Mercedes on team orders: “We don’t like this at all”

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In the round-up: Toto Wolff says Mercedes are not happy about having to impose team orders on their drivers.

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If we have to have DRS, is GP3’s implementation of it an improvement?

Close, but no cigar. I totally agree with the limited number of uses per race, but the drivers should be allowed to use the push-to-pass anywhere on track at any time for any reason, attack, defend, close a gap, extend a gap, whatever.

This puts the race craft back in the driver’s hands as to when and where he/she employs various race tactics knowing he/she only has limited use of the system. Get rid of ‘DRS zones’ altogether.
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60 comments on “Mercedes on team orders: “We don’t like this at all””

  1. “I have already met with some German representatives, and naturally we are talking about the two race tracks that have held the German Grand Prix in the past.

    Met with Angela Merkel, I hope? Would seem logical after meeting Erdogan.

    1. Only dictators meet to arrange formula one

    2. I understand that actually Erdogan using that picture upset Liberty and lowers the (already slim) chance that a race will actually go ahead there @mike-dee

  2. Hopefully there are talking about reconstructing the old long Hockenheim track that blasts through the forest…. ;)

    1. @dangerpaws As amazing as that would be I sadly don’t think we will ever see Hockenheim put back to how it was/should be.

      I loved that track, Not just because of the speed or the history but because it was unique in F1 & had it’s own set of challenges due to how little downforce they ran. It also usually featured a lot of good racing with some slip-streaming battles, side by side racing down & some good overtaking into the chicanes/stadium.

      Watching the cars doing over 200mph down the straights & then snaking about under heavy braking for the chicanes & sliding about in the stadium where downforce was needed was always fun & as I say offered up a rather unique challenge which we don’t really see anymore as none of the current circuits require the sort of super skinny, super low downforce wings anymore.

      1. We still have Monza :)

      2. @stefmeister Couldn’t have said it better.

      3. @stefmeister, frankly, I take the view that James Hunt took of Hockenheim, which was the complete opposite of what you say – that it was a boring circuit layout that tended to lead to “Noah’s Ark” racing and tended to spread the pack out very quickly (I remember him complaining during one race that the top ten comprised of the two McLaren’s, followed by the two Ferrari’s, then the two Williams, two Benettons and finally the two Lotus drivers, all of whom were between one to two seconds of their team mate and were circulating more or less on their own).

        Similarly, when Brundle has talked about the old Hockenheim circuit in the past, I recall that he held no real affection for the circuit either. He felt that most of the old track offered little challenge to the driver and therefore driver ability made no difference – it was a circuit which was all about the performance of the car, along with a hefty dose of blind luck as to whether your car lasted the distance or not.

        Without the uncertainty caused by a high rate of mechanical failures, I think that the old Hockenheim circuit would produce terrible races in this era. Monza has very similar characteristics to the old Hockenheim circuit, and frankly the races in recent years have been predictable and fairly tedious – I think that is exactly the same sort of races you would get on the old Hockenheim circuit these days.

        1. Personally, I loved the old Hockenheim and always preferred it to Monza. Yes, it could produce dull races but then don’t they all? It was so cool when the cars would exit turn 1 and then blast off into the forest, like a canyon between the trees. It felt like we were going on a journey – leaving the safety of the stadium section, heading off for a 220mph blast (or 4) and then back into the light and the noise in the stadium again. And then 2002 happened and it was all lost, another homogenous tilkedrome added to the many others in the calender. I mean the circuit is fine, and if I’d never seen the previous Hockenheim I’m sure I’d like it even more. But I do know what was once there.

        2. Evil Homer (@)
          22nd April 2017, 14:44

          I remember Brundle saying he was driving a Zakspeed down the back straight and holding on for dear life lol.

          Sounds better than Abu Dhabi!!!!

          1. @evilhomer, well, Brundle did say that if you had a good car you’d probably like the old circuit, since you were almost guaranteed a good performance – if you had a bad car, then you were pretty much assured of a slog of a race.

  3. Alonso is the trump of F1. Fooled Stan’s
    Attacks his opponents even tho they f thhemslves.

  4. The Honda McLaren dilemma of Honda wanting to supply more than just McLaren is a double edged sword. If more data were available by running more engines and that could make for a more reliable able to run with more power that would stand to benefit McLaren greatly. Particularly with prize money if the improvements were great enough. So, by being exclusive, they have possibly lost opportunities and money.

    The other side of this is what team would really want to take their current power unit out and put the Honda engine in its place as it stands right now. Or even for 2018 with promises of course that the Honda will be much improved by then. *cough cough*

    Even if Sauber really is exploring the possibility of doing just that for 2018, which looks better for 2018? A 2017 Ferrari engine or a possibly improved 2018 Honda? Even if (just speculating here) Honda gave them free engines and they were not very much improved over 2017 Honda engines, where is the value in that?

    1. @bullmello I think even Honda has said supplying a second team before now would have been detrimental because of the resource drain, but of course if this is improved there’s the benefit like you say.

      And I think Honda would be best for Sauber in 2018. They seem to be hanging on by the skin of their teeth and there’s no further back than back of the grid, there’s only out.

      1. Honda would suck for team like sauber. Sauber currently has the weakest car in f1 and have the biggest financial issues as well. What sauber needs more than anything else is reliability. The only way for sauber to finish in points is to finish every race. Then maybe once or twice per year they’ll score big and finish in top10. Their only weapon is reliability and with honda they’ll never get even that.

        Reliability is also extremely important for team like sauber because sauber can not afford to do lots of development work. Engine that is constantly broken and running faulty makes it impossible to asses how good is your chassis and where are the issues. A team like mclaren can just throw money at the issues and work around these expensive problems. Sauber can’t.

        Sauber also wants to be running all the time. They want to maximise their presence on the track hoping to catch as much tv time as possible. Not starting a race because your engine is kaput is not good value for money.

        Unless honda engine would be massively cheaper there is no point at all to switch. Or unless honda can pay sauber to get some better drivers (get rid of ericsson). It would hurt sauber a lot. And it would not be good honda either. Honda needs a team that can afford to participate in all possible future testing sessions and run lots of laps. Sauber is not that team. Worst case scenario is that honda can’t even keep up with supporting two teams.

        Unless there is a massive difference in finances I’d pick 2016 ferrari over any year honda engines… With old ferrari sauber can at least imagine being in the points in some races. With honda they will never be.

  5. I typically enjoy the odd JV statement, but I have to disagree with him here.

    It is understandable that Alonso won’t be able to a P1 outing at Le Mans while under contract to Mclaren Honda. Now that he’s getting a crack at Indy, I suspect he will keep going back until he wins, this may be a a bargaining chip for Mclaren to keep him on.

    The only realistic chance of him doing Le Mans is after he’s out of his current contract. If Alonso is chasing the final leg of his Triple Crown when he gets his Le Mans shot, the media exposure to for race would see a marked increase. This would make the event more appealing to sponsors, and manufacturers will be more than happy to share the spotlight.

    The world we live in is full of cross platform marketing strategies, and Alonso chasing his Triple Crown, say in a Porsche , would be a marketers dream.

    Two iconic racing brands coming together at the greatest race in the world chasing the honour of best racing driver of all time…who wouldn’t want to be a part that?

    1. I would love to see montoya team up with alonso at monza, montoya is currently closest of any driver to triple crown.

      1. JV himself has won F1, Indy 500 and has a 2nd plaxe finish at Least Mans….

        1. …which doesn’t prevent him from issuing the most stupid comments ever…every time. A serious weirdo.

    2. I don’t think it is as simple as saying FA will just keep trying Indy 500. A lot of stars have to align for that to happen. For example this year it is a Mac/Honda/Andretti/Zak Brown force that sees FA with this chance. Anybody think FA will still be with McHonda next year? So whose giving him an Indy ride next year if that’s the case? Let’s say he’s at Renault, or my preference Merc…would it make sense for him to skip Monaco with his new team? No. Lemans? Who knows, right? That bridge can only be addressed once he’s left F1 so it is a complete mystery right now as to what might happen with who for FA at Lemans.

  6. Hockenheim and Nurburgring… and other options. Interesting! Like what? Correct me if I’m wrong g but there are no other German F1-standard circuits so any others would require a lot of work on them. Lausitzring? Oschersleben? No thanks. Sachsenring?! Nuremburg?! Formula Eva’s raced at Tempelhof airport and in East Berlin. Ah, of course I’m missing the other circuit to have hosted an F1 Championship round: AVUS!

    1. Could they possibly be eyeing up a street circuit somewhere?

    2. Why not Lausitzring? The GP circuit incl turn 1 would be interesting.

    3. FE basically raced at the parking lot at Templehof. If they used the runways and the byroads, they could have a nice, fast flowing 5 – 8Km long circuit around the place. I’m sure I saw a “track” traced on f1fanatic sometime ago, when this topic was discussed, but Google maps will get you there.

  7. If Sauber dont score points this season, it wont make much difference if they run an unreliable Honda next season.

    I think the Honda has been too unreliable to have offered it to a paying customer, so it only makes sense for a team like Sauber if they get it for free.
    This year the Hondas are failing at the rate of about 3 or 4 per race weekend, which will be 6 to 8 if they supplied a second team. That’s a lot of metal to carry back to Japan.

    1. True, a lot of metal to freight back to Japan, and a lot of new engines to freight from Japan to Europe, and a lot of penalty places incurred by the teams that use the engines, but being last is about as far back as you can go. If you’re last it doesn’t mean much to get 5 penalty places.
      On the upside, I can’t recall as single Mercedes or Ferrari customer who has won a race in the last 3 years. The only customer team that has won from the start of the 2014 season is Red Bull Racing, so having an engine supplier that doesn’t have their own team could be an advantage.

  8. What Wolff is saying is complete BS. If they really don’t like TO, they should give the position back to VB after Lewis failed to deliver.

    1. exactly @toxic.
      They should have said “Lewis, either you fight for your position, or we give it to you but you have to give it back if not successful.”

      So now we have either Hammertime for Lewis or Screwedtime for Bottas ;)

      1. Sundar Srinivas Harish
        22nd April 2017, 11:38

        Case 1 –
        Lewis: “I’m actually comfortable where I am.”

        Case 2 –
        Lewis: “If Valtteri wants my place, he can take it from me.”

        I don’t see Ham giving any leeway to Bottas, whatever his claims regarding their working relationship might be. Bottas needs to do a Rosberg and fight for his places, and make Lewis fight for his own.

        1. I think things have happened as they should have. Mercedes have proved overwhelmingly that they far prefer giving their drivers equal opportunity, and last weekend was unique. It became their best shot…there’s never guarantees in racing. LH should have handed VB back the spot once he was unsuccessful? No the optics of that would have looked terrible. Hey I don’t like team orders either but I have always been fine with them when they simply make sense and when even the driver giving up the spot understands it. The while point was that as circumstances dictated they saw that SV is a threat even without pole, the points race is already between LH and SV for now, so to take some points away from LH by giving VB the spot back would have defeated what they were trying to do, which is to keep SV from running away with a points lead of concern.

          1. the points race is already between LH and SV

            That’s nonsense @robbie, and you should know it.
            Vettel is less ahead of Bottas (and Kimi) than Rosberg was ahead of Hamilton after 3 races in 2016.
            And Hamilton was certainly not ‘out of the points race’ last year; thus neither is Bottas this year!

            It’s way too early for Mercedes to discount Bottas for the WDC race, unless they have decided/promised to make Hamilton their #1.

          2. @f1-liners
            Theres an abolute difference between being behind your teammate in a dominating team and the team being behind another team.

            This is a teamsport and Hamilton/Bottas is just 2 of the 1000 people in the team, what reason could they possibly have for those two to fight each other instead of enforcing teamplay to beat Ferrari?
            Can you imagine a footballteam allowing their two strikers competing for most goals instead of using teamwork to win the match?

            Sure if you are dominating and finish 1-2 every race you can say “let them race each other and see if Rosberg can catch up, that would be exiting” but thats not at all the situation here. Who knows maybe Bottas gets on with it and catches up but he cant do that at the expense of Ferrari running away with it.

          3. @f1-liners “..unless they have decided/promised to make Hamilton their #1.”

            Seems obvious. There was no order for Bottas to go through and chase Vettel in Australia when he was stuck behind Hamilton.

          4. @f1-liners I like how you conveniently cut short my sentence by ignoring to add the “for now” at the end.

            Don’t get me wrong I want VB to challenge LH and SV too. And I haven’t written him off by any stretch. I’m just accounting for why Merc did what they did under the specific circumstances of the last race in which indeed VB did not compete enough. Not blaming him…he’s only just begun against all that LH is. Reality is it will be a feat for the record books if he can very quickly get leading in races, and his pole was a great sign, but…one race at a time…

    2. Yea, he should’ve pulled over and waited for Bottas to make up the 14s he was behind and let him back through. 😏

    3. The reason Lewis did not need to give the position back was because he would have passed Bottas anyway. He might have taken a few laps but he would have got past.

    4. Normally i would agree (it even helps Seb in the standings); but Lewis was 15 seconds ahead. How awe-full would have been for Lewis to “wait” 15 seconds in the last laps and let Valtteri pass.
      And besides it looked like Lewis would have passed Bottas no matter what in the last stint. The only difference was the way they did it, he did not lost time behind his team-mate; like Seb in China …

  9. LovelyLovelyLuffield
    22nd April 2017, 8:54

    This SniffPetrol quote in particular:

    ‘If the British people can’t get behind the team after that,’ admitted one Westminster insider, ‘we probably have to admit that they’re basically just Arrows with a sense of entitlement.’

    Also says there the British might as well support Cooper or Connaught. Which makes sense because a rumor I picked up from sources said that Connaught is getting promoted to F1 for the first time in 20 years! Congratulations to them!

    1. LovelyLovelyLuffield
      22nd April 2017, 8:56

      EDIT: Oh no, it is 34 years! I posted the wrong link! Ugh.

  10. It will be interesting to see what happens to Force India when Mallya is extradited to India and tried and imprisoned.

    1. i’m really hoping for them to survive this as they made some money last year coming in 4th in the championship, but it’s not looking great for them atm.
      Hopefully they’ll get aquired by a solid company or automaker, maybe the indians from TaTa (who own Jag-LR) and run the F1 team under the Jaguar branding. I’d love to see a well funded, racing green Jag F1 car.

  11. “It doesn’t matter how much money you have or how rich you are, you can’t avoid the law”. The Guardian likes to publish its ideologies, but sadly that is just not true. You only have to look at Murdoch to see that

    1. John Toad (@)
      22nd April 2017, 18:40

      Or Bernie

  12. petebaldwin (@)
    22nd April 2017, 9:41

    it is just a moment of realization that if you don’t react, you’re going to lose the race, then you have to make that call.”

    And by using team orders, they won the race?

    1. Xeque-mate!…

      At F1 team orders are only bad for sport if they are performed by Ferrari…

    2. I think we all know there are no guarantees in racing, right? As TW said, it was their best shot. Simple as that. And indeed LH got closer to SV in the end than VB was going to. So a mistake on SV’s part might have seen a closing LH with a chance for the win…at least moreso than a lagging VB.

    3. It’s perfectly normal for a team to ask drivers to move over when they are on different strategies as was the case here. I don’t really know why people are getting their knickers in such a twist about it.

  13. At F1 team orders are only bad for sport if they are perfomed by Ferrari…

  14. “We don’t like this at all. We haven’t done this in the last year…”

    What about Monaco?

    1. So, almost a year then. Why split hairs? His point is they’ve only resorted to orders when they have made sense even for the driver having to cede the position. Nico knew it was a no-brainer in Monaco. If the most affected party, Nico, or VB last weekend, understands the decision, who are we to argue it? I’m just glad Merc does it begrudgingly.

      1. I’m not against it, it’s a team sport, I just though they have short memory…

  15. Evil Homer (@)
    22nd April 2017, 14:51

    Don’t like team orders but it’s what we have. But I do believe if you can’t win the place then give it back your team mate. Dan done this in Monaco a few years back…….. Lewis wont do this.

    1. I might suggest Dan wasn’t fighting for the WDC. Had he been he wouldn’t have given up points. LH won’t, nor will the team take from him once given, because he is a potential WDC’er this season. That’s the whole point. The unfortunate reality that so far seems to be evolving is LH, assuming he at a minimum has a natural leg up on newbie to the team and unproven winner VB, let alone he might simply be better, may need every three extra points here and there he can get if SV is going to take the lion’s share without even needing poles to do it.

  16. It is just a moment of realization that if you don’t react, you’re going to lose the race, then you have to make that call.

    Bold faced lie, I called it in the live race thread as it happened, there was no way Hamilton was catching Vettel to even an average joe with a timing screen. The order was “for the show” so commentators could get the viewers (without a timing screen) excited and not much else besides a few points in the championship (which Hamilton probably would have got anyway.)

  17. Bottas move to Mercedes presented an interesting conundrum to the team. He is too slow in the race to take the fight to Lewis like Rosberg did. He is also too slow to beat Vettel on a straight fight, even with a slight car advantage.
    For that reason Mercedes is left with the only choice which is favouring Lewis, as it is too close to Ferrari this year to allow Bottas slow race pace to screw their Sunday’s. Its not something the team has had to deal with in the past but I really see no other choice (unless Bottas significantly improves).
    It is unfortunate for the fans, imagine having Alonso on the other Mercedes? We would be in for a fight of titanic proportions.

    1. I think you are overlooking that VB is new to the team, as would FA be if he were LH’s teammate. Is there no patience or understanding that it would be very hard for any driver to parachute into that seat and immediately match or beat LH? Is F1 hard or not? I think the main thing going on here is that Merc has found out that SV might be the car to beat on a regular basis, even if he doesn’t get pole, and if LH can’t do it, his new teammate this year was also going to have a hard time doing that. Merc is not holding their usual dominant one-two’s so there is a new dynamic now in F1. But it is not VB’s fault. Even under LH, they have lost 2 out of 3 so far. If you’re saying FA would already be taking it to SV then I guess you’re saying he’s a ton better than LH, to be doing so after 3 races vs LH’s 5 seasons. If you’re says by FA would already be taking it to LH, same problem they’re having now…SV grabbing the big points in a better Sunday car.

  18. Completely agree with the cotd. Incorporate any gimmicks in a way that they complement a driver’s racecraft, that should be their lithmus test.

  19. no team in their right mind wants a honda engine, sauber have the best engine that the can afford already. It might help Honda to supply other teams but nobody wants their terrible engine, why would they?

    1. Yep, Given a choice, I would take an end of 2017 Ferrari engine over a 2018 Honda for next year. Sauber would be crazy to switch.

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