Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Sochi, 2018

Brawn defends ‘unattractive’ Mercedes team orders

2018 Russian Grand Prix

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Formula 1 motorsport director and former Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn has defended the team’s decision to tell Valtteri Bottas to hand victory in Sunday’s race to his team mate.

Lewis Hamilton scored his eighth victory of 2018 when Bottas, who is yet to win this year, let him past on the 25th lap of the Russian Grand Prix.

“I reckon the German team’s decision was the right one,” wrote Brawn in a media release from Formula One Management. “The primary aim for a team is to get the best possible result for both championships and that’s what they did.”

Brawn imposed team orders on several occasions during his F1 career, including while he and Hamilton were together at Mercedes in 2013, when Nico Rosberg was instructed not to overtake his team mate during the Malaysian Grand Prix.

“I have found myself in this situation many times in the past,” said Brawn. “Personally, I always believed the collective interest of the team comes before that of an individual driver.”

Large numbers of fans criticised the change of positions, which Brawn acknowledged.

“In may not be easily accepted by the fans, nor look good for the sport, and that is where the team have to judge the circumstances and make their decision.

“I can understand Bottas’s frustration, as he had a great weekend, demonstrating how well the Sochi track suits him, but team-orders are part of the sport. Also, it’s always better to apply them in a transparent manner, rather than trying to hide it, something we have seen sometimes in the past, which raised accusations of deception.

“It’s not the most attractive aspect of our sport, but it’s always been a part of it, good or bad, and it is better to have it in the open.”

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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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50 comments on “Brawn defends ‘unattractive’ Mercedes team orders”

  1. F1 is all about racing,
    F1 is a race car,
    A race car need a racer,
    A racer race to win the race,
    A racer wants to win every races,
    A real winner racer will never like to give way or chances for his/her opponent to win the race, even their own teamate! If did so, better dont call it racing!
    Team order bad!

    1. F1 is not just about racing, a racecar or racers.

      F1 sells the idea of purist racing and excitement while in reality each team is made up of 100s of people and all teams compete to win a team sport.

    2. You missed ‘F1 is a business’, for better or for worse.

    3. F1 is a team sport. Even though they don’t get money for WDC, they do get advertising exposure and sponsors for the WDC, so it’s worth beating Vettel.

  2. “Personally, I always believed the collective interest of the team comes before that of an individual driver.”

    I mean, it’s done and I personally don’t really care about Bottas but the whole statement he gives makes no real sense to me. If they had asked Hamilton, or if Hamilton had decided by himself, to give Bottas back his place on the last lap when everything was sorted out then nothing would have changed for that “collective interest of the team”.
    Vettel was 5 secs behind Bottas in the end, it would have been easy to switch without losing the two positions and come home with the same amount of points for the team…

    1. @tryneplague
      That would have jeopardized the WDC for Mercedes. The WDC is important. The order was important.

    2. @tryneplague

      “…best possible result for _both_ championships…”

      that’s the key here.

      Same result for contructors championship whichever order the driver finish.
      Better result for drivers championship if Lewis finishes in front.

      1. But I agree in general, I’d rather have seen Lewis give the place back when safe to do so.

        I’m a Lewis fan (on track only… not so much for his fashion or other interests) and I feel it cheapens the result slightly if he does win his 5th WDC this year.

        1. Of course they could simply have raced each other, possibly taking each other out, possibly destroying their tires in the process. At least we would then know who was the better drive. same power units one v one. Ala Hamilton vs Vettel.

          I wonder what the results would have looked like if Bottas was pressed by Hamilton. I guess we wait now for the start of next season. …

  3. This is the guy who in Hammy’s second race for Mercedes issued a team order forbidding Rosberg from passing the number 1 driver despite being significantly faster.

    What else can he say. The fix was in from Hammy’s second race at Mercedes.

    One of the saddest days in the history of F1 on Sunday (in the sporting sense).

    I might as well watch professional wrestling.

    1. Or you could watch another team sport.

      I’m always amazed by peoples disappointment with team orders.

      Teams take every advantage available to them in winning both championships, I like that, it means that the sport has depth and is more nuanced.

      If you want purist racing watch track and field (ignoring the pacemakers)

    2. This is the guy who in Hammy’s second race for Mercedes issued a team order forbidding Rosberg from passing the number 1 driver despite being significantly faster.

      Oh anon, it really does seem you cannot make it through one comment without messing up. Maybe you just shouldn’t bother anymore? :)

      Conveniently forgetting that the “significantly faster” (haha yeah) Rosberg was so “fast” he was completely unable to overtake Hamilton on his own. He tried for lap after lap and failed. Then he asked for team orders to move Hamilton out of the way for him. Asked for team orders! Left that part out didn’t you ;)

      Also conveniently forget the part where Rosberg was only faster because Hamilton had been asked to back off by Mercedes and Rosberg was ignoring the same request.

      Funny how the facts change the meaning of every post you make :)

      One of the saddest days in the history of F1 on Sunday (in the sporting sense)

      Please, cry us a river.

      1. Well said!

      2. anon seems to be full of facts and history but only presents the bits that support his ‘anti-everything’ opinions… and seems to be on track to becoming an adolescent internet bore…
        Sad utilisation of resources… ;)

        1. Anon is a mickey mouse of a joke. He cant be real as he is too negative and hateful

      3. This post is of course from “fake” ANON not knowledgeable ANON.

    3. You joke, but I love both Formula One and professional wrestling. I see both as a form of ‘sports entertainment’ (a genre which WWE coined to avoid paying extortionate sporting fees in the 80’s).

      Sure, the professional wrestling is outright pre-determined, but both F1 and pro wrestling are balancing elements of sport with elements of a show.

      1. Isn’t it all just entertainment anyway? Are we not entertained by all our sporting events that we watch of all kinds globally? To me sports events are shows that entertain us.

    4. I used to think you were just a bitter ‘anti-Hamilton’ guy, but I’ve now concluded you’re just winding everyone up. And doing an exceptional job, I must say.

  4. Curiously with this win Hamilton has the same amount of points as last year around this time of the season and Vettel has nine more, despite the first having a slightly better season and the latter a considerably worse.

  5. I don’t like it, but I get it.

    The whole sad exercise will probably have been unnecessary anyway, Ferrari and Vettel’s challenge seems to be coming apart since the death of Marchionne.

    When Hamilton retires after winning about 100 Grands Prix, no one will remember this, except Bottas. Nevertheless, they should have let Valterri retake the position and held off on their micromanagement until and unless it really became necessary.

    1. But it was, and is, necessary. Hamilton is now 50 points ahead in the WDC, with 5 races to go. That’s just two DNFs. So it’s smart to get as many points as possible because you never know what can happen. If you ran an F1 team, and you were totally responsible for winning both championships, you’d have done exactly what Toto did.

      1. “you never know what can happen”

        We do know though, don’t we? Lewis will win, by more than 7 points. It is the most forgone of conclusions, along with every championship under these PU regs.

        1. Exactly, it’s really quite obvious at this point, and ferrari is not even the fastest car any more, both in singapore and this race they weren’t even at red bull’s race pace!

  6. I think that Mercedes instructed Bottas to let Hamilton past was the right move, Vettel was closing in on Hamilton, and there was of course a risk Vettel might go for a risky pass and take Hamilton out.
    But I think they should have swapped them back. Firstly as Bottas deserved the win and already protecting Hamilton was enough. Secondly because it looks unlikely those points will be important at the end of the season and it hasn’t exactly been great publicity for Mercedes.

    1. @tricky

      You’ve summed up my position.

      The primary business consideration is advertising for Mercedes. The gain of 7 points wasn’t worth the bad press. Or bad feelings from Bottom fans.
      Mercedes have done a lot to earn my respect with F1 especially on an subconscious
      emotional level, and this doesn’t help.

      I’m also skeptical 7 points was worth the team friction. Maybe in a closer title fight.

      Mario Andretti said once he didn’t think any driver should be forced to give up a victory. I agree, especially in this case where the points are so unlikely to be needed .

    2. 1. “All publicity is good publicity.”
      2. I would suggest that more than 90% of Merc. customs will never hear about this saga and will continue to buy – for other reasons. How many Merc. and Jaguar customers were put off by Le Mans ’55…?

    3. Can’t see how that would ever work. If Hamilton had been presented with that scenario, it would have meant he would give up any chance of winning with more than half the race still to go. I think he would rather take his chances and take Bottas on, than have to settle for 2nd well before the halfway mark.

    4. You’re assuming that Mercedes and Lewis remain the team to beat. Merc knows more and maybe an power unit change is imminent for Lewis so they are proactive on maximizing points to minimize its effect. We will know in time.

      1. It could be true for all.. both ham and vettel on last pu and have to 8 races in total on them i think? But no guarantee either will last… also we know merc spec a lasted 8 races… if in the next two races ham bags 25 points or more from vettel, last three races wont matter and can let valteri win them all…

  7. It’d be hypocrite from Brawn if he said anything else given his personal record but I can’t say I’m happy that a representative of the commercial holder says giving up a win is a good thing. The best driver should win, regardless of the championship implications. I understand Mercedes but I don’t agree with it.

  8. Not impressed by Hamilton feeling bad for VB. He should have let him by to take the win. Team orders or not, what is going to happen to Hamilton besides a slap on the wrist. Just think about all the positive publicity versus this joke for only 7 points.

    1. In the next 5 races, if Lewis has two DNFs, which can easily happen, and ultimately loses the WDC to Vettel by 1 point, he’ll be really upset he didn’t bag those 7 points in Russia. Winners leave emotion out of their thinking, only logic matters.

    2. Put yourself in the Toto’s position. You’ve seen your #1 driver almost taken out by his rival making a double change of direction entering a corner. LH gets past SV shortly afterwards and you relax for awhile. Then the message flashes up for no further action on the illegal move. This says either the cynical meaning of FIA as assistance for Ferrari is coming into play, or they want to preserve the show for as long as possible to pull in the crowds. You choose, Toto had to make a decision.

      3 laps later he had made up his mind, winning the WDC is necessary, do everything possible to ensure that happens, because the FIA have a vested interest in prolonging the ‘show’.

      That’s why LH didn’t let VB back past, because he understood having been part of the double move incident. VB didn’t know that had taken place until after the race, hence he said he didn’t understand at the time in the Lee Mckenzie post race interview.

      Fanciful? Well no-one in M-B mentioned the possibility of the near miss being an illegal move after the race, just some BS about tyre blistering that no-one else, not even LH spotted, quote, ‘my car was perfect’. MB simply got on with the job on the understanding that such strange stewards decisions might impact the championship in future, so make headway now in whatever way is legal.

      If the show was harmed, it was the stewards decision that triggered it.

      1. Love your comment, besides the decision was a “no-brainer.”

      2. @frasier Still not buying what your imagination has you trying to sell. Surely you can’t possibly think SV did something so severe and penalty-worthy that a non-penalty carries such draconian political fallout causing dramatic reaction by Toto and some sudden paranoia of FIA assisting Ferrari. What, like TW got a wake up call from the stewards’ non-call? The one the commentators brushed off pretty quickly too. Please.

        You didn’t hear anything of any substance about it after the race, because it was a non-story. Oh I heard Seb speak on it, but really, @frasier you’re really reaching for something here, and it’s all thin air. Try writing for tabloids.

    3. There’s something that everyone has missed and it’s apparent that Merc had instructed their drivers not to race each other. Lewis made little effort to actually pass Bottas as a matter of fact he even ask if Bottas can go faster or speed up to avoid Seb passing him. That pre-race arrangement may well be what triggered the team orders as it was the only risk-free way of ensuring both championships. Bottas was not the best driver until Lewis’ mistakes in Q3, it was looking like an all-Lewis weekend in Sochi.

    4. If he’d done that he’d have undermined the whole senior leadership of the team, and given off the impression that he’s ‘above’ them and can do as he likes… which I think would be even worse for team morale and cohesion than the team orders were.

  9. In the last race of 2016 in Abu Dhabi 2014, Hamilton did everything to make Rosberg lose 2nd place in spite of the instructions he got from the pits to increase speed because he was putting Rosberg under an unecessary pressure from behind. In doing so he was trying to, against team orders, change a Mercedes 1-2 to a 1-3 or worse. He was, in fact, racing against his team. So much about team spirit, we win and lose toghether and all that… But that’s ok because later Mercedes came out to defend Hamilton’s attitude. Well, I suppose that when you pay a driver the millions Mercedes pays Hamilton you better say he’s right. As far as I am concerned, Hamilton’s behavior that day was a disgrace and although I think, as probably the majority of people, that he was better than Rosberg, no way will I ever have any respect for him, after that. As far as Mercedes is concerned, I had lost all respect after SPA, when they openly criticized Rosberg for the collision against Hamilton. That day marked the beginning of the Mercedes/Hamilton fair or not domination in F1. They are ok for each other.

    1. I should imagine that was one of the reasons Rosberg decided to retire – he knew Mercedes were always going to back Hamilton over him.

      1. Here’s the thing.

        Mercedes has a chance to make history, they have a chance to be remembered for this moment in F1 history, for not only their consecutive run of success, but also for a particular driver’s run of sucess.

        Think Micheal schumacher and how he will be remembered, you’re thinking driver and then as a fan, the team that surrounded him, and then as a hard core fan, the designers and engineers who made that happen.

        This how history works, first there is that name that everyone recalls, and then through that name there are all the rest who made that memory happen.

        If you were Mercedes now, would you strive for anything less than Hamilton History making success?

        1. Utter drivel

    2. @jmsmsm I still find it bizarre that anyone would take issue from Hamilton backing Rosberg into Vettel’s path. The funniest thing was Vettel’s “err, and help you win another title Lewis? No thanks, I’m fine here!” Any slower and Rosberg would be past Hamilton anyway, it was never going to work. But full marks for creative effort.

      1. @david-br yes, in backing Rosberg into Vettel no rules were broken and a brilliant display of thinking driving. Of course Vettel is a thinking driver too, and he was watching Lewis creep up on his tally of titles, no way would he help that to happen.

        Also having Rosberg as the reigning WDC might have spiked Lewis’s progress a bit. Unfortunately for Hamilton’s rivals Rosberg threw in the towel, probably realising he had lucked in for that title win and it was unlikely to happen again.

  10. I stand by my comment that Lewis should have given the position back. Team orders or not… He clearly did not have the balls to do it. So I lost a lot of respect for Mercedes as a team and Lewis as a sportsman. Please don’t come back with the 7 points argument this is how I feel…

    1. They can even come back with the 7 points argument for all I care, that’ll just make them look silly when the season ends and hamilton inevitably won by MORE THAN 7 points!

  11. José Lopes da Silva
    2nd October 2018, 22:15

    All the top drivers seem to agree with this.

  12. Team orders are okay, but it seems Mercedes made up their minds at the list minute. ID they had agreed before the race then Bottas Mary not be too sad. Then again, Bottas may not have pushed hard.

  13. Mercedes just bought themselves some insurance against the drivers championship. Remember Mexico 2017. Vettel have Hamilton a puncture at the start of the race.Every now and then such puntures will result in a retirement. Then an engine could fail or a gearbox.
    Saying if he wins the championship with more than 7 points is a justification for why Bottas should have been allowed to win is a very immature view on life and odds. Because you are not aiming to win by a certain number of points, but to win quickly to reduce the tension.
    If Mercedes had much faith in their cars performance, speed and reliability, they would skip the first 4 races and win the remaining 15 or 16 races. But if you promised Wolff a million dollars, he will not take that risk. He is not matter of the universe.

    1. I like the last sentence – Perhaps we all are just a tiny piece of matter in this Universe 😊

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