James Allison, Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Sochi Autodrom, 2018

Mercedes’ team orders was a “no brainer” – Vettel

2018 Russian Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel defended the use of team orders by rivals Mercedes in the Russian Grand Prix and criticised some of the questions the drivers were asked by journalists.

Lewis Hamilton won the race after Mercedes told Valtteri Bottas to let him by.

“Well done to both of them they played together as a team very well,” said Vettel in the post-race press conference.

“I think in their defence, all the questions, I know you guys love controversy and therefore ask some naughty questions to them as individuals but I think in the position they are in it’s a no-brainer what they did today so maybe not all the questions are justified.”

Vettel was responding to a question about whether his title hopes had slipped away after finishing third behind the pair.

“To be honest I go race by race,” he said. “I’m clever enough, I wasn’t a genius in maths, but was clever enough to pay attention to make it out myself that it’s not getting easier if we lose points.”

The Ferrari driver admitted he most likely needs Hamilton to suffer at least one retirement to have a realistic chance of beating him to the championship.

“I still believe in our chance, yes, obviously it’s not getting bigger if we finish behind.

“But who knows it takes one DNF and then all of a sudden things look different. Ideally two! Which I’m not wishing to Lewis [but] you never know what happens.

“So we need to stay on top of our game which maybe we haven’t been completely this weekend, make sure that from where we are now we focus on winning the last races.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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53 comments on “Mercedes’ team orders was a “no brainer” – Vettel”

  1. “Sebastian, Charles is faster than you” , 2019

  2. Just like Kimi has been made a scapegoat for the golden boy so many times this already and still managed to screw the chances.

    1. Like today?! RAI couldn’t even really keep up with the top3 in the 1st stint. Some still wonder why he doesn’t get the best strategy etc etc…. Better stop posting BS, RAI is of no use for his own good, giving VET a real helping hand is just another Ferrari-related myth. Austria was a good moment where to give VET a helping hand, you can never know when 2-3 points might decide the title. The whole year BOT did a much better job than RAI as a no.2, today was the culmination.

      1. Not today earlier in the season, Kimi’s strategy was compromised so that Vettel could score more points or take wins.

  3. Fair play by Vettel. I’m not a fan of the immediate post-race interviews, they’re kind of abusive after an hour and a half of intense racing, emotions raw, no time for drivers to compose their thoughts. The teams should get them stopped.

    1. @david-br

      Strongly agree. It looks so unprofessional. Di resta chasing Hamilton around when he clearly was in no mood. I’m guessing he just wanted to speak to Bottas in private.

      I’ve mentioned this before. If say a driver was comfortably leading a race then had issues right at the end allowing 2 cars to get past and they end up finishing 3rd. They are not going to be in to mood for the media asking them stupid questions the second they get out of the car. What is the purpose of this “cool down” room if they have to do something they clearly don’t want to right after they get out the car. Give them a break. Speaking to them on the podium was so much nicer. The drivers had time to cool off before the podium, celebrate then were in a better mood for speaking. So many things about the way the way these things are done this year are just so much worse than they used to be.

    2. Agreed, drop the immediate out-of-the-car interviews, they make no sensor, fans can wait 10 minutes to have the interviews on the podium

      1. I disagree. Many series do the interviews as soon as possible. I see nothing wrong with it and I’d rather hear the heat of the moment stuff than just the same calm, cool, and collected pc stuff we hear so much of already. The drivers know to expect it, and they do have several minutes after the race and before they are out of the car and being interviewed. They’re paid millions upon millions to do what they love, and I don’t think it is any big hardship for them to be interviewed right out of the car. It’s when the fans heat of the moment is still on too. Why dull that with some sterilized pause to wait until the drivers are ready to grace us with watered down commentary?


  4. I don’t like team orders, but then again thanks to it I got the top 5 right

    1. Me too! Screwed up the pole though, and 8 people got that right as well as the top 5 :-(

      1. Damn it!

  5. Not sure about it being a no-brainer. 40-odd point lead, comfortable 1-2 with your nearest rival’s car clearly slower? Sure from Mercedes’ perspective it’d be better for Hamilton to finish 1st with Bottas 2nd, but he’d still have extended his points lead, still got a 1-2 and the constructors points would be the same. All this achieved was taking a comfortable win from Bottas on a day when he had the best of Hamilton. I’d say it was more unnecessary than a no-brainer.

    1. Fans are a bit naive if they can’t see why this is the move that had to be made. You take the maximum in the drivers championship AND the constructor’s championship. Lewis can always repay the favor to Bottas later this year IF or when the drivers championship is locked up, giving up 1st place and giving the victory to Bottas on that day the win he deserved today….until then, there is no debate. You give the driver fighting for the championship the maximum advantage, and the best chance of winning the championship.

      Mercedes and educated race fans know very well how quickly the points can change with just one failure. The additional seven point cushion from 43 to 50 at this time of year is massive. Experience knows that.

      1. the ‘championship’ is over. this was entirely unnecessary and unsporting. i wonder if you would take a bet that lewis will win by less than 7…

        1. @me the championship is not over until lewis is crowned champion then its over until then vettel still has a chance might be a slim chance but still a chance non the less. mercedes were 100% correct in their decision today to swap places. they saw the bigger picture and weren’t willing to risk it.

        2. ie plastic fans who started watching f1 last year

        3. I doubt you’re much of a fan of F1, or any other motorsport, if you think the championship is “over”. Lewis has a 50 point lead with 125 points still on offer. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do the math. Mercedes could suffer reliability issues, someone could run into Lewis, etc. etc. Anything could potentially tighten the championship right back up. The educated take the maximum points. The dummies think things are “over” when they obviously are not. That’s life. That’s why Toto is in a position to make those decisions, and the rest of us are debating it futilely in chat boards.

      2. Lewis and Fernando both literally lost the 2007 Championship by 1 point, even tho a 4 or 5 races before that it looked like the championship was “over” they thought the same as well and kept fighting each other tooth and nail to the bitter end only for them both to ultimately LOSE, it’s never “over” not until the flag drops at the last race. Oh yea, ask Massa’s family what it’s like to think the championship is “over” only to have it slip away on the last corner of the last lap of the last race, some of these guys just hate Lewis so they pretend to not understand why Mercedes did what they did

        1. Thank you for a most sensible comment – honestly cannot believe the controversy surrounding this.

          Those who watched F1 long enough would remember everyone was crowning Lewis as champ in 2007 (including myself) – he was 12 points ahead of Fernando and 17 points ahead of Kimi with 2 rounds to go (approx 29 and 43 points behind by today’s scoring) and yet lost! Oh and Massa let Kimi win Brazil 2007.

          Mercedes had a few howlers too at the start of the season. Hamilton has had crucial retirements also in the past (2016 Malaysia engine blow-up anyone?). Cannot fathom how silly Merc would feel if Hamilton ended up losing the title by a whisker by not letting this happen.

  6. People still bring up Austria 2002 to this day to discredit Schumacher and Ferrari’s achievements.

    Today was worse than that.

    In 2002, it was mid-May, Montoya was 21 points behind Schumacher, Barrichello effectively out of contention 38 points behind Schumacher and routinely beaten.

    Today, late in the season, Hamilton had a 40 point lead going into the race, $1.10 favourite for the championship pre race, in the clear best car, Vettel behind Hamilton on track, yet Mercedes still order Bottas to move over to hand Hammy the win.

    At least I never have to hear Austria 2002 brought up ever again in my life.

    Mercedes had far less justification for moving Bottas over today than Ferrari had for moving Barrichello over in 2002.

    1. In 2002, a win was worth 10 points. If Montoya was 21 points behind Schumacher, as you claim, assuming he needed DNFs to catch the leader, then he was a full two wins and a point behind Schumacher.
      Before today’s race, assuming vettel also needed DNFs to catch the leader, he needed just one DNF and 15 points.
      Schumacher thus had a bigger buffer than Hamilton had today. In fact, even after the Russia win, Hamilton still needs a point, with vettel not scoring, to have the same buffer as Schumacher in 2002.
      The “1.10 favourite” stuff you’re posting all over the site is meaningless and therefore irrelevant.
      And Austria 2002 was a repeat of the team orders, as ferrari had done exactly the same thing the previous year, with circumstances not quite identical, which debunks the motion that ferrari somehow had more justification than Mercedes did in Russia.
      And so, every time someone starts moaning about Russia 2018, there’s always Austria 2002. Or Austria 2001. Team orders are part of the sport, they’re perfectly legal, they’ve always been used even when illegal and especially by ferrari (“Alonso is faster than you”), and the hypocrisy of ferrari fans moaning about Hamilton being a beneficiary of team orders, when every ferrari number one driver has benefited from team orders since the Schumacher days, is absolute claptrap.

      1. Epic retort and shutdown to the spurious points @anon was making. But if you are a regular reader his agenda is well established. Great stuff though, +1

      2. +1 Ferrari fans whinging about team orders are hilariously shameless.

      3. Funny you forgot about the reliability factor….! Back in the day the cars were a lot less reliable than today, that was 1 of the main reasons they had to take every opportunity. Do not think it’s the case today, these cars are bulletproof compared to 2002 cars. Plus, you know the facts so well, yet you forget that Barrichello got his win back from Schumacher. We shall see if that happens with HAM. Not until today. So, better present all stuff or not at all.

        1. YellowSubmarine
          1st October 2018, 0:46

          It’s precisely because of that reliability business that the Mercedes call was such a no-brainer: every driver has had a DNF this season, with both Hamilton and Bottas suffering reliability-related retirements at the Austrian Grand Prix (Bottas had a gearbox failure, Hamilton had a fuel pressure problem).

          And no, the cars today are not “bulletproof compared to 2002 cars”: Schumacher did not have a single retirement in 2002.

          With this in mind, it makes perfect sense to maximise whatever WDC and Constructors’ championship points one can get, and that’s exactly what Mercedes did today. Hamilton has since said he’s happy to “hand” a win to Bottas in return, and we know that he has handed back a pass to Bottas before, so this is no idle claim.

          So let’s cut out all the fiction and the fake outrage and take off the blinkers: Team Orders have always happened and always will, Hamilton was a beneficiary today (not the only one either), virtually every driver begs for team orders whenever the chance presents itself during a race, and that’s just how it is.
          Move on.

          1. Schumacher’s reliability in 2002 was unheard of at the time. Ferrari weren’t to know in May that Schumacher would have great reliability.

            Now it’s a given that cars will finish every race. You just have to recall the hysteria of Hammy having a single mechanical failure in 2016 to realise that cars just don’t fail like they used to.

            At least I never have to hear of Austria 2002 being brought up ever again because Russia 2018 was far worse because Hammy went into the race has a far greater mathematical certainty of winning the title than Schumacher did in May 2002.

          2. At least I never have to hear of Austria 2002 being brought up ever again because Russia 2018 was far worse because Hammy went into the race has a far greater mathematical certainty of winning the title than Schumacher did in May 2002

            Actually laughed out loud reading this post. Don’t think I have ever read something so out of touch

            Bottas is out of the championship hunt, Barrichello was not. But its ok for Barrichello to lose his win? Give it a rest mate.

      4. That’s a hard tackle, the GOAT of all replies😂😂😂

    2. Fans are a bit naive if they can’t see why this is the move that had to be made. You take the maximum in the drivers championship AND the constructor’s championship. Lewis can always repay the favor to Bottas later this year IF or when the drivers championship is locked up, giving up 1st place and giving the victory to Bottas on that day the win he deserved today….until then, there is no debate. You give the driver fighting for the championship the maximum advantage, and the best chance of winning the championship.

      Mercedes and educated race fans know very well how quickly the points can change with just one failure. The additional seven point cushion from 43 to 50 at this time of year is massive. Experience knows that.

      1. Very well said. One DNF can change so much so its important to maximize when there is opportunity this late in the season.

    3. José Lopes da Silva
      1st October 2018, 9:25

      Apart from other considerations about team orders, to consider that this was worst than Austria 2002 just doesn’t stick. Historically, team orders have always been more understandable latter in the season, when the number 2 has less or no chance of winning the championship. That’s clearly the case in October, rather than in mid-May.

      In mid-May you’re cutting the driver’s chances to the championship, which is not quite the case in October.

      The giving back of the win is not a great thing, anyway. USA-2002 is remembered as another crappy showdown. Even Japan-91, we can only consider it under Senna’s arguments that “Berger made pole position, led early in the race, destroyed his tires in order to get advantage over Mansell, etc”.

      1. It is far worse to use team orders late in the season when the championship has been virtually decided than in mid-May when anything can happen in the remaining 11 races. You just have to go back to Schumacher having back to back DNFs in mid-2000 to realise that Ferrari weren’t taking any chances.

        Barrichello was out of contention for the championship at Austria 2002. He had 6 points from 5 races.

        You’re talking as though Hammy was the one 40 points behind in the championship yesterday. He’s 40 points ahead and has the clear best car.

        1. @anon I will never agree with your comparison of yesterday’s race to Austria 02. There are some glaring differences you are failing to mention. MS had already been the team’s designated number one driver, by contract, for 6 years. It was only ever all about MS at Ferrari, from race one(s) of every season, as per the teams one-rooster philosophy as well as assistance by Max and Bernie starting with setting the whole MS/Ferrari phenomenon up.

          Don’t forget there are many subtleties as to how team orders are instigated, between ones that we never get to know about, through to the most blatant of all types, which was what happened in Austria 02 when, with metres to go, RB threw out the anchors and gave MS the win. Far far different from yesterday.

          It is exactly late in the season that should be the time when the math has come into play and the odds sorted and the teams put their emphasis on the driver with the WDC shot. That is the only time ideally that we should be seeing team orders…at a time when they are pretty much a no-brainer and are understandable.

          But the big big difference was when after the race Reubens said when asked why he did what he did, he answered that he thought he better obey his contract.

          Anyone who felt for VB yesterday, should have felt far far worse for RB in Austria, having been MS’s boot licker from each season’s beginning, and still not being thrown a bone, even when he dominated the weekend. Mind you he signed his contract eyes wide open.

          I’m not going to be any more bent out of shape over this than VB himself is, and he’s not, and he didn’t wait until metres to go to make a point. He took ‘one’ for the team, although some would say he had to give up a bit for LH earlier in the season too, just as KR did for SV, but giving up one for the team is a far far cry from what was going on with MS/Ferrari as exemplified in Austria 02.

        2. than in mid-May when anything can happen in the remaining 11 races

          Barrichello was out of contention for the championship at Austria 2002

          If you cant see the utter lunacy in your own comments no one can help you.

  7. Vettel is correct here. It is a no brainer to employ team orders at this stage of the season.

    Some people and media simply making big fuss about team order. This is the last part of a closely fought championship. Team orders are expected at both the leading teams and drivers. Even Force India employed some team orders.

    Bottas and Raikkoned are out of the championship. It makes sense to maximise the result for the leading drivers to win the Driver’s championship.

    And the way Lewis overtook Vettel, its shows Lewis had pace to even challenge Bottas without team order. It was not like a forgone conclusion that Bottas would win the race.

    1. You’re making far too much sense. Please stop.

    2. While I agree with you that team orders were fair in this scenario, I do not agree that a Bottas win wasn’t a forgone conclusion. It was.

      Overtaking Vettel in a slower car is different than overtaking Bottas in a similar car (while having a blister too). After all, Lewis couldn’t overtake Max later, could he?

      He was handed a win today due to team orders? Absolutely yes. Was it right? Absolutely yes once again.

      1. Lewis did not need to overtake Max. It was pointless of him if he tried, afterall Max still needed to pit.

        If it were for the 1st position then Lewis would have tried. Sitting back and protecting his tyres was paramount.

        Pls employ some sense.

  8. José Lopes da Silva
    30th September 2018, 18:49

    The top F1 drivers are at odds with the kind of ethics that F1 supporters expect from the Drivers Championship. Either they are able to persuade the public – this is, everybody starts to think like AMG44 – or, in the long run, this is another hole in the ship.

    Also, Vettel is pointing out at Ferrari again.

  9. Yeah podium was horrific.

    Hamilton cringing, Bottas biting his lip Alison a bit shaken… Happiest was Vettel who just lost the race..

    They did what they had to do. Nobody will be happy with it, but record books will record a victory for Hamilton, and years from now fans will have one less argument why Hamilton is GOT.

  10. As I told the Mercedes team on twitter after the race, this team order ruined a lot of the respect they had built up with me in the last couple of years where they really did their best to treat the drivers fairly and arrange strategies only when it really felt like it was needed.

    Today it only helped them get Hamilton an extra 7 points of 50 extra advantage over Vettel at a time when their car seems to be about equal with Ferrari’s, Vettel has been making far more mistakes and Hamilton would have eked out his lead anyway and seems to be on top of his game already. In return, they got a Hamilton feeling uncomfortable, Bottas feeling a mix of angry, upset and let down (especially after the way they didn’t even bring themselves to tell him their intent fairly, waiting for him to aks about it and then reffering to an after the race internal discussion).

    Bad day for the sport, bad day for the team.

    1. I’m sure that they’re heartbroken…

    2. Go support some other team then, maybe Mclaren.

    3. While we all saw that VB was disappointed, and that is understandable, at the same time he was also quite understanding the more he was past the heat of the moment, acknowledging that he is not in the WDC fight but LH is. I refuse to be more upset about this than the one person who should be the most upset, and who has already moved past it.

  11. There speaks a man who knows his own team would have done exactly the same thing…

    1. Except they haven’t. Maybe a dig at them?

  12. I sincerely hope Lewis DNFs the last few races because of these charades. It’s fair play by Mercedes but is also unsportsmanlike.

    1. At this point yes, would be karma back to mercedes if it comes bite them, since it was mainly them who decided on it, hamilton did pretty much like schumacher in 2002, didn’t disobey the team but also wasn’t happy to win that way, they both could have.

      1. I agree, it’s not so much Lewis’s fault as it is Mercedes.

    2. Fair play AND unsportsmanlike? That’s like saying it’s a bird but also a fish.

  13. Ferrari would do exactly the same thing if Kimi was anywhere near leading a race. Bar torpedoing Lewis at the first corner, there is not much Kimi can do to influence the championship at this point. Ferrari could be leading this as a team if they had two competent drivers.

    1. Of course, any sensible leader would have made the decision.

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