Tag Archives: Hamilton

Lowe not stressed about allowing Merc drivers to race

Paddy Lowe says he wasn’t worried about allowing Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to race each other in Bahrain as he was confident they would be responsible.

Lowe came on the radio during the safety car period and told both men that the priority was to bring the cars home – but that was not a coded message to hold station, as they subsequently proved.

“To be honest I didn’t get overly stressed about it,” said Lowe. “Because I know they’re great professionals, they’re experienced drivers, they know what it takes. I gave them a little bit of a reminder during the safety car, just remember it’s all about bringing the car home. But that didn’t mean don’t race, it just meant there’s a line not to cross, which is where you endanger the car. They did a perfect job with that.”

Lowe agreed that Mercedes had a duty to allow the drivers to race, and put on a show.

“I would say, yes. Imagine if we had imposed team orders from lap two or something. What a terrible thing that would be for F1, and the philosophy of Mercedes in motor sport. It’s something we owe to ourselves and owe to the sport, and owe to the drivers. They’re great drivers. They’re professionals, and you want to give them the opportunity to race, which is what they do.

“Theoretically there may come a point in the season where one driver is clearly not in contention for the championship, and the other one is. That situation is normally so evident that the other driver volunteers to assist the cause.”

The drivers ran different strategies in the race, with Rosberg taking on the medium tyre in the middle stint to give him better pace on the soft at the end, when Lewis was on the medium.

“We split the strategy in order to give a chance for an overtake on Lewis. That strategy was quite evenly matched relative to the option option prime. Then of course with the safety car that created a situation where two cars which ordinarily would have had a gap suddenly close up, with the car behind on the option. In terms of entertainment, you couldn’t have set it up better.

“The difference in the tyres appeared lower than we predicted and we’d seen in the practice sessions it was somewhere between three to five tenths, as it turned out. Nevertheless Lewis did a great job to keep Nico behind with that delta.”

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Lewis Hamilton: “It’s too hot for the tyres…”

Lewis Hamilton ended Friday in Malaysia in fourth place, with a best lap some 0.142s off pacesetter Nico Rosberg. The Mercedes driver was also been eclipsed by Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.

Like his team mate, Hamilton had concerns about the tyres.

“We were just working to understand the tyres, which are very, very hot,” he said. “And also just making sure that the balance is right, so you can go as long as possible.

“It’s the same as every time we come here, so it’s to be expected. It’s too hot for the tyres, the tyres aren’t working very well in these conditions. Even though we’ve got the hard tyre and the medium here, the tyres do not feel great, but it’s the same for everyone.”

Told that team mate Nico Rosberg didn’t seem happy with his day, Lewis said: “We got through practice and he’s at the front, so it’s kinda weird that he wouldn’t be satisfied with that. Balance wise we are still a little bit away from where we want to be.”

Meanwhile Lewis wasn’t interested in speculating about the current status quo.

“I don’t have a guess, I’m not really focussed on anyone else, I’m just focussed on my side trying to make sure the car is comfortable beneath me. Hopefully it will go the distance.”

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Nico Rosberg: “There will be battles between Lewis and I…”

In all likelihood the Australian GP will quickly develop into a battle between Mercedes team mates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, which begs the question will they be allowed to race?

Given the potential challenges of fuel consumption, tyre durability and of course reliability a team boss could be forgiven for imposing orders, especially when his cars have such a big advantage over the rest. Why waste a guaranteed one-two when the cars are still potentially fragile by risking retirement?

Mercedes has had some issues in the past, notably in Malaysia last year when Rosberg was told to sit behind a fuel saving Hamilton, but team boss Toto Wolff says his drivers won’t be reined in this year.

“They are completely free to race, because this is why we’re here,” said Wolff. “You need to establish rules if you have somebody in the car who doesn’t understand the concept maybe, or is just looking at himself. But I don’t think this is the case with Lewis and Nico. We’ve had some discussions about it, and I don’t think this going to be an issue or a problem.

“I think if you look back at Malaysia last year it was a bit of a perfect storm for us. We were caught out by surprise running third and fourth, then Lewis ran into a bit of a problem, and then Nico caught up, and we weren’t quite sure if Nico would run into a problem, and he got a call, which was quite a direct call, and maybe we would do it in a different way today. This is why it was a tricky and difficult situation to manage.”

Wolff insisted that the ground rules are flexible: “I think it’s very difficult to establish parameters and say that whoever has the first corner stays in front. We’re not doing this. We had a long discussion with Paddy and the boys. It was a very good discussion, and everybody gave his opinion on how we should proceed, and we defined that even if this is difficult to comprehend, where we came from as a team, our main competitors are the other teams. And then we need to make sure that as a team we are running strongly.

“And then it’s to be decided on a case-by-case what’s going in in the cars. I think it could go one race in one direction, and the other race in the other direction. I think pretty much all possible situations we have discussed and found a solution which is acceptable to Nico and to Lewis, and the team.”

Meanwhile Rosberg admitted that the key thing was that everything had been discussed and possible scenarios planned for.

“That is the main thing, yes, it’s to really have a clear picture of what’s going on. I can already, that’s important for the TV, for everybody, for us as a team. That’s exciting, that’s what we’re here for. But within certain limits. Of course you can’t go crazy as team mates because at the same time we’re both racing for Mercedes, we’re both here to have great success for Mercedes, and help bring Mercedes to the front of F1.

“At the same time we want to go racing, have a good time, and do some exciting stuff on track, so we need to find the fine line, and we have done so with preparing for it. We’ve really gone through it in detail, so we know what to expect, and that’s the most important thing. Once everybody knows what he has to do, you’re good to go.”

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No regrets on Mercedes strategy calls, says Wolff

Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff admits that the team could have run a different strategy in Singapore – but insists that he has no regrets about that were made.

Both Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton stayed out under the safety car and made a late pit stop under green flag conditions, giving them fresh tyres and thus pace at the end of the race. They finished fourth and fifth.

“In retrospect it’s always easy to say we should have done this,” Wolff said when asked by this writer. “At that stage yes pitting Lewis behind Fernando, seeing that Fernando pits, would have been the right thing, but it also meant not beating Fernando on the strategy, and at that stage it was 35 laps to go, and we didn’t feel that we could do that.

“We didn’t feel that anybody else could do it. I feel that it was a bit of a gamble of the others. Kimi came from so far back that they needed to do it, and I think Stefano [Domenicali] said that they needed to take that gamble, and this time it worked out.”

Wolff admitted that the extended safety car period played into the hands of those who stopped: “It didn’t help us. But it was still a lot of laps. And you could see, I think it was just such a fine line between doing the right call, because if the race had gone three laps more everything could have changed. But then again the fact of being so much in traffic… As I said afterwards it’s easy to be the smart arse. But lots of people had to gamble, the McLarens had to gamble, the Saubers had to gamble and passing all those guys is tricky. Lots of lessons to be learned.”

Meanwhile Wolff was mightily impressed by Red Bull’s form in Singapore.

“The only thing today that you can probably say with guarantee is we have a deserved winner, the performance was absolutely stunning. They have made a major step over the summer, and hearing the comments of the drivers their car is just able to make the tyres work in a proper way.”

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