

        1. Oh please. There where 20 other races Hamilton could have won mechanical issues aside. He didn’t, he lost the WDC. Pretty simple really.

        2. Let’s put it this way. Nico beat lewis enough times on merit to bring it into the margin of error as far as penalties or reliability is concerned.

          Lewis lost a single race win due to reliability. He, and Mercedes, did a reasonably unsporting thing when flaunting the rules by taking three new engines for effectively one penalty. He lost out in other races due to poor starts, or poor attitude.

          Nico arguably lost out as well on non-mechanical matters, i.e. the ridiculously harsh penalty he got against Verstappen. If Lewis was “clearly” the better driver, you would think that it would be reflected in his ability to win points when the car is working just fine.

          1. If Lewis was “clearly” the better driver, you would think that it would be reflected in his ability to win points when the car is working just fine.

            It is. Hamilton lost between 40-80 points during the season because of reliability issues, but only lost the championship by 5. Ergo in the races where both mercs were working fine he outscored Rosberg. It’s very simple

            1. Didn’t Hamilton’s car always have the more aggressive set-up? Oil being too thin in Malaysia for extra performance, what about that?

              This was just Rosberg’s season. Hamilton may well be the better driver overall, or at least more motivated, while Rosberg also has other things going on in his life. But that nasty attitude that Hamilton has makes me uneasy. So arrogant, so self-centered and selfish. And then people will say something like “Senna was like that too”. NO NO NO!

            2. “Didn’t Hamilton’s car always have the more aggressive set-up? Oil being too thin in Malaysia for extra performance, what about that?”

              Unless you can supply some evidence then no, you are talking nonsense.

      2. Nico is being a gentleman. Something Lewis can never do!

        1. “Something Lewis can never do!”

          Except he has done. Many many times.

          1. Being a gentleman? Riiiight. I think the cards were put down with this season’s finale and true faces were shown.

    4. Can’t understand people saying Lewis was ‘unsporting’. He’s a racing driver trying to win a world championship for goodness sake.
      Tiff Needell

      Completely agree with that one.

      1. Absolutely Tiff, if we get any more nanny FIA they will have to issue engraved invitations to pass one another and the WDC will be decided by committee.

    5. I understand why he did it, he wanted to win the WDC.
      I understand why Mercedes are upset, Vettel was so much faster than them and on softer, fresher tyres could’ve won the race, and winning as many races as possible is Mercedes’ aim.
      Tbh it made the race more interesting as a race fan. I definitely wouldn’t have done it myself, I’d have tried to blitz Rosberg to prove I’m still the better driver, but if that had happened Rosberg would’ve just let him go off on his own and run in 2nd, and it would’ve been boring.

      1. Vettel was only faster because Hamilton allowed him to be. The win was never in jeopardy.

    6. Anyone who is a true competitor would do what he did and of the comments from drivers, Stewart just criticises Hamilton at any opportunity as he always has (personally think he wasn’t keen on the idea of someone taking over as top british F1 driver), Mansell is a bit of a wet lettuce (And in my opinion a complete liar saying he wouldn’t do that) and Lauda has a complete conflict of interests given he works for Mercedes so obviously isn’t going to say Lewis was right. They’re all from different eras and times change, we saw far worse things go on in their eras too!

      All the rest are relevant people from the current era and approve of it, Lewis broke no rules, he didn’t even do anything that could be considered as possibly breaking a rule that required a controversial decision (We have seen FAR worse over the years, Schumacher, Prost, Senna just some recent examples)

      If any fan thinks it was wrong then chances are you either have an underlying dislike of Hamilton or a love of Rosberg skewing your vision, pick two drivers you neither like nor dislike and apply the situation and you’ll probably realise you wouldn’t disapprove of it, it’s just racing in a different way.

      At the end of the day, he tried the only thing he could and it didn’t work but it turned what would have otherwise been yet another forgettable Abu Dhabi grand prix into a race that will be talked about for many years to come.

      1. +1

        my thoughts almost exactly

      2. I don’t like Hamilton, and I don’t like Rosberg. Hamilton is a petulant unsporting child, and Rosberg is somewhat entitled and unlikable.

        I’d be disappointed with any driver on the grid who pulled the tactics that Lewis did, even the ones I really like.

        The point is that a sporting driver wouldn’t try to ruin the race of another driver. It doesn’t matter whether that’s the “only” thing they think can do (protip: it isn’t). A sporting driver would get on with his damn job and win the race outright, take the win in his or her stride, and be graceful in defeat.

        1. He was NOT spoiling Rosberg’s race .. he was in with a shout of retaining his WDC and was doing the only thing he could to overcome the points difference he needed and I don’t believe anyone commenting on here would have done anything different if they had been in Hamilton’s place … it’s easy to say unsporting, dirty tricks and selfish when you are sat at home in your comfy chair but put all these whingers and critics behind the wheel and I virtually guarantee you their actions would be different from their comments because racing is about winning and if you are prepared to just concede the championship to your nearest rival while you still have a chance of winning it then I am sorry but you don’t belong in a racing car.

          1. @ Grumpy, In football some players get lots of red cards and some never do. People are very different and to generalise to say that to win the WDC you MUST be willing to explore morale grey area is BS. Messi doesnt play foul, and every football player whom doesnt collect red cards makes that mental choice in every minute of every match.
            Dont get caught in the “A thief thinks every man steals”-trap. Just because F1 has had some questionable incidents in the past, doesnt mean “a winner” needs to do those kinds of things.

        2. The point is that a sporting driver wouldn’t try to ruin the race of another driver.

          So a driver in second shouldn’t try to overtake the driver in first? Because that’ll ruin their race! Smh

        3. The last few days have read so many views and viewpoints.. hats off to you for this comment. And well noted they are both quite dislikable .

        4. “I’d be disappointed with any driver on the grid who pulled the tactics that Lewis did, even the ones I really like.”

          I’d be disappointed with any driver on the grid, especially the ones I really like, who didn’t.

          “It doesn’t matter whether that’s the “only” thing they think can do (protip: it isn’t).”

          Could you please explain, then, what else Hamilton could have done in order to give himself as good or better chance at winning the WDC?

          The only other option I could see him having was to speed off in front and stamp his authority on the race. However, this would almost guarantee a 1-2 finish, handing the championship to Rosberg.

          Short of, somehow, taking his teammate out without damaging his own car, I see no strategy which would come even close to the one he employed in giving him a chance at the WDC.

      3. Matthew, you are so right. That says it all. I always felt the same way about JS and Mansell, I don’t remember him being such a “gentleman”. Lauda is who he is at the moment.

        LH did what a driver should do, try to win a championship. Nico would definitively have done the same, never mind Vettel.

      4. I admit I’m the “disliking Hamilton” type, but what he did was completely justified having in mind the circumstances. I guess what Mercedes did was to try and prevent someone winning the title in such a manner. I’ve no doubt Niko would have done the same and Mercedes would have given him the same “instructions”.

    7. It was fair game. Honestly, I can’t see what the fuss was about. Hamilton played the hand he was dealt and, in playing it the way he did, executing it perfectly as Rosberg said, gave us a grandstand finish. If Hamilton had started brake testing people or using erratic lines, then it would have been dirty. All he did was fight as hard as he could to the very end and he came up short. he fought the way a world champion should.

      If Hamilton just scampered off into the distance Rosberg would have been a comfortable second for the majority of the race and the season would have ended with a damp squib of a race. We got a grandstand finish and the guy who won the title had to fight for it. Isn’t that what we all?

      1. Isn’t that what we all want?


          1. Except, I cán see what the fuss was about.:-)

      2. @geemac

        Honestly, I can’t see what the fuss was about.

        Hear, hear.

        When I wrote that article about the possibility of Hamilton holding Rosberg up a few weeks ago and some people suggested it was unsporting, I was astonished. It never occurred to me that some people would take so strongly against a driver trying to win the championship by the only realistic means left to him. I think one of the comments about that was Comment of the Day, because I was so surprised by it!

        1. Some people will disagree with whatever he does. If Hamilton went out and won the race by 30 seconds, those very same people would be calling him stupid for not being a ‘clever’ racing driver.

          1. …no we won’t.
            We’d call him superior on the day and respect that when things go his way he is among the fastest drivers ever. But for some of us, backing your teammate into the opposition is not a very chivalrous way to try to win anything. In that sense, a WDC is only a ‘title’. There is no honour in it, why people with that old school/alternative perception of what an F1 hero should be are often a tiny bit disgusted by him. A 3-time WDC, yet, morally, he’s nowhere.

            1. I simply cannot fathom the view that Hamilton has somehow been immoral here. If he’d tried to crash into Rosberg I could see where you’re coming from but holding him up is legal and fair.

              Drivers operate beneath the limits of what their cars are capable of all the time: to save fuel, brakes, tyres, whatever. Is that also immoral? Of course not. Neither is this.

              I think what’s ‘unsporting’ is imagining there is an extra rule which says “you have to drive as fast as you can go all the time” and then complaining that someone hasn’t met this arbitrary standard you’ve dreamt up. We may as well say F1 drivers shouldn’t have too many tattoos and condemn Hamilton for that as well.

            2. i don’t often agree with @keithcollantine but he’s on a roll tonight :)

              criticism where criticism is due, but Lewis did the only thing he could and he did it expertly within the constraints handed to him by the team. If he did these tactics earlier in the season the team would have sanctioned him, earlier in this race and they would have undercut him, he did exactly the right thing at the right time.
              Don’t hear anyone moaning about when Max did the same to Seb in Mexico, eventally handing the 3rd place to DR.

              It was super smart expertly delivered.

            3. get real … if the situation was little different and lets say it was Seb leading the championship and Lewis needed to overturn the same 12 point deficit, he’s leading the race and backs Seb into Nico and Max in the hope that they will pass Seb … I suppose that would not be racing but unsporting too.

              Every driver on the grid want’s to win races and the WDC and they don’t give up until the final chequered flag of the season and I am sorry to say but I think that if you were in the same position as Lewis was in then you would have done exactly the same.

              Like others on here I REALLY do not understand all the fuss, even Nico said he understood what Lewis did and that it was clean and well executed … that to me is end of story.

            4. @keithcollantine

              Even if it was within the rules, it made for terrible watching for me. Sure the intrigue and interest of it probably entertained as a once off but this “tactic” could be employed in many scenario’s where it’s advantageous and if it becomes the norm cars could even be designed for it.

              My concern is more of a slippery slope argument than any particular condemnation of Hamilton. F1 should be about the fasters cars being raced as fast as possible. Not some destruction derby style “prevent the guy behind from getting in front”.

              I don’t think that standard is arbitrary nor has anything to do with drivers lifestyle choices…

            5. prevent the guy behind from getting in front

              You heard it here first. Tristan doesn’t want any racing in F1 he actually wants F1 to be a rally style time trial.

            6. @Martin

              There’s a clear difference to me between racing and what went on in the United Arab Emirates. Driving seconds slower than your car is capable of not to save it mechanically, or nurse any issue, but rather with the intent of providing an opportunity for incident should the car behind attempt to overtake… How that can be acceptable in any form of Motorsports is beyond me.

              Having thought about it, even Rosberg had as large a part to play as Hamilton in the poor racing, by not going for the opportunity (and exposing Hamilton’s true intentions) and instead complaining to the team about how they were going so slow and that he should be gifted the position.

              It was all just farcical to me, and definitely not racing. To take my argument to the extreme and say I want F1 to be a time-trial is simply wrong. I love racing, may not be great at it myself, but I still love it.

            7. @ Keith, To each their own.
              Rosberg could have driven Hamilton off the track. He didnt. Perhaps he didnt want to win like that. Perhaps he expected that it would have been punished by the stewards. I dunno.
              Hamilton could try to back Rosberg into the opposition. He did. He was okay to win like that. That cannot be contested. There has been almost no precedent and as such no rule to enforce. Doesnt mean that there shouldnt be one.

              At the end of the day, just because the football rules may not explicitly state that Messi should not seek to break the legs of Ronaldo in a match so he cannot co-compete that year for the Ballon d’Or, doesnt mean it isn’t foul play by some people’s moral standards. I’ve followed F1 since forever. I go to races. I collect the damn marbles as a souvenir. But it isnt life-and-death. The end doesnt justify the means, and Hamilton, while within the current rules, stooped low.

            8. “To take my argument to the extreme and say I want F1 to be a time-trial is simply wrong. I love racing, may not be great at it myself, but I still love it.”

              I didn’t take it to the extreme, you literally said F1 should not be about “prevent[ing] the guy behind from getting in front” … which in my view is literally the whole point of racing.

              The real/only issue here is that Hamilton could dictate the race pace to such an extent and still win. Either he is literally the greatest driver ever to sit in a 4 wheeled machine or F1 cars have a serious problem. One that (as I have whinged about countless times before) STILL isn’t getting addressed. Sigh.

            9. I must admit being a Hamilton fan I was surprised he did it, I would have preferred him to disappear into the distance but I can understand what he did and why.
              If you want an example of true unsportsmanlike behaviour then look no further than Rosberg & Monaco qualifying 2014

      3. Precisely, Hamilton did not start weaving, brake-testing, that sort of thing, he slowed the pace, absolutely nothing wrong with that. No different than slowing the pace in a football match when you are 1-0 up in a champions league final with minutes to go.

        1. No problem in my eyes – all sports teams or players go into defensive mode to protect or improve a position.

    8. I didn’t have a problem with Lewis’s tactic, the fact that he ignored his team is a different matter, but they knew what he was like when they hired him. Certainly made the race more interesting. I was another one thinking Nico should let Seb through to attack Lewis, but I know with the adrenaline and all these drivers wouldn’t consider it.

      I can slightly understand Merc’s position. They’ve paid a fortune and worked hard to utterly dominate and they want to look head and shoulders above the others at all times.
      In theory Lewis could gain points by backing up Nico much earlier in the season whenever he feels comfortable, which opens a new can of worms.

    9. To me apart possible rulebook complications the only problem I find with Ham’s tactics is they go against the team’s interests. The team wants to capitalize on the best result for each weekend, also the team cannot be portrayed as bias so what he did was completely one sided and not in the best interest of the team. Low, silly, dishonourable? yes certainly, but I still don’t think it was dirty, it’s not like Lewis braked tested or forced Nico off the track in Abu Dhabi, or in any of the last 4 races. The logical thing to do would be to try similar tactics in other of the 4 races because obviously Nico played the percentage game.

    10. I can’t help but wonder what Hamilton’s punishment might be for disregarding orders. When your boss directly tells you to do something and you say no, that isn’t a favorable situation. And this happened in front of the world.

      I didn’t have issue with what Hamilton was doing until he was told to speed up. At that point, it is about the Team, not the individuals.

      1. The order was unreasonable. Mercedes knew before the race what Hamilton needed for the championship and said they wouldn’t interfere. To say that the win was in danger was simply a lie, given that they knew Hamilton could increase his pace at any point if he needed to.

        The only thing the team could possibly have lost is a 1-2, which is essentially meaningless outside of record books. They lost much more PR-wise whining over the radio than they would have gained if they ran off into the distance again.

        1. Precisely my thoughts.

        2. @george – losing a 1-2 wouldn’t have mattered as much for the record books either, given just how few they’ve had this year compared to the previous seasons.

        3. I agree. The team knew this was Hamilton’s only play and rather than let it play out and only warn Lewis to go faster when clearly under threat by Vettel, they basically told him to forget about winning the WDC and focus on winning the race. It seems they forgot that they were dealing with a human who has hopes and desires.

        4. I do agree with you, it was obvious that Hamilton had 1 chance once the race was underway. And the team had said they would stay out of the battle. And they did until data showed that Vettel could win on pace.
          But regardless of what the team said prior to the race, an order was given to Hamilton from his boss during the race. That’s what I can’t get past. I just don’t think Mercedes will ignore this.

    11. It wasn’t dapper. But, what else could he do? He could have been far more aggressive with it. A lesser man would have sought a collision.

      1. Being a fan of controversy I was screaming at the TV for him to slow the pace even more than he was in the final 2 or 3 laps.

        1. @ben-n – unrelated to your comment, but that profile picture of yours is bl**dy scary. Why would you subject us to that? 😁

      2. A collision? Certainly a double DNF was not in his interest. A collision where Nico would take damage but he wouldn’t? How exactly could he make sure he got that? Too risky.

    12. Vettel calling this dirty tricks is very ironic considering his record. He’s not exactly known for pulling his punches in inter-team battles.

      1. Please elaborate because I don’t recall Vettel ever backing any of his teammates up into traffic. Webber did try to do this to Vettel several times.
        And if you’re (still) upset about multi 21 may I ask why? All he did was try and win the race after his team practically tried to gift the win to dear old mark. And that only just a couple of months after that very same driver tried to help Alonso win the title.
        Vettel could have handled the aftermath better. He should have immediately said that because Webber doesn’t listen to teamorders neither will he. But in that moment in the race he had every right to try and get back into the lead.

        1. I don’t recall Vettel ever backing any of his teammates up into traffic. Webber did try to do this to Vettel several times.

          Nah, he was just slow ;).

          I’m not upset about multi 21, I’m actually a Vettel fan, but he went against a clear order there and I don’t think Webber was expecting it. Who was to blame for the toxic atmosphere at Red Bull is open for debate, but I certainly think Vettel is the kind of driver who will do anything to gain an advantage. Schumacher is his role model after all.

        2. @baron, talk about the pot calling the kettle black, Vet used every opportunity every race to push Web back, often by sending him off track at turn 1, if you want a good example look at the 1st race in Texas (or was it the 2nd) where vet slowed so much to force Web off he nearly got shunted off the track by the 3rd car.

    13. One aspect of fair game that I think needs calling out – although it doesn’t involve the Mercedes drivers – is Vettel’s driving. Once Vettel came up on Rosberg, he could have easily made a lunge or banzai move, fully knowing that Rosberg would yield rather than fight it out (especially when it became apparent that Verstappen’s tyres were going off). It was good of Vettel to only look for clean overtaking opportunities and accept third when such opportunities didn’t present themselves.

      That was quite gentlemanly driving on Vettel’s part, and brings to mind how effortlessly Schumacher allowed Vettel to overtake him in the 2012 Brazilian GP.

      1. Schumacher plus all the Renault engined cars took it easy on Seb, then fought Alonso & Hamilton tooth and nail. I thought that was way less sporting than what Lewis did.

        1. This is why you build up goodwill in F1 it was this goodwill that Rosberg benefited from Vettel on Sunday.

    14. I am glad this happened because it showed the world the true character of the players.
      I am sure that Nico was disappointed in what Hamilton did but, Nico had the class not to make a negative comment about his teammate because Nico is a class act ..
      In total contrast is Hamilton . Lewis showed the world that all he cares about is himself. Lewis did not care if he lost the race or if Ferrari won . All Hamilton cared about out was the WDC -no loyalty to Mercedes ,no respect for the team manager .If Ferrari and Red Bull past both of the Silver Arrow it meant nothing to Hamiltom so long as he finished ahead of Rosberg.
      I hope Mercedes remembers that and when Hamilton’s contract is up or if he gives them cause to terminate it they do just that. There are plenty of very good drivers who could have won in a car of that quality and who will drive for much less. Don’t be loyal to a driver who was not loyal to you.
      As an aside and of interest note that Vettel said that what Hamilton did was wrong . Vettel is a loyal guy and despite his whining a class act.
      Verstappen on the other hand said that what Hamilton did was fine as we all knew he would..

      1. If Vettel was in Hamilton’s car and trying to close down the 12 points gap, he would have done exactly the same thing. Hamilton care about winning and about winning championships. That’s what makes a racing driver. Nico Rosberg would have employed the same tactics. I do not understand what the fuss is about. Hamilton did not break any rules, did not drive dangerously and even Nico admired the way Hamilton drove the last 15 laps. Its very easy for us to comment on what happened sitting on our sofas without understanding the emotions which motivate racing drivers to do what’s possible to win. Senna and Schumacher have done worse things to other drivers and they did not hesitate to drive dangerously if it meant a victory for them. As a racing driver, you have to be selfish and only care about yourself, if you want to succeed.

        1. Vettel 2010. He didn’t. He had to close a FIFTEEN points gap.

          HAM can try whatever he wants to try, this “tactic” was the most stupid idea ever. What happened ? We had a bunch of cars following each other and everybody but him had the DRS. So they were never a real danger for ROS, who could even save his engine. Great tactic, what was he hoping for ? An error ? On the other hand, replace ROS with VES, RIC, VET or SCH and both cars were out, after a brake bomb. And the title would be lost too.

          But I have my opinion on this, he wanted a brake bomb from VES or RIC to kick ROS out of the race.

    15. What I don’t understand is why Mercedes made such a big fuss about it, reasoning that a win was at stake. I’m struggling to understand how they could say that given that Hamilton NEEDED to win the race with Rosberg 4th, so the win was never at stake whatever strategy Lewis was using. He had to win, the win would go to Mercedes “dirty tricks” or not.

      I approve what he did. We’ve seen far worse in F1 history, including arguably the biggest names in our sport Senna, Prost and Schumacher. Lewis was absolutely fair, he played his game, it was his only chance.

      Just looking at Rosberg in the press conference you could see how wasted he was, he had spent a whole race in tension which is exactly what you do to your rival, be it in tennis or in football. You don’t play a Grand Slam final against a tall player hitting the ball high so your rival has it easier to counter attack. You hit it low, so he has to kneel down and struggle all match long, trying to defend from your tactic. It’s the fairest “dirty trick” in the world: to take advantage of your rival’s weaknesses.

      Fair play to Lewis. And to Rosberg, yesterday’s race made him a world champion, he resisted incredibly high pressure all race long and made it happen.

      1. Well said @fer-no65, and great line to finish off on: Rosberg kept his cool yesterday, and won a WDC out of it.

      2. Why the Team might make a fuss? The Team is neutral. The Team didn’t NEED Hamilton to finish 1st and Rosberg 4th. Why would they favor a tactic that favors one driver and compromises the other driver? That doesn’t sound much like a Team.

      3. I think the team made a fuss (well, they answered the gazillion questions about it ahead of the race and afterwards) @fer-no65, because what Hamilton was doing probably did go agains the “clear rules of how to go about things” they agreed upon in 2014, discussed anew in Barcelona, and probably in Austria again.

        The idea is that both drivers can do as they wish unless it potentially hurts their overall result for the team. So then why wouldn’t Mercedes make it clear to Hamilton that they disliked not following along?

        I really am surprised about all the “why does mercedes interfere” when they did exaclty as they predicted they would: Let the guys race, as long as they did it within the rules agreed up front. Hamilton was clearly not doing that, as it would have meant settling for second in the championship.

        I don’t think it really surprised anyone that he did, and Wolff himself mentioned that he fully gets the racer not wanting to give up. But that doesn’t mean that the team is not right to warn Hamilton that he is going against instructions. They needed to do, if only to show Rosberg that they aren’t perfectly fine with it, or even playing along.

    16. Where’s the poll :)

    17. I’ve registered the envy of the former british drivers. Mansell and Stewart.

      1. Stewart just shouldn’t be asked about Hamilton or given any attention when talking about Hamilton anymore. He’s just so consistently against everything Hamilton ever does, it’s far beyond reason even for rather critical viewers.

        Mansell, on the other hand, I could really see him not employing this tactic in the same situation.

    18. I don’t have a problem with Hamiltons tactics during the race. It is very easy to understand why he did it. And I don’t know of many or maybe any driver who would have done it differently.

      In contract, it gave Rosberg the opportunity to demonstrate that he is really championship material. And he passed that test with flying colours.

      1. @felidae
        I would have preferred Rosberg to take the fight to Hamilton, but I suppose this is more in keeping with his style. Play the numbers, make the smart choice.

        1. As Rosberg mentioned, Hamilton never gave Rosberg a chance of even trying an overtake because he was only slow where you cannot pass @george, and fast where it helped make sure Nico did not get DRS.

          An attempt at passing would have probably ended with both cars crashed. Something I am glad we did not see happen. As @felidae mentions, Rosberg showed that he was able to stand the pressure of it. And that shows his WDC win is well deserved, far more than “just” coming in second several seconds behind Hamilton.

    19. Wrong tactics.

      1. Wrong. Correct tactics considering the situation. Done smartly and properly. Rosberg drove a great race and won the WDC. A deserving Champion. End of story.

    20. I think Ham gave Nico a drive that made him, in the end, feel even more pride in winning the WDC. Would he have wanted Lewis to have just handed it to him? I think not. Well done Lewis and Nico–you both drove like champions!

    21. I have nothing against the tactic itself: different people have different reactions to such situations. Some would think that the honourable thing would be to drive into the distance, “destroy” your opponent and hope for the best, a position stated by Hamilton before the race but frankly I have zero belief on whatever comes from Hamilton’s mouth. Others will try everything legal within the law book to be WDC.

      What I have issues with though is disobeying team instructions. This is unethical and wrong regardless of the way you look at it. This time it was fine, but if Mercedes management allows this to pass, I can see each driver driving for himself in the future and things getting out of hand.

      They will look really stupid if next year they lose the championship because mid-season their drivers refused orders and lost points as a result using this precedence as justification. I know some people will say it’s different to do this mid-season but this is rubbish instructions are instructions.

      1. What I have issues with though is disobeying team instructions. This is unethical and wrong regardless of the way you look at it.

        What I have issues with though is teams issuing nonsensical instructions. This is unethical and wrong regardless of the way you look at it.

        What they basically ordered Hamilton to do was hand the championship to Nico and give up on his chances. No true racing driver would do that, and the team made themselves look like complete idiots by giving an order they knew would be disobeyed.

    22. The only thing i found awful was the decision to pit RIC way too early. The rest I found fair game and hugely entertaining

      1. and Kimi!

    23. I think Mercedes are welcome to find themselves a driver who will submit to team orders while in the lead during the last race of the season with a chance to win the world championship any time they please, and good luck with THAT guy.

    24. Without Hamilton the race would have had a boring ending. Hamilton is the one who risked not winning the race by strategically slowing down, much to the consternation and awe of Nico. Hamilton is the one who placed faith in his ability to handle the situation without making it blatantly dangerous. We should be applauding instead of trying to denigrating him. Nico who was made the most tense by Hamilton’s actions was in awe of the way he did it. I applaud Nico for saying it “was awesome” the way he did it.
      I think Mercedes risk losing Hamilton by having asked/ordered him to speed up

    25. Michael Brown (@)
      28th November 2016, 18:09

      I don’t see the issue, honestly. It was Hamilton’s best tactic to ensure that Rosberg would be passed by other drivers, since a 1-2 would not win the championship for Hamilton.

      If Hamilton had dashed into the distance and Rosberg was left in clean air, I think it would have been unlikely that he would be threatened by Vettel and his late charge.

      I think Hamilton deserves credit: he was able to drive slow enough to hold up Rosberg and bring the other drivers into play, but fast enough to maintain the lead. Of course, this is Abu Dhabi. Also, Rosberg got DRS off of Hamilton, which Vettel claims is why he couldn’t get past Rosberg.

      1. With regards to the last point; let’s be fair, Vettel would never of been near Rosberg, if Hamilton hadn’t slowed Rosberg right down.

    26. I’m with those saying LH did nothing wrong or dirty. It was his only hand to play, so nobody should be surprised other than because he claimed it wouldn’t be practical, ahead of the weekend. But I think the more he saw that Nico wasn’t being rattled or threatened too much such that he would fall back into others’ clutches, the more he had to do what he did.

      1. geoffgroom44 (@)
        28th November 2016, 21:53

        Nico could have wiped the floor with them all at qualifying.But didn’t. So he went for the safe 2nd place and played ‘follow the leader’, benefiting from having Lewis show him the way and slipstreaming him.
        It would have been magnificent if Nico had raced and pressured Lewis. But didn’t risk it.
        Lewis won the race.Nico won the championship.Merc had already won the constructors.
        That was the F1 season for 2016.
        All else is simply posturing, showmanship, hype and…of course…a pulpit for anyone to air their moans. The media has to have something to talk about, huh?

    27. I have to agree that what Lewis did was correct and he did it fairly……just think if he had slowed them right down…with say 10 laps to go…knowing he could probably re overtake……
      Also Niki Lauda said in one interview that he would not slow out of respect to his team mate…but didn’t rule it out if it was another teams driver……and as a great fan of Nigel Mansell…..”Nigel in Lewis’s situation would you really have not done the same to Nelson Piquet?????”

    28. Lewis Hamilton, a guy Mercedes pays tens of millions of dollars to just tried to get two competing teams to score points at the expense of his own team. Only to benefit his own self.

      What a guy…

      1. geoffgroom44 (@)
        28th November 2016, 21:46

        They pay him to win.They pay Nico to win. Both did, so what exactly is your gripe?

        1. Just that he tried to help Ferrari and Red Bull score points at the expense of his team. Do they pay him for that? I just find it strange that that seems to be OK.

          1. Mercedes have already won the constructors championship. Given the fact that their entry fee is tied to the number of points they collect getting Red Bull and Ferrari to take points from Nico would have saved the team money.

            1. Heh. What a thoughtful person he is then. My perception of him has been completely unfair. He was trying to save the team money…that’s awesome, he’s awesome! Hopefully next season he will score even fewer points and save the team all kinds of cash.

    29. Basically Mercedes asked Hamilton to no longer challenge for his championship at he end. Usually i am a big fan of Hamilton and although i did appreciate him adding spice to the last race and not make it too easy for Rosberg, i wish he was man enough to congratulate him when it was over.

      1. Why do some of you keep saying that? When Lewis got out of his car, he kissed his Mum, hugged his mechanics, walked across & hugged all his old Mechanics (Now Nico’s), and as Rosberg had just climbed over into the pit lane & was in the middle of hugging his Mechanics, Lewis walked over & congratulated him! There was hand shaking, & pats on the back, & Hugs, & muffled words yelled through his visor!!!

    30. So what if it was a genuine fight for the title and Hamilton was actually slower? Would they order Lewis to move over to allow Rosberg through? After all it would jeopardise a 1-2……..

      1. They did ask Nico to let Lewis pas in Monaco this very season!
        It is championship all year, you know?
        Unlike Lewis, Nico is a TEAM player.
        Lewis should be given less powerful car next year to see his contract out.
        What a mistake Mercedes made resigning such selfish soul !!!

    31. Honestly surprised that no one has mentioned what I believe is the real issue here. Hamilton simply made use of the options available to him under the current rules of the sport… so I say the “dirty tactics” in question are simply a product of F1’s current rules package which (aero in particular) allowed him to “back up” his team mate… which in and of itself is ridiculous and why people are generally so unhappy with the current state of the F1. It’s become a championship of managing resources (tires, fuel, etc) and driving as slowly as you can… its moronic. F1 should be flat out, 100% of the time.

      1. While I agree that the cars are too slow and require way too much conservation of way too many things at once, for one thing that is about to change. But even if they were already in the faster wider louder cars, the same exact scenario as we had this past weekend would still have seen LH driving slower to try to put NR into other people’s sights. He still would have had no choice really but to do the exact same thing, although would likely have to keep the relative pace higher than in the current cars.

    32. I have been surprised by the reaction to Hamilton’s tactics of going slow, but then considering there are some who like to criticize Hamilton no matter what he does I really shouldn’t be surprised.

      It was the only option open to him if he wanted any chance of winning the title, the way he held Rosberg up wasn’t dangerous, he didn’t brake test him or swerve about the track.

      In the past drivers have held others up to try to make a strategy work for that race and there hasn’t been an outcry so why should it not be allowed when the biggest prize in the sport is on the table.

      I thought the thing which would generate most debate was the Mercedes radio messages to Hamilton. After saying in the build-up to the race that they wouldn’t interfere in the title battle they attempted to do just that.

      If Mercedes objective was to finish first and second they should have stated that before the race instead, saying something like we know it will mean there will be no fight for the championship but we want the cars to finish 1-2 although we don’t care about the order.

      Mercedes had already won the Constructors Championship and were guaranteed the Drivers’ Championship so they could have let them race with the only rule being not to hit each other, which is the first rule for all teammates.

      Another thing which I thought would have made bigger headlines was Toto Wolff supposedly phoning Jos Verstappen before the Brazilian GP to make sure Max didn’t interfere in the title battle.

      1. geoffgroom44 (@)
        28th November 2016, 21:44

        you got a follower here :-)

      2. @pja Your first 3 paragraphs, I agree. 4th paragraph…true but their level of interference was minimal and due to the Ferrari strategy for SV that Merc couldn’t have predicted. They were asking LH to carry on and take the win, which is something he had to do anyway if he had any chance for the WDC. 5th paragraph…they didn’t need to state what they have said all along from the start of the season…their objective was to take 1-2’s at all times if possible. 6th paragraph…telling them not to hit each other is one thing…guaranteeing that is completely another.

        Last paragraph…TW did indeed call Jos…Max confirmed that. The only reason TW felt the need was because in the 3rd last race, with it only being between LH and NR, Max shoved Nico off the track hard, who then had a bit of a cockeyed steering wheel for the rest of the race. Toto would never ask other drivers to not race their own. He was only asking Jos to remind Max not to hit one of the two title contenders, since Max already had. It was to point out that perhaps Max himself would not want to whack a contender off the track and thus decide the WDC for the world. In the end Max got it and did great. Race hard, race fair, hitting someone is never recommended anyway, and especially when it is one of the two only contenders for the title. What would have been in it for Max (or anyone, but Max has been the young and awesome firecracker on the track) to decide the championship for the sake of a too-hard pass? The negative reaction from around the world would have been infinitely greater than any kudos he would have gotten for a bullish move.

    33. Man, what about Seb? I’m not sure if he would try to attack Rosberg in the very end of the race. It seems that everyone supposes he would.

      1. spafrancorchamps
        28th November 2016, 21:38

        I was more surprised about Raikkonen not trying anything in the beginning of the race. They were almost standing still, and he didn’t make a single move. Until Ricciardo tried to get passed, he suddenly found the pace again at that point. It could have been much different up front had Ricciardo succeeded in passing Raikkonen, or if Kimi had actually tried to compete with Rosberg. I have an aversion against drivers not giving their best in the final race, just so that they won’t get involved in the championship battle. By doing so, they actually do involve.. I prefer a driver like Max much more, who will compete against the championship leader just as much in the last race as if he would in the second race of the season.

    34. Finally a blog where civilized debate on this incident can take place.
      Thanks to all !

    35. I am just surprised (or maybe I shouldn’t be, really) that all the discussion and debate is centered on the strategy Hamilton chose to adopt, which regardless of ones opinion was within the rules, and so little is being said about Mercedes decision to interfere in a race in which they had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to lose, and which they – Mercedes – by way of their team principle, had stated on numerous occasions prior to the race that they would not interfere in.

      Coming in a season that was full of allegations of sabotage against one driver and favoritism towards the other, it is my strong belief that Mercedes decision to finally interefere in the race IN THE MANNER THAT THEY DID, which was obviously to the detriment of one driver, is something that should be discussed and debated more, and the team principle and powers that be should be held more accountable as to why they chose to do what they did.

      1. I agree. I kept waiting for Hamilton to get on the radio and say “I got you your championship. Let me try to get mine.”

      2. geoffgroom44 (@)
        28th November 2016, 21:42

        I also agree. But in defence of Merc I would say that habits are hard to break!

        1. Mercedes could easily argue that they were instructing LH to carry on and win the race, which is something he had no choice but to do anyway. They are also allowed to consider their other driver. It is not solely about LH.

          As to the sabotage allegations…those have been ridiculous to TW and Mercedes all along, so they needn’t be more accountable for falsehoods to which they won’t even give the time of day. Mind you they did take the time to publish a letter defending the whole team after LH’s ‘no apparent reason’ comment regarding the crew swap.

          It’s their team and it came down to their drivers and they had every right to play it their way. They called for LH to go ahead and take the necessary win. It’s not like they pulled an MS/RB of Austria 02.

          How much should Mercedes have been reasonably expected to help make Nico’s life harder yesterday? Why should they have only supported LH to try extreme moves to win the WDC, and leave Nico a sitting duck?

          1. Ah… my friend @robbie. How are you? I do remember you are not a Hamilton supporter.

            Nonetheless, let me also respond to what you have said…..

            – Its a bit ridiculous to say “they were instructing LH to carry on and win the race”. He WAS winning the race. Believe me, he didn’t need anyone to tell him or instruct him to do that. Yes, “they are also allowed to consider their other driver”. Unfortunately in this case they were telling Hamilton to deliberately give up on the championship, to ensure that Rosberg won it. Fair? Not in my book.

            – With regards the sabotage allegations, you say “they needn’t be more accountable for falsehoods to which they won’t even give the time of day”. Thankfully you go on to correct yourself, by admitting that they did in fact “take the time to publish a letter defending the whole team after LH’s ‘no apparent reason’ comment regarding the crew swap”. As a matter of fact, they had to address the situation on more that one occasion, and it was not just about Hamiltons comments, but more on what was happening on social media, regarding all the failures Hamilton was experiencing, as well as certain comments that were coming out from Wolff and Lauda. Stuff like this can easily be verified by a quick google search, so it is important to get our facts right.

            – Yes, its their team. I guess thats what it comes down to. Its not about being fair or not showing favoritism. Its our team, and so we can do what we want. Can’t argue with that!

            – “Why should they have only supported LH”. No one has ever insinuated that they should have helped Hamilton in any way whatsoever, and they actually DID NOT help him in any way. The problem is they were trying to help Rosberg TO THE DETRIMENT OF HAMILTON. That is the whole point. That is the whole issue here. Especially as prior to the race, Wolff had stated several times that they would let the drivers race and they would NOT interfere with the race.

            Going in to the final race Mercedes had nothing to lose. They had the Constructors Championship, and it was a given that one of their drivers would get the WDC. That is why Wolff had insisted there would be no interference. It is quite telling, that given the season we had with all the allegations, as soon as Mercedes contemplated the possibility of Rosbergs World Championship being in peril, they acted in the way they did.

            To some of us, it comes as no surprise. To others, Mercedes did absolutely nothing wrong (it is THEIR team, afterall), and Hamilton was the one at fault for doing all in his power – within the rules of the sport – to try and win the WDC, which no doubt is the prime reason why he is a F1 driver.

            Hey… just my thoughts. Have a good evening!

            1. They have been keeping Hamilton on a leash since 2014. His qualifying reliability issues are seemingly orders of magnitude greater than his teammate. Mercedes have no competition, they won’t have any competition as long as the FIA keeps the 100+Kg/race formula going. Other racing series have done the very same thing, and it’s only ends are to favor the engine manufacturers. Nico Rosberg had his championship handed to him much like a pensioner is handed him/her a welfare check.

              This is show business, it’s not real competition, if it were real competition, the rules would not be rigged in the fashion they are.

              Mercedes will have the opportunity to own just as hard next year when the drive train/aero drag increases and dependence on fuel efficiency increases. It’s an absolute Farce, what F1 is, if you know just a little about chemistry, physics, and economics.

              The only factor keeping Mercedes honest this year was Lewis Hamilton, and he was sent aft of the 1st row numerous times, either before or after the lights went out. Mercedes are a monopoly, and monopolies create distortions, they do not have to operate “honestly” and they can pretty much rule with authority. This is the cultural ethos of F1.

              btw, I agree with your well constructed statement. I do know that you are very conservative, and dare not extrapolate, but I pretty much saw this season’s results, before it even started/early days (check my twitter). It’s a managed spectacle, a commercial for commercial interests. Not a marxist, but you might appreciate Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle, really speaks to the nature of this kind of entertainment.

    36. Glad Nico won it! Not happy Lewis acting like he’s been acting…

      Let’s not forget Vettel would prefer Nico winning his first title, not Lewis winning his fourth and matching him! So Vettel was not driving stupid, Nico was lucky it wasn’t Max “please don’t crash” Verstappen behind him. Vettel also understands that if he had crashed Nico out, it would sooner or later haunt him if he’s in similar position.

    37. Early on this season I was indifferent in regards to who wins WDC but then Monaco came and Rosberg was sporting enough to let Hamilton by (because Rosberg’s pace was holding up Hamilton). At that moment, I remember thinking that it would be good if Rosberg could win the title since he picked his battles and played for the long haul in points. So in that respect I think it’s fitting he did manage to win the title.

      I did not feel that Lewis played nearly as fair and he showed disrespect to the team for trying to sabotage his team mate’s race. Think of all the mechanics and engineers in Rosberg’s side of the garage that deserve the best result possible every time they contest a race

    38. spafrancorchamps
      28th November 2016, 21:28

      To me, Mercedes showed the worst side of themselves yesterday by not letting the guys race without interference. It is the season’s finale, it is no longer about the WCC, it’s about the WDC and about giving the fans a worthy ending to the season. I am here to watch some good racing action and to see drivers compete with each other. The drivers gave us that yesterday while driving fair and square, and although I was hoping Lewis would win the championship, I was satisfied when the chequered flag had dropped. The race had everything I’d like to see as a fan of the sport and that is the most important thing.

      Yesterday is the exact reason why Mercedes is such a dislikable team in my opinion. It is as if I am watching the big Toto Wolf show. As long as it is a boring 1-2, and his drivers are not risking overtaking one another (Mercedes strategists make sure of that), Toto is a happy man. As soon as it gets exciting Toto is there to spoil the party. From a team’s perspective, I actually get that.. until the point of you having already secured the WCC and winning the WDC is only a matter of which of your drivers it is going to be. You are here not just to win, you are here to give the fans the excitement they pay for. At this stage of the championship, let the drivers fight as long as they drive fair, and take the risk of losing the race for the good of the sport. In the end, that’s where both the fans and the teams profit from.

    39. To be honest, it was Dirty tricks and fair game at the same time.
      Lewis did dirty to increase his chances of winning the WDC, but fair game because he has the right to do a strategy…

      Anyway, I didn’t care about the winner because I was already looking forward to 2017.

      Just hoping that Mercedes won’t be as dominant the next year…

    40. geoffgroom44 (@)
      28th November 2016, 21:40

      The issue here,though, is at what point did they interfere. The race and commentary I watched suggested that Paddy Lowe became strongly involved only after a number of complaints from Nico. Such an intervention at such a late stage denied Nico his full glory at having managed the stress and the conditions himself.
      The result of all the hoo-ha is that a nail biting final few laps (to quote Paddy Lowe) provided much interest to viewers and fans and turned what could have been a monotonous race (saved really by Verstappen again for the most part and Seb Vettel in the last few laps on a charge) into something interesting.
      I have no doubt that both Lewis and Nico could have handled a late challenge from Ferrari and Red Bull. It seems the management team at Merc did have doubts.
      Added to this is Toto’s statement before the race of leaving them alone to race.
      All this ‘team instructions’ nonsense is exactly that, nonsense at this stage of the 2016 championships. Had Merc been so concerned about image and reliability, perhaps they should have considered a different oil specification before oil pressure was lost and Lewis’s engine blew up.
      In short, this is much ado about nothing and the race finished pretty well as had been predicted by most. For cool management, Lewis gets a star. For cool management, Nico gets a star. For extraordinary driving, Verstappen gets 3 stars. For interfering,posturing and pretentious management, Merc get a lemon.

    41. I’m sorry – THIS IS A RACE – if a car cannot overtake a driver driving slowly- then obviously there are not fast enough!!!
      What makes it tough is f1’s greatest weakness – racing in dirty air also leading to tyres that degrade faster when following closely to another car.

    42. The win was never in jepordy as Hamilton could’ve easily opened the gap that’s obvious, so I’m confused why Mercedes would suggest this unless they favour rosberg and wanted an excuse to get Hamilton to let him through. if rosberg knew how to warm up the tyres properly he could’ve got pole then there wouldn’t have been a problem, but he didn’t so don’t complain when Hamilton runs his race

    43. All else aside, does anyone else think Hamilton’s time at Mercedes appears to be up? Toto was very negative towards Hamilton in interviews after the race, to the point where I doubt Toto’s own neutrality in the matter. Looking back at a few other Mercedes utterances over the season from both Toto and Lauda, it’s difficult to see a future at Mercedes for Hamilton, IMO.

    44. Stewart and Mansell with entirely predictable responses :)

      Maybe I am biased, but I would say that the tactics were a) not dangerous and b) not disingenuous… i.e. everyone knew what was happening. This is unlike Monaco 2014 which was completely different – Rosberg basically denied everything and was pretty dishonest even though it was absolutely obvious to all (well, apart from Derick Warwick!).

      I think Hamilton should have one more season then leave Mercedes to be honest. Go to Ferrari or back to McLaren if there’s a seat.

      1. The only thing that was obvious to me about Monaco 2014 was that Nico had put in a banker lap already, something that everybody is well advised to do at a track such as this whenever possible. So having done that, he had the luxury of pushing extra hard on that last attempt, knowing that if he overcooked it somewhere, well he had the banker. At any time at Monaco a driver can have his final hot lap ruined by another car, so putting bankers in is wise. The stewards found nothing wrong, and that carries way more weight than the nudge nudge wink wink that comes from those millions that didn’t see the data.

    45. I don’t think there is a right or wrong in this case. It’s totally legal. But it does put a dark cloud over him, at least to some of his fellow drivers and past champions – not just the slow down tactics but his refusal to listen to team orders. Maybe he doesn’t care – that’s why he is a 3 time WDC. His cutting the chicane in Mexico without even turning a wheel soured me towards him.

      To me, Vestappen’s aggressive defence from Rosberg’s overtake was a bigger deal. Vestappe thinks he has to show the world how hard he is to overtake. That’s fine in most cases but when a WDC is at stake and the possibility exists of ruining someone’s title swallow your pride and move aside IF it’s obvious the opponent has the faster car and in this case it was.

      Eventually he will the learn “tit for tat” principle, or hopefully.

    46. I said this in an earlier post, but believe that all Mercedes have done is to feed Lewis’ paranoia, or further stoke the fires on his burgeoning sense of injustice (whichever way you want to look at it). To me it was inexplicable that they should ask him to speed up given the way he feels about his place in the team, unless they wanted to discomfort him even further. In post-race interviews I noted Nicki Lauda’s negative, almost aggressive, attitude and also Susie Wolff’s clear preference for a Nico win, and there has since been talk of ‘punishments’. And whilst I don’t think that Mercedes would have deliberately sabotaged any of Lewis’ races at any point in the season, I do get the sense that there is some incompatibility between team and driver that has played out throughout the season. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some severing of ties at some point in the near future, and – if this applies in the world of F1 motor racing – that Lewis might feel he has been constructively dismissed. And I’m not saying that Lewis is an entirely innocent party, but Mercedes know they have the beating of everyone and don’t necessarily need the best driver to secure wins, so why not find a more compliant driver who does what he’s told and will still win? They couldn’t accommodate Ross Brawn and seem to favour the safe option when choosing personnel. You may note that I’m not really a Mercedes fan!

      1. He handed in his notice after spain and backtracked on it

    47. Can we focus on the bigger picture here. Note to the heads of F1, if you want this sport to succeed then start listening to the fans and the drivers, not just your accountants. We want excitement. Bringing the changes for 2017 does just that. But how petty to criticise Hamilton. Imagine if Hamilton had gone all out to win the GP. It would have been just another boring Mercedes 1-2. But it’s not just Mercedes. Think about Red Bull dominance for so many years. Very similar situation. The quality is so high these days, that once a team nails it, they will inevitably dominate. Mechanical failures are rare compared to the past, so we need other forms of excitement. Lewis brought that yesterday. Jesus, if he’d tried to force Nico to crash, then sure that’s foul play, but he did the only thing he could. I’m on the brink of walking away from this sport with talk like this, and the fact that I soon won’t have the charasmatic Channel 4 or BBC F1 teams which shared so much chemistry. Afford it or not, sadly I will not be watching F1 from 2019 due to the money grabbing TV rights deal, that sees an inferior monopoly of broadcasting. Well done Ecclestone!

    48. I’m not a fan or Lewis or Nico but I thought the tactic was well within reason. It also made an otherwise boring race, enjoyable til the final corner.

    49. well why didnt nico try a move? even if he took both him and Ham out he would have still won, Ham should have backed him up sooner. im here to be entertained

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        29th November 2016, 2:24

        @mooncat you make it sound like this was a Formula One race and Nico – within DRS no less – could have passed Lewis.

        Even Vettel was daydreaming and spewing tales of how he could have passed both when he could barely pass a bottle of water to Kimi standing next to him…

    50. Personally I think it is dirty but fair at the same time. Racing is about being the fastest. It doesn’t mean that you need to absolutely win with record time, but you just need to finish in front of your rival to prove that you’re the fastest. Obviously Lewis was playing other games with him trying to back Nico into the pack. If this is just one on one race then he wouldn’t do it. So yes, it is somewhat dirty. But at the same time he didn’t put Nico body in danger, he stayed within the rules, and he did it for what he thinks his greater good (winning the championship) so fair game to him. I don’t like seeing Lewis did it, but I enjoy the fact that he did it. Yes, I’m complicated.

    51. No problem with Lewis’s tactics. I think the debate comes about because we just don’t really see that type of tactic employed very often on such a major stage. Next time maybe there won’t be as much discussion.

      More telling for me was Lewis’s inability to congratulate Nico in the briefing room – let alone even glance at him. Really not a big surprise as we already know his mentality and what matters to him. I don’t devalue his skill as a driver at all, but geez – he really is self-centered!

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        29th November 2016, 2:30

        @gitanes he stopped by at Parc Ferme and congratulated Nico pretty nicely and he also congratulated him twice on the podium.

        1. Ok maybe I missed the Parc Ferme part – I had thought there was nothing until the podium

    52. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      29th November 2016, 2:21

      This is turning into a charade – mommy I can’t race…. I can’t race… Lewis is holding me back!!!


      Nico’s so used to hitting Lewis’ car that he was afraid of passing because he might instinctively hit him like he has over the past 4 years…

      You haven’t seen nothing yet!!! Wait for the most ridiculous development in F1. You thought Spygate was bad, it’ll be nothing compared to what will unfold. And all Lewis did was congratulate his teammate several times.

      Who’s wearing the tin-foil hats now? Go get them and never take them off until you’ve been instructed to…

    53. Lewis said he won’t back Nico up, but he did. Mercedes said they won’t interfere, but they did. I don’t see the big deal. Had Seb gone by Nico, Lewis would have upped the pace, Seb would have gone faster, Nico would have gone faster. Max was on the limit of his really old tires and would have been left behind. Nico still wins the title. Lewis lost the championship long ago. In hindsight, he should have backed Nico up in Brazil with all that rain and spray.

    54. It amazes me why everyone is getting so uptight about Lewis and especially the comment made by Vettel!! We didn’t get anywhere near as much coverage when he stitched up his teammate by ignoring team orders and overtaking Webber. These guys are racing drivers and are out there to win, no matter at what cost. All I can say is that these tactics were a lot better and fairer than Senna, Schumacher, Vettel and so on used by eliminating there rivals. So lets just put this scenario to bed once and for all.

    55. Luis de la garza
      29th November 2016, 7:30

      By complaining/acussing Mercedes of sabotage , HAM is biting the hand that feeds him. The team is called Mercedes not Hamilton racing.
      HAM is really really good but he is not as good as he think he is.

    56. Lol, at old drivers… They speak of unsporting behaviour, yet back in the day, they were cutthroats.

      No shame in what Lewis did. He was a bad looser. But he is hired for being s good winner. He won the race and is firmly second greatest race winner of all time.

      1. @jureo I don’t see how HAM was a bad loser.

        I’d say he was way worse in 2011 (a year in which he had no chance of winning)

        1. @davidnotcoulthard yea he was certainly worse then…

          But he is still a bad looser. He does not recognise defeat, or such a thing as good loosers…

          Also, he now has several wins in a row, like Nico had last year… And look where that took him.

    57. I think we all knew that Hamilton will do something (blocking and slowing ROS at the first corner, slowing the pack, spin ROS, etc.) and to be honest it was the only reason I actualy watched the race! It was very expected that HAM won’t just cruise to victory from pole. As much as ROS playing it safe not geting involved in dangerous battles. I also thought that VER, RIC, VET, RAI might be close to Rosberg in the race. I’m not a Hamilton fan but also not a hater. I simply don’t like his image/livestyle/style but I respect that he behaves like he want (you know golden chains, diamond earing, private G5 flights PLAYAAA style, celebrity image, his artistic and religious side, hughs with Justin bieber are simply not my thing;). I want to watch racing drivers not racing supah stars (even that most of them are very popular worldwide) so I do rate HAM highly as a driver. For me he always was something- he is not the best overal driver out there but he might be the fastest! He has the egoist- champion factor in him. It was clear at every race this year that HAM knows that he is there only to beat Nico (because only ROS can beat him to the WDC). And I didn’t like what he did at the final race. I uderstand why he did it and knew he will try do something. Because he is a very fast driver and doesn’t want to be beaten. He had same races to nail the championship and failed (sure he had failures, DNF etc) but is is motorsport it is not all to the driver. He has by far the most dominant car 3 years in a row and I think that is something that you should be happy about. I didn’t see his joy.
      You all may not agree but for me he just lacks class. Being a great driver is not only about winning but also how you lose and we all saw what kind of loser (which kind) HAM is. Maybe he is not at VET or ALO crybaby level yet but these two atleast do have reasons not to be happy and show frustration. It’s not HAM fault that he lost points this year but it’s also not ROS it’s just life in motorsport. Hamilton was never that much of a team player we all know that – but it is not the reason why he might never be an all-time best. I think it is more about the scale of how much he isn’t a team player. Even his contract isn’t a reason enough for him to play how the team wants.

    58. I think Hamilton play hard, but that was the only way to try to be champion again, and that is what a driver want to be at the end, isn’t it?
      Anyway, I found quite ridiculous the Mandell tweet. Maybe he forgot Estoril 1990, when put almost against the wall his team mate Prost. And what about the time he was already disqualified and continue to race ignoring the black flag, until he finally made an incident with Senna? What a sport man!

    59. I have no issue with the way that Lewis drove at all – it was his race to control and that’s what he did.


      How priceless would it have been if the radio message was “Lewis – Nico is faster than you – do you understand” :)

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