Mercedes ‘would only interfere if win was under threat’

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In the round-up: Toto Wolff reiterates Mercedes’ rules of engagement for its drivers following the team’s warnings to Lewis Hamilton during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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A remarkable statistic considering Germany won’t have a grand prix next year:

Until 1994 the drivers; championship had never been won by a German. Of the 23 drivers’ championships since 1994, 12 of them have been won by Germans. Germany still can’t claim as many drivers’ championship titles as Grat Britain (16) but astonishingly those 12 WDCs championships been won by just three people, whereas the 16 British championships have been shared by ten people.

Obviously some people may dispute Rosberg’s claim to race as a German, but he does race under that nationality whether people like it or not.

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Graham Hill and Tony Brise were among those who lost their lives in a air crash on this day in 1975.

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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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35 comments on “Mercedes ‘would only interfere if win was under threat’”

  1. Mercedes should give Lewis a 2 months race suspension starting immediately.

    1. @hohum – good one!

    2. I think they’ve already put him in detention by making him do the tyre test at Adu Dhabi.

      1. @nickwyatt Lewis only did a couple of laps, Wehrlein took over for the remainig of the day.

    3. yes, that would fit him right @hohum :-)

  2. Good updates on the Halo from Dr. Brent May. I would definitely like to see more detail from the conference/session he is attending.

    Are there any rules on how quickly marshals / fire marshals should be able to reach any point on a circuit? I’m just wondering that while self-extrication might take longer, are drivers at significantly higher risk due to this before marshals arrive on the scene to assist.

    1. Yes. Appendix H of the International Sporting Code has the relevant regulations (and, therefore, these apply to all international motor sport – there are separate Articles for rules specific to circuit and rally racing).

      There are multiple requirements for adequete marshal coverage of circuits, which need to be read together:

      – Article 2.3.2 requires that every part of the circuit must be within “approximately 500 m” of a full marshal post (not counting a potentially less-equipped supplementary post), as that is the maximum distance of separation. Note that full posts have to be able to communicate with Race Control directly (and therefore be able to summon extra help for removal of the driver – a two-stage process known as disincarceration and extrication).

      – Article reduces this distance to “approximately 250 m” if circumstances require all the full marshal posts in an area to be on the same side.

      – Also in Article 2.3.2, all posts must be able to see the previous and subsequent post, which in the case of corners means marshals are typically closer to any trouble spots. Supplementary posts, featuring at least two flag marshals but not necessarily any spare ones to assist with rescues, can be used to bridge such a gap. If this condition cannot be met even with supplementary posts, all racing activity must cease until/unless the problem(s) is/are resolved.

      – Article states that the ideal (note: not compulsory) response time is 60 seconds, but that this doesn’t just cover the marshals arriving at the scene, but also for any fire to be under control and not in or near the cockpit (not necessarily fully extinguished), for a plan to be in place for disincarcerating, extricating and commencing the treatment of anyone who needs assistance and for all people and equipment to be in place to do these things, except for “supplementary vehicles” including the medical car – those are required to arrive as soon as practicable.

      – Article stipulates that if a disincarceration vehicle is needed (for example because of the complexity of extracting someone with a partially compromised Halo is beyond the skill of the marshals), it is to arrive ideally (again, not necessarily) within 90 seconds. Time limits for actual removal of drivers from Halo-equipped cars is limited only by any urgency indicated by injuries, the desire to resume racing as soon as possible and marshals’ innate wish to do their jobs as well as possible. (Herbie Blash is going to be responsible for marshal training from 2017, the first time such a position has been established, which is likely to help).

      – Article gives Race Control the right to summon both the stricken car’s team manager and an engineer from the team to help with rescue efforts, if that’s needed, but no timeframe is given for this. Presumably they have the same length of time to respond to the summons as they would if the reason for summons was anything else. They may be taken to the scene of the accident, make themselves known to the rescue team chief, and provide verbal assistance. They cannot assist the marshals or extrication team in any other fashion, nor can they be trackside once they have introduced themselves to the rescue team chief.

      – From Article, if any heavy equipment for effecting rescues (such as cranes) are in use (regardless of whether they are ever intended to be trackside of the barrier – so even the big cranes used in Monaco count for this), two marshals must be stationed with the crane, that do not count towards the “marshal post staff” count, do not need to be based at a marshal post, and can assist with rescues (thus perhaps reducing response time) if given permission by the nearest marshal post and the relevant protective measures (yellow/red flags, (Virtual) Safety Car…) deployed first.

      1. @alianora-la-canta – thank you very much for that factual response, and for collating the different articles. 👍

  3. There’s nothing worse than brittish journalism.

    1. British Politicians possibly

    2. Spiders.

      1. Indeed, and wasps

    3. Yes.
      On the conspiracy tweet. Want conspiracies, look no further than 2014, steering wheel contamination blah blah. You can also look at 2010, why did Webber pit first? and 2008 and 2003 is also a controversial season. The old safety car rule was very controversial the one that lead to 2008 singapore and god knows how many more races.

  4. “So our very clever guys, who have won us many races with strategy said this is a race that we were going to lose because even if he accelerates his pace Sebastian’s tyres are in a much better state, and if you start to rely on your gut feeling and not on the science then you’ve lost anyway.” – Toto Wolff (see linked article).

    Well, Hamilton decided not to go with their ‘strategy’, and he/they subsequently went on to win the race.

    Does this mean that their ‘very clever guys’ are not very clever afterall?

    1. Those very same clever guys who threw away the Monaco win last year…

    2. Mostly in this case it means they would have won either way. In the end, Verstappen lacked the tyres and Vettel the speed round the corners to make a pass on either Mercedes work. As such, both strategies (Mercedes’ and Hamilton’s) would have led to a Mercedes victory.

    3. petebaldwin (@)
      29th November 2016, 11:32

      They clearly aren’t that clever if they realise that they were working to completely different goals than Hamilton….

      Hamilton and Rosberg were trying to win the Championship. That’s kind of a big deal…. Mercedes were trying to win a race in a Championship they have already won. It’s nice to win races but surely they are bright enough to understand that the drivers had slightly more to think about?

      If anyone deserves a punishment, it should be those who managed to make Mercedes look bad in a race where one of their drivers won the title! That’s not easy to do but they managed it!

  5. Thanks @keithcollantine for the COTD :)

  6. ColdFly F1 (@)
    29th November 2016, 9:02

    Why Mercedes preferred Rosberg to win the WDC.
    In theory teams focus on the WCC, and do not care which of their drivers wins the WDC.
    But the WDC is the more ‘difficult’ trophy: in a 21 race season you ‘only’ need 14 1-2’s to guarantee the WCC, but need 17 wins to guarantee a WDC. Thus if only one driver wins all the WDC’s for them, it creates an image that the driver is carrying the team rather than the team carrying the drivers.
    Mercedes needs to be seen as the dominant team more than Hamilton being seen as the dominant driver.
    Therefore, having Rosberg win this year is not so much a win for him, but more cements the view that this winning streak is all due to the team – Mercedes!

    1. @coldfly
      “But the WDC is the more ‘difficult’ trophy: in a 21 race season you ‘only’ need 14 1-2’s to guarantee the WCC, but need 17 wins to guarantee a WDC. Thus if only one driver wins all the WDC’s for them, it creates an image that the driver is carrying the team rather than the team carrying the drivers.”

      No it doesn’t, at least not in this case: Mercedes won 51 out of 59 races during last three seasons and out of those 51 victories Hamilton had 31 and Rosberg 20. Mercedes had 31 1-2’s. Hamilton and Rosberg were the two best drivers on drivers’ championship on each of those three seasons.

      I’m pretty sure that no one would think that Hamilton was carrying Mercedes during these three years, even if he had won all three championships.

    2. There is probably a strong element of truth in what you say but I just can’t understand how inept at people management these teams are. It was obvious after the pit stops and when Seb appeared to have just one more chance than a snowball in H…. of catching and passing Rosberg that Lewis would slow the pace. Of course had Lewis driven at even 95% both he and Rosberg would have been of down the road and Sebs not so thrilling drive would have ended up in a very easy and predictable third place. In a normal race situation this would have been the outcome and we could have all had a nice snooze after mid distance ( some of us need this to recover from the excitement of the TV.prequel to the race). But instead the inevitable happened and instead of letting the drivers control the entertainment we hear the team instructing one driver who they know won’t give in to obey a command he is obviously going to ignore.

    3. @coldfly So going by your theory, it is totally reasonable to deduce that Mercedes ‘engineered’ Rosbergs championship win for the benefit of the brand?

      Pretty much lines up with what some of us ‘conspiracy theorists’ have been screaming all year long.

  7. “You could not fault either driver – unless you don’t understand motor racing. When all is said and done, both drivers did everything they could to win.”

    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. Maybe I don’t understand it, but if this is the “racing” F1 feels is best for its brand, it’s going to lose out very hard, even more so than it already has.

    1. Did both drivers do the right thing within the rules? Apparently so, they both played the game perfectly, I want to make clear that I understand now that they both made the smartest decisions to win given their situations, faultless in that regard. But if you ask me the rules shouldn’t allow it, and to call it good racing is a joke.

    2. Sports are always a combination of talent, skill, physical fitness and tactics. If you don’t like the tactical stuff, watching sports is probably not your thing.

      And if you want racing drivers that go flat out all of the time, forget about F1 and give the NHRA a try.

      1. Where did I say I don’t like tactics? Saving your car mechanically or sacrificing it earlier is a tactic, using alternate strategies is a tactic, taking alternate lines is a tactic, using political or financial advantage is a tactic, making risky design decisions is a tactic, there are all sorts of great tactics in Motorsports.

        1. So basically what you are saying is that everything is an acceptable tactic EXCEPT what Lewis Hamilton did?

          As someone else has already suggested, maybe F1 is not for you!

          1. “EXCEPT what Lewis Hamilton did?”

            Did you even read what I wrote? “they both played the game perfectly, I want to make clear that I understand now that they both made the smartest decisions to win given their situations, faultless in that regard.”

            How could I be any clearer? My issue is not with either drivers actions…

    3. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
      29th November 2016, 12:59

      So you would have preferred both Mercedes 40 seconds down the road as usual and the championship result apparent by midway through the race? No thank you. People like you are the reason F1 is so dull sometimes.

      1. Well no, I would prefer a closer competition in general, that both Mercedes would be 40 seconds down the road is part of the problem.

  8. It annoys me that they’d put a single race win, weeks after wrapping up the WCC, over letting their drivers prove their mettle on the track. If nothing else, Lewis made Nico prove beyond doubt that he is a deserving champ. Great stuff from both of them. Shame on the pit wall.

  9. The day is not far of when driver less F1 will be possible Mercedes will be able to instruct their cars to do exactly what they want, nobody will be watching and nobody will care.

  10. Mercedes must be blind if they think anyone was going to beat a Mercedes in Abu Dhabi

  11. That’s not a nice place to be. Toto will decide if Mercedes as a team are the one who promote better races or just plain weak.

  12. Mercedes ‘would only interfere if win was under threat’

    The question is, whose win?

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