Was Lewis Hamilton right to disobey Mercedes orders?

During the Hungarian GP today, Lewis Hamilton was instructed over the team radio to allow his team-mate Nico Rosberg past him, the instruction was repeated a number of times but the British driver did not obey the order and remained ahead of the championship leader, Hamilton would finish 3rd with Rosberg just behind him.

At the end of lap 46 of the Grand Prix, Hamilton was told by engineer Pete Bonnigton that Rosberg was “on the option tyre, he has one more stop so don’t hold him up”

On lap 48, Hamilton said that he “couldn’t imagine these tyres lasting another 20 laps” which basically meant that if he was to pit again then he would be fighting Rosberg for on track position.

On lap 51, Rosberg asked on team radio “why is he not letting me through?” almost immediately after this, Hamilton was given the instruction to “let Nico past this lap, on the main start/finish straight” but with Rosberg around a second behind, if he was to do this then he would lose time in his chase of Ricciardo and Alonso.

Hamilton responded to the order by saying “I’m not slowing down for Nico, get close and then he can overtake me”

Rosberg didn’t get close and went into the pit, he would come out and closed on Hamilton again but couldn’t force his way through despite a late attempt in turns 2 and 3 which Hamilton forced Rosberg to the edge of the track with no way past.

I can fully understand why Mercedes would want to get Rosberg ahead of a Hamilton from a constructors point of view, they could have been looking at a double podium finish as supposed to P3 and P4 meaning they could have had 6 more points, so from the Mercedes perspective it would make sense to give the order.

However, the facts are that Mercedes are a long way clear of nearest challengers Red Bull, they have the fastest car and they will win the constructors championship with ease, the drivers championship is between their two drivers, so why give a team order that could have such a big impact on the drivers championship, if Hamilton had of obeyed the order, he would probably be leaving the Hungaroring with a 17 point disadvantage compared to what is now an 11 point gap.

Also, I would say that for Hamilton to let his championship rival through willingly would show weakness on his part and it would be something that could play on his mind throughout the summer break, by remaining ahead he showed mental strength that he will not be ordered and this ultimately could end up being a crucial factor in the title tussle.

I doubt that this will carry on into Belgium in a months time, Mercedes handled the controversy at Monaco in a proper fashion and I would expect them to do the same here, for them they will hope that briefings and internal discussions can sort out any potential problems or misunderstandings that this has caused.

It will be interesting to see at the end of the season whether this has made a difference in the outcome of the world championship, if the title is won by six points or less then we can say that the events in Hungary were crucial to the final standings.

It has echoes of the Multi-21 incident in Malaysia in 2012 where Sebastian Vettel ignored team orders to pass Mark Webber and win the race, of course in that occasion it was an order discussed before the race that Vettel disobeyed, as supposed to a strategy meaning that it would be beneficial to give a car clear air as it was today.

I see it that Lewis Hamilton was perfectly entitled to do what he did today in the same way that Vettel was back in Kuala Lumpar, at the end of the day, Formula 1 is about close racing and pure racing, it may be a team sport but for me it is a better sport when the drivers are pushing each other to the limit with no orders or instructions involved.

Advertisements

Half Term Report: Mercedes

So far this year, Mercedes have been far and away the fastest team and have practically got the constructors title wrapped up already, the battle between drivers Rosberg and Hamilton continues but as far as the team is concerned, it can be considered quite an incredible first half of the season with podiums in every race and a massive gap to Red Bull in the standings.

They have had a few issues so far, poor pit stops and unreliability being the main ones that they should hope to improve, but that being said they are probably too far ahead for it to be a major concern, so other than that it has been domination from the German team.

They have done well under the pressure of leading both championships and have behaved well in trying to dismiss the ludicrous and frankly idiotic claims of sabotage and underhand tactics favouring Rosberg.

Nico Rosberg
• 1st place – 202 points
• 6 poles – Bahrain, Monaco, Canada, Britain, Germany, Hungary
• 4 wins – Australia, Monaco, Austria, Germany

Nico Rosberg leads the world championship at the half way point and few could say he doesn’t deserve his place at the top of the tree, with four wins and a half-dozen pole positions, he has shown a mature head for the most part and has also perhaps had the benefit of some good fortune compared to Hamilton in the reliability stakes, although he has had problems of his own, for Rosberg it has been a great effort so far but there is still much work to do with Hamilton close behind, he will be keen to avoid any more controversy like we saw during the Monaco GP qualifying session. He sits in the best position and if he can maintain a cool head and keep winning then he is certainly a good bet for the championship.

Rating: 8/10

Lewis Hamilton
• 2nd place – 191 points
• 4 poles – Australia, Malaysia, China, Spain
• 5 wins – Malaysia, Bahrain, China, Spain, Britain

Lewis Hamilton has had what you could describe as an inconsistent opening 11 races, when it goes well for him there would be no stopping him but there have been a number of problems that have set him back, failures to finish in Australia and Canada along with more recently a trio of qualifying problems in Austria, Germany and Hungary, although despite that he managed to make the podium in all three of those races, he has finished on the podium in every race he has finished and will hope that his bad luck shifts away from the 44 car and towards Rosberg and that he can pounce on it to chip away at the 11 point gap, has recovered from a large points deficit earlier on this season and there is no reason why he can’t go on and become a double world champion.

Rating: 8/10

What the FRIC?

In recent weeks there has been one word setting the paddock alight with speculation and discussion, FRIC.

Before you ask, what the FRIC? well to try and explain simply, FRIC is an acronym for Front-Rear-Interconnected Suspension.

The basic purpose of FRIC is to keep a car stable when it is going through a corner, it does so by maintaining a consistent ride-height from the rear of the car through to the front of it.

The big fuss seems to be over how teams are using the system to gain an advantage with ride height and how extreme their system is, with the FIA rules that outline the use of aerodynamic moving parts on a car, it seems that someone feels that a team has pushed the rules to a point where they are gaining an unfair advantage over the rest.

They had for long enough been legal but recently the Race Director Charlie Whiting sent a letter to all the teams which made it clear that in his view, FRIC was now illegal although if teams could come to a unanimous decision that it would be kept until the end of the season.

The teams were unable to reach a decision and so the FRIC system is banned for this weekends German GP, we are unsure of how it will affect the teams with performance, though it will be very interesting to see the gap Mercedes have at the front, or in fact if it is still there now that FRIC is not.

Sainz Jr close to Caterham drive

Carlos Sainz Jr is in negotiations with Caterham about a possible drive this season, the Red Bull backed driver has spent the year dominating the FR3.5 series with 4 wins so far and a 33 point championship advantage over his nearest rival Pierre Gasly, It would appear that the young Spaniard has impressed new Caterham bosses enough for them to consider him for a drive.

It comes just a short time after the Caterham team was sold by Tony Fernandes to a consortium based in Switzerland and the Middle East which appointed Colin Kolles and Christian Albers as team bosses and it looks as if they haven’t wasted any time in ringing the changes.

So there must be a victim in all this, if Sainz is to take the step up to F1 then either Kamui Kobayashi or Marcus Ericsson will make way, judging by performances so far this season I would expect the Swede to be axed, for me personally I haven’t seen anything that has made me think he is ready and capable to compete in F1, that despite securing the teams best result at the Monaco GP though he was still beaten by Marussia rival Jules Bianchi.

Sainz has backing from Red Bull and was seen as a potential candidate to drive for Toro Rosso this season before the role was handed to Daniil Kvyat but they rate him highly at Red Bull and if he does get the Caterham drive then it will provide a similar way to analyse his performance as they did with Daniel Ricciardo when they put him in the HRT in 2011, Sainz will hope that his F1 career can follow that of Ricciardo and see him move into a position to compete for wins in F1

Interestingly a few points to take note of, Colin Kolles was in charge at HRT when Red Bull gave Ricciardo the chance to drive for them in 2011 and was key in allowing the deal to go through. Also with Caterham using Red Bull technology and also the Renault engines, there is certainly a realistic chance that Red Bull may want to use Caterham as a measuring point for Sainz Jr ahead of what may end up as a move to Toro Rosso in 2015, most likely to replace Jean Eric Vergne.

Sainz is a good racer, whether he is yet ready for the move up to F1 remains to be seen, if the talks do end up in a drive for him then it will be interesting to see how it pans out.

Fixing something that wasn’t broken: the sorry state of F1

F1 has changed dramatically in the past few years more so than ever before, whilst some of the new moves are certainly beneficial to the sport, I would argue that many of them are just spoiling the natural spectacle of F1 racing that we all loved and continue to love even today.

Firstly I want to start with the main ones which were introduced what seems like an age ago, DRS and KERS, both designed to increase overtaking which in turn would add more excitement to the sport, for me I believe that they are just about right, in most cases they do liven things up a bit without making everything too fake, some would argue that it isn’t real racing because of the way in which these aids allow a driver to simply get in front due to superior speed, but in the most part I don’t have much problem with it.

Marc-Marquez-VS-Valentino-Rossi-2013-Wallpaper

Other slightly smaller changes that I agree with are things like the driver numbers, some may call it a gimmick, I like it because I see it as a way for fans to recognise their favourite driver and it can connect a driver forever to a particular number which is quite cool, think Villenueve and 27, more so with MotoGP with Rossi 46 and in recent times Marquez 93.

Plenty of steps have been taken that I won’t go into that I agree with but its a shame as they are massively outnumbered by the negative moves by those in the F1 positions of power led of course by Bernie Ecclestone, I want to take note of some of the crazy and ridiculous ideas that could have and may one day make F1 a laughing stock.

Sprinklers, yes you read that correctly, sprinklers. It may have been a joke but it sums up how little Ecclestone actually understands about what the fans want, I know my idea of F1 is that it is real racing, proper close and natural racing, whereas he said he would introduce sprinklers to turn on to soak the track which would cause more excitement, whilst it may have increased TV figures and what not, it would make F1 look incredibly stupid, fake and most importantly, it would destroy any hopes of natural racing.

At this weeks in-season testing at Silverstone, Lotus showed off new 18 inch wheels and from what I have read, the opinion is split, some say they look good, personally I am not a fan, they look a little unusual, almost a little tacky but it is only a trial run of course but they just don’t look right, perhaps it is a case that it may take time to get used to but at this moment, it is something I hope they don’t proceed with because they don’t need to as the current size is fine.

Now, for any of you reading that have attended a Grand Prix weekend, I’m sure you would agree that of course the main attention goes to the race day but the on-track spectacle starts on a Friday with the opening two practice sessions, earlier this season there had been some speculation that F1 would scrap Friday practice sessions altogether, of course it may have meant cheaper costs for the teams as they wouldn’t have to run cars an extra day but for fans of the sport it is just ripping them off somewhat, the loyal supporters deserve to see as much F1 action as possible and taking away FP1 and FP2 would be wrong in my view.

It has been a topic whispered around the F1 world for a while now, Customer Cars, whilst it may sound good to some of you, it would be a tragedy for the sport if it were to come into play, fortunately though it hasn’t yet, but if it was then it would be bad news for small teams as they already struggle to compete due to financial problems but surely if customer cars came in then it would hit the small teams hard.

Speaking of the new teams, yes they may be lapped every race and may not provide much to the sport but the fact is that F1 needs them, after the demise of HRT at the back end of 2012 only Caterham and Marussia remain of the new teams that burst onto the scene in 2010, both have had contrasting seasons, Marussia scored their first ever points at Monaco with a 9th place finish from Bianchi, whereas Caterham have struggled and recently changed their ownership after Tony Fernandes sold up, some people see the backmarkers as bad for the sport and want them to go as they could be replaced by third cars for frontrunning teams like Ferrari or Mercedes, but the fact is we need these teams, every team is needed in F1 and it would be a shame if they were to go or be pushed off the grid.

Double points, quite possibly the worst thing to hit F1 in years, the idea comes from America with the likes of IndyCar and Nascar, as far as I am concerned, it is a joke, what is the point in it, of course Bernie only cares about it benefitting the TV audiences and interest from sponsors, in a sporting degree it is fully unfair, if a driver wins the title purely because of double points then it just means they would not have won it if this ridiculous ruling didn’t happen, I’d almost go as far as to say they should have a little * beside their name to highlight the fact that they won it because of double points and nothing else, also it may increase interest in the season ending grand prix, but it also may make the organisers of the other races see their event quite literally as half as important which isn’t fair.

It was tested during the Austria GP weekend, Fake sparks, designed to improve the show that is Formula 1, it looked great back in the day when the sparks would fly out of the rear end of the cars, but that was then and this is now, what is the point in producing artificial sparks, it just doesn’t make sense to me.

We see on social media most sports able to connect to the fans, F1 teams in the most part do a superb job with interacting with the supporters through the likes of Twitter and I like so many others appreciate their effort, but compared to other sports like Football, F1 is nowhere near as strong socially, of course you may say that the fact is that Football is a more popular sport but really F1 whilst it uses social media to some degree, it misses out on a lot when it comes to attracting new fans with the power that social media has.

FOM, where do I begin with this, it really is a pet hate as far as I am concerned, whilst it is small, it is annoying and I can’t help but point it out, the virtual advertising and text that is plastered all over F1 coverage, it can be advertising for Rolex or Emirates to name a few brands, it can be random phrases, from ‘Bernie says think before you drive’ or ‘F1 the worlds fastest brand’ to the more ridiculous as was noticed by eagle-eyed viewers with the ‘Thank you Mr Mateschitz’ message as the Red Bull supremo helped bring F1 back to Austria, I just think it looks unbelievably tacky and it is not needed, there is space for advertising on near enough every corner of a track, why should we have to see more of it through graphical advertising, as well as that it is distracting from the actual racing.

I know for a fact that people will disagree with me on some of these issues, don’t forget this is just my opinion, I just feel that over the past few years F1 has changed and is getting to a point where it is becoming more of an advertising platform rather than a sport that is followed by millions across the world.

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

 

Silverstone testing times: Day 1

Felipe Massa topped the first day of F1 testing at Silverstone, the Brazilian was 0.006 quicker than Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo with championship leader Nico Rosberg third fastest three tenths slower than the front duo.

Adrian Sutil would manage 73 laps with his fastest good enough for 4th place, Marussia completed the most mileage today with Jules Bianchi setting 108 laps and posting the 5th quickest time.

Stoffel Vandoorne took up his role as test driver for McLaren and produced 71 laps and would end the day in 6th ahead of regular race drivers, Force India’s Sergio Perez, Jean Eric Vergne who in his Toro Rosso was only able to lap the track 28 times and the Lotus of Pastor Maldonado.

Pedro de La Rosa filled in for Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari and it took a long time to get up to speed, he would be second slowest but just in front of young British hopeful Will Stevens in his Caterham.

Testing continues tomorrow.

Day 1 Times

1. Massa – Williams – 1:35.242 – 42 laps
2. Ricciardo – Red Bull – 1:35.248 – 72 laps
3. Rosberg – Mercedes – 1:35.573 – 90 laps
4. Sutil – Sauber – 1:35.674 – 73 laps
5. Bianchi – Marussia – 1:36.148 – 108 laps
6. Vandoorne – McLaren – 1:36.148 – 71 laps
7. Perez – Force India – 1:36.583 – 79 laps
8. Vergne – Toro Rosso – 1:36.688 – 28 laps
9. Maldonado – Lotus, 1:37.131 – 97 laps
10. De La Rosa – Ferrari, 1:37.988 – 49 laps
11. Stevens – Caterham, 1:40.627 – 95 laps

brilliant Bottas on his way to a bright future in F1

Even before he reached F1 in 2013, Valtteri Bottas had been tipped by many as a future F1 star and by some even as a future world champion, so far in his second season he is not disappointing with back to back podiums.

The tell-tale signs were there showing off the talent that the young Finn has even from his 2011 GP3 Series win where he took to the top step of the podium seven times.

He took a year out from competitive racing in 2012 to become test and reserve driver for Williams, clearly he had been doing something right to impress the team as he was given the race seat for 2013.

In what was a season of disappointment for Williams in 2013 with one of their worst cars ever, Bottas provided proof that he could be the man to turn the team around, firstly the stunning P3 in qualifying for the Canadian GP which shocked so many, then with the 8th place points finish at Texas he would bring Williams four of their five points of the campaign.

Williams provided a much better car for Bottas and new team-mate Massa in 2014 and it wouldn’t take him long to show his skill and racing ability with a comeback drive from 15th to 5th, he would have likely made the podium had he not clattered the wall during the race.

He would continue to score points at every race up until the Monaco GP where he would retire, but it didn’t hold him back as he returned to form with another points finish in Canada, then came the big step up for Valtteri.

Austria and the return to Spielberg provided a thriller for Williams with a one-two in qualifying which Bottas took P2, the young Finn would put in a superb race to take his maiden F1 podium in 3rd place, he kept his composure and would only come home 8.6 seconds behind the dominant Mercedes.

Williams home race weekend in Silverstone didn’t get off to the best of starts for Bottas, firstly he didn’t take part in first practice as he handed the car over to reserve driver Susie Wolff, then when he did get in the car it didn’t break into the top 5 during practice 2 and 3.

Then came qualifying and in the mixed conditions Williams and also Ferrari struggled massively with Bottas only qualifying 17th though he would start the British GP from 14th due to other penalties around him, he had one of the quicker cars in the grid but could he rescue what had been a shocking weekend for the Grove based team?

Of course he could, Bottas turned in one of his best drives in his short career so far and was charging his way through the field and into points positions within a handful of laps, he made some cracking overtakes along the way to get into the position where he could challenge for a podium.

After the retirement of Rosberg, Bottas would be relatively unchallenged behind race winner Hamilton to secure his second podium in succession and his best result in F1 in front of the Silverstone crowd.

What next for Bottas? Sitting pretty in 5th in the drivers championship with 73 points, it would be no surprise to see Bottas perhaps move into a position to be the so-called ‘best of the rest’ which is currently occupied by Red Bull man Daniel Ricciardo who has 98 points, 25 ahead of the young Finn.

For sure we should expect a few more high points results and podiums, a race win isn’t beyond him either but he would need to benefit from Mercedes misfortune it would have to be said.

At just 24, Bottas is already turning heads in F1 and I am sure I’m not the only one that tips him as a potential world champion one day, whether it is with Williams or elsewhere I’m not sure, but he has the cool, the talent and the racing skill to go very far in the sport.