Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Monza, 2018

Mercedes want to delay using team orders “as far as possible”

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In the round-up: Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says he wants to hold off imposing team orders on his drivers as long as possible.

What they say

Lewis Hamilton is 97 points ahead of Valtteri Bottas with 175 available, which means Bottas could drop out of championship contention after the Russian Grand Prix in two races’ time.

I don’t really like team orders. They’re not cool and they’re not good for the sport and not good for either driver. Lewis doesn’t want anything gifted and Valtteri doesn’t want to give anything up. We are taking it race-to-race.

We discussed various scenarios [pre-race at Monza] and there was no necessity. We’ll see what happens in Singapore. I want to push that moment [when to enforce team orders] as far back as possible.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

McLaren recommending Stoffel Vandoorne to rival teams begs an obvious question…

If he were that good, then why were McLaren so eager to let him go in the first place?

I think Vandoorne is good, but certainly in his two years in Woking, he failed to fully apply himself. I don’t think anyone in their right mind was expecting podiums/wins from Stoffel; but definitely that he matched the pace and results Alonso produced, and more often than not bettered them — something he was not able to do.

The sensible thing for McLaren to have done was to put Esteban Ocon alongside Sainz, where in my opinion, the Spaniard is on a similar level as Vandoorne in terms of speed.

Lando Norris may just be the next great discovery of his generation (after Max Verstappen), but given his latest performances in F2 I just can’t see him being ready for F1 yet. But then again, Fernando Alonso wasn’t even a contender in F2 (F3000) during his stint there in 2000, only for him to work wonders when he got his shot in F1 in an outdated/underdeveloped Minardi in 2001. The rest, as they say, is history.
@Rafael-o

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  • 40 years ago today Mario Andretti won the world championship but his team mate Ronnie Peterson was badly injured in a first-lap crash, which claimed his life the following day

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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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  • 45 comments on “Mercedes want to delay using team orders “as far as possible””

    1. Not sure if it’s a placebo, but the site does feel snappier to load. How many tenths did you gain with the latest upgrades, Keith? 🙂

      1. haha, noticed it too. I hope its stops prompting me to sign-in every other day too.

        1. I hope its stops prompting me to sign-in every other day too.

          so that wasn’t just me, @lums.

          PS the bit that I hope for is a bit more space on the mobile app when replying. When writing a comment on my mobile I cannot see my own comment as I type.
          That and autocorrect makes for cryptic comments.

    2. Mercedes has already been using team orders for at least 4-5 races. ;-)

      1. @hadzhiev Only in Monza and Germany. Ferrari did messed up Kimi’s chances from race one in Australia.

        1. @noname Only where it was needed. ;-)

        2. We discussed various scenarios [pre-race at Monza] and there was no necessity.

          so they did it without necessity ;)

    3. The man deserves a place a the Minitrue

    4. COTD: Because they signed Sainz to keep Alonso happy, and they signed Norris to keep Zac happy? Sainz is good, in a good car, but what will he do in a bad one? His fight with Hulkenberg seems a bit one sided too. Norris seems to be fast, but will he be consistent? By replacing both drivers, they make sure that there is no possible comparison between this and next year.
      If Stoffel didn’t fully apply himself, you need to remember the reasons too:
      2017 winter tests were… no tests at all, great for a rookie
      2017 race weekends: instructed to complete as much races as possible. Keep the revs between this and that, because the engine will go BOOM if you don’t. Meanwhile lift and coast as much as possible or you’ll run out of fuel. His teammate was racing for 60% of the race, and DNF followed when he ran out of fuel.
      Car setup copy-paste form Alonso, because: “You know nothing, Stoffel”
      At the end of 2017, when the engine started to get fixed a bit, and the car-setup matched more to what Stoffel liked, he closed the gap to Alonso a bit.
      2018 winter tests: Oh dear, we’re a bit slow and have cooling issues in the cold
      2018 race weekends: OK we’ve updated the aero, but Stoffel, don’t take risks, we have no spare parts! A bit later: Fernando, for your car we’ve got a few updates, the N°2 will get them a few races later. In at least two races, the pit crew was asleep when Stoffel came by the pit entrance. Elsewhere they postponed the stop to help fend of attacks from the rear on Alo. And by the way, can you please give Alonso a tow around the qualifying lap? We’ll thank you by completing your chassis with paper instead of carbon. Halfway through the 2018 season: “Hey Stoffel, We know nothing, too! Well, other than that you’ll probably be replaced next year.”
      Let me ask you this:
      – Would anyone not be slow compared to an Alonso, who leaves close to nothing on the table, with a clear N°1 status, experience and ruthless as a kamikaze? Whenever Alo ended up behind Stoffel in a race, and outside of the points, he chose to DNF to keep it from the books.
      – How many races did Stoffel really screw up? How many crashes? Is it a dirty driver?
      McLaren should fix the things that aren’t working, but instead they replace the things that don’t need to be fixed.

      1. Mclaren have proven to be fairly clueless when it comes to drivers in recent years. They got rid of Magnussen after one season, and he’s now leading F1 class 2. They got rid of Perez, who is leading a team mate many believe to be a champion in waiting. I think if you ever wanted an example of why instant gratification doesn’t work, simply look at Mclaren.

        1. @James Wrong, Hulkenberg’s still leading the so-called ‘class 2’ or ‘class B.’

          1. You’re right, forgive my ignorance. Although my original point remains the same, I feel McLaren expect far too much from rookies and consequently teams further down the field benefit when these drivers inevitably flourish in a more relaxed environment.

        2. Better for those drivers since they moved on to better teams!

    5. In other news:
      F2 racer Ferrucci has moved to MotoGP2 (https://www.bbc.com/sport/motorsport/45467475)

      And didn’t Mick Schumacher just do a hat-trick in F3; up to second in the championship?

      1. Disgraceful behaviour in Moto2, a two race ban is very lenient but surely he has damaged his reputation beyond repair

    6. “Sometimes people react this way. If they cannot beat you on the track, they try to beat you in court. That is what seems to be happening.”
      – If you break the rules, then you should pay the price for it.

      “I have faith that Renault is going to finally make an engine at the level of Mercedes and Ferrari.”
      – I doubt it.

      Interesting COTD. I agree with it in principle.

      1. Yep sorry Haas but you were given two races to sort it like everyone else as far as I understand it.

        1. I agree. It’s unfortunate, but I’m sure if it was a team like Red Bull or Mercedes that had made this mistake then someone, maybe even Haas, would have appealed to the Stewards to improve their point tally. Maybe Haas were lead to believe they had an exemption for that race, but they didn’t have it in writing.

    7. “I wouldn’t expect it, but sometimes people react this way. If they cannot beat you on the track, they try to beat you in court. That is what seems to be happening.”

      Gene Haas is as hypocritical as it gets. Haas is the only team trying to oppose Force India getting the column 1 payment because they are now classified as a new team – RPFI. Heck, the team went through administration and nearly shut down… the situation was pretty dire at Force India, and Haas is trying to block their payments to gain an advantage. In short Haas is trying to beat them in the courts instead of just beating them on track. Then he has the audacity to accuse Renault of the same tactic after he ran a floor that was deemed illegal by the FIA.

      You have to work hard to be envied

      What a joke. Haas is a glorified outsourcing unit in F1. Ferrari and Dallara put in the hard work.

      1. @todfod While I do agree that it is ridiculous to moan about a disqualification resulting from Renault lodging a complaint, when their floor was clearly illegal, I’m not sure it is hypocritical wrt the FI thing.

        That’s a different sort of matter, and while it may have a side effect of affecting FI’s future performance, Haas main point on that is that as a new team they had to go without prize money for their first two years so why shouldn’t FI? I think it is more the principal of it for Haas, than an actual attempt to harm their performance. Oh perhaps Haas is thinking this will hold them back too, but I find it hard to imagine that the takeover of FI by the Stroll group hinges on that prize money. If it did they would have had to ensure a guarantee their prize money would be retained. That they went ahead with the deal first leads me to believe they had to expect it might be a possibility that they would have to forgo said moneys but are prepared to deal with that.

        Also, from what I understood reading about this, Haas has been as much just holding out for more explanations from F1 as to why FI might get to retain the prize money, and are not so much taking F1 to court over it, at this stage. They may sign off on the prize money thing yet.

        Personally I think they (FI) should be allowed to retain the prize money as they are not a brand new team in the same way as other brand new entrants are. A name change is technically an indication of a legally new team, but common sense tells me they are not, in so many other ways, and F1 should have a lot of gratitude that the Stroll group has keep the grid from falling to 18 cars and helped save F1 from a lot of questions and embarrassment arising from them losing a team at a time when they are trying to pump F1 up. For me the spirit of the thing is that FI has been running every race this season just as they have been for years, and so a name change is merely an understandable necessity under the circumstances, but the world knows nothing has actually changed on the grid. And…there’s a federal court of law that might seem a name change means everything, but then there is also the FOM and FIA lawbook that will prevail first, and that imho does leave room for common sense and a ruling in FI’s favour. Depends how much ‘real law’ will be allowed to intervene I suppose.

        1. @robbie

          I think it is more the principal of it for Haas, than an actual attempt to harm their performance. Oh perhaps Haas is thinking this will hold them back too, but I find it hard to imagine that the takeover of FI by the Stroll group hinges on that prize money.

          Does the principal really concern them currently? They’ll be getting paid column 1 anyways. While I don’t think FI’s performances will be extremely dependant on the prize money, it will definitely affect their investment for the next 2 seasons, and consequently, affect their on track performance. Haas is playing for an advantage off the track… there’s no doubt about that.

          Personally I think they (FI) should be allowed to retain the prize money as they are not a brand new team in the same way as other brand new entrants are. A name change is technically an indication of a legally new team, but common sense tells me they are not

          Completely agree with you. Which is why I’m thinking other midfield teams such as Williams, McLaren, Renault, Toro Rosso , etc. have just cut Force India some slack. All of them could benefit with a less competitive Force India on the grid, but it seems that there is a tiny degree of sportsmanship and camaraderie between teams in the sport. Something that Haas seems to lack if you ask me.

          It’s quite a disgusting move on his part… which is why I found his “settle it in courts instead of on track” statement hypocritical.

    8. What kind of pararrel univerve these people for Mercedes live in? Or are they flashed with the men in black light after every GP?

      They’ve been using team orders for while now, don’t have to delay anything. Or are they talking about how long they can go without them every weekend?

      1. From a neutral point of view, I don’t mind the team orders to swap places between drivers of the same team… Telling a driver to run a completely awkward tire strategy just to slowdown a competitor and benefit your other driver annoys me a little bit… Having a driver from a “satellite” (or “partner”) team let your driver go easily or slow down your competitors even under blue flags, this gets me a little upset.

        But what really grind my gears is these team bosses lying about team orders and pretending everything is normal! It offends me that they think the audience is so stupid to not notice and understand team orders are happening from race 1.

        I’ll mention Mercedes because of the quote, but obviously Ferrari has done the same… If what Mercedes did so far was not “using team orders”, what will happen when they do? Bottas will park the car sideways and cause safety cars? He will run Vettel over on T1 L1? He will park his car on Ferrari’s pit stall so they can’t change tires? What are these team orders that Mercedes aren’t using yet?

    9. Loved the piece on liuzzi and I agree he didn’t have the career his talent warranted, it was perhaps the time spent alongside sutil, where sutil matched him than downplayed his potential as sutil In many people’s eyes was only “average”

    10. Toto Wolff says he wants to hold off imposing team orders on his drivers as long as possible.

      Until the first pitstop, then ?

    11. What a load of bull. Valteri is reduced to a wingman for few races now.

      His job is to distract, disable Ferrari strategy and help Lewis go for the win.

      Monza was a clear example of that.

      If anything Ferrari need to do the same ASAP.

      1. What a load of bull. Valteri is reduced to a wingman for few races now.
        His job is to distract, disable Ferrari strategy and help Lewis go for the win.
        Monza was a clear example of that.

        great comment, @jureo

        If anything Ferrari need to do the same ASAP.

        and great sarcasm :P

      2. @jureo

        If anything Ferrari need to do the same ASAP.

        Ferrari started using Kimi as a pawn in race 3 of this season (China).

        1. If anything Ferrari need to do the same ASAP.

          Raikkonen is hardly in a position to take points from Hamilton.

          1. Yeah nowhere near useful as Bottas.

    12. Renault engine will match Mercedes or Ferrari engines… hahahahahahahaha!

      1. Man.. I seriously doubt it as well. I think if they can match Ferrari/Mercedes on the drivability and reliability front, while making a small gain in peak power, I would call it a job well done.

        1. @todfod – I’d like to see Renault have the same reliability, better drivability and slightly worse peak power – that should make for some interesting battles dependent on the flow of the circuit.

          1. @phylyp

            Yeah.. That would be interesting. Even if they got back their fuel saving advantage that they had in the Red bull era, it could be interesting.

      2. Matching performance is not really the issue, it is the reliability aspect of the engine that is causing issues… everytime they turn up something, smokes follow up soon after…

    13. Mercedes want to delay using team orders as long as possible? Right, well I can understand them wanting to say that and given they have control of both championships it makes sense to say.

      But… they’ve been using team orders for a while? Though perhaps ‘orders’ is too harsh a word. Team firm requests, or team unspoken expectations.

      It seems really strange that when Mercedes say this kind of thing people are all for it, the use of Bottas as a wingman and the need to use team orders to ensure a victory but if Ferrari are mentioned of doing the same thing then its the end of the world and disrespectful. Clearly both do it and its fair game, so I don’t get why Toto would sit there saying they’ll put it off as long as they can when they’ve been doing it for ages.

      1. Ferrari are doing it disgracefully for a while now… they started nearly from day one! Only thing is they are not clearly saying the word to Kimi, but Kimi knows very well… Iceman shaming them by forcing them to say the word live… They keep burning Kimi and using him as a pawn from day one… but they say they are allowing their drivers to race… pfft…

    14. Only the German gp one could say they stopped Bottas from racing, but that was understandable, they had just being gifted 1st and 2nd position against the run off form, and it was going to be risky allowing both drivers to race. Monza however, Bottas just put himself in a situation were he could be used as a strategic tool.

    15. Has anyone else been having trouble with the privacy notice that had appeared on the site? I’m assuming it’s a one click thing to get rid of but on my work pc (which is what I check the site on mostly) I can’t get the notice to go away as the “continue to site” button isn’t working. This is on IE11 on a PC running some version of windows.

      @keithcollantine

      1. Do your work PCs have a modern browser? Chrome, Firefox or Edge? IE11 is several years out of date, and is only included with Windows for backward compatibility (e.g. corporate sites)

        1. No, IT is controlled centrally so i cant update the browser or install a newer browser.

          Shame really, I’ve been reading racefans for years and I now have no way to do it at work, so wont be visiting as much from now on.

    16. They certainly delayed ordering Bottas to pit by quite some time…

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