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.

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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

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.

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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!

 

Changing of the guard

If one thing was evident during the Australian GP, it was that the talk that the 2014 era would favour the more experienced drivers on the grid was totally wrong, the main stand out performances came from the youngster and in particular three men, Kevin Magnussen, Valtteri Bottas and Daniil Kvyat.

Magnussen has been on McLaren’s radar for a long time now and after winning the FR3.5 series, the next step was for him to replace the disappointing Sergio Perez for the 2014 season.

Fast forward to the Australian GP and the Dane had impressed in testing but the big question was, could he do it on a F1 race weekend, he silenced any doubters immediately with his solid performances during the practice sessions, he followed this up with a hugely impressive 4th place on the grid in what was a tricky Q3 for all the drivers, he had now shown he had the raw pace but was the race craft there? Again he proved his ability with a stunning drive which saw him battle throughout the race with Red Bull and Daniel Ricciardo, after the Australian got disqualified it meant that Magnussen had secured 2nd on his Formula 1 debut, one place better of than the debut of the last rookie to race for McLaren, Lewis Hamilton.

Valtteri Bottas enjoyed the better of his more experienced team mate last year as he out-pointed Pastor Maldonado although the fact was that it was one of the worst seasons in the history of the Williams team, with huge changes at the Grove based outfit over the winter, including a new team-mate in Felipe Massa, could he show his talent this year?

Judging on the Finns performance at Albert Park, he is going to have a great year, despite a poor qualifying performance which was made worse by a grid penalty which had him starting from 15th, he fought his way through the midfield runners before colliding with the wall sending him back to the pits with a puncture, despite that setback Bottas came back again and finished well in the points in 5th place.

Perhaps the biggest surprise from the first race weekend was the performance of Toro Rosso teen Daniil Kvyat, his selection last year surprised many within the F1 paddock but his debut was one to remember,

The Russian had a few nervy moments during the practice sessions although what else would you expect from a teenager making his debut in F1, however he recovered from this in qualifying and coped with the wet conditions superbly putting himself 8th on the grid and followed that with a solid drive to finish 9th, in doing so he became the youngest ever points scorer in F1 history, not a bad way to announce yourself to the Formula 1 world.

Many said before the season started that experience would be vital in the new era of F1 but as it turns out it may be the youngsters like Magnussen, Bottas and Kvyat that can become the new faces of the sport.

Malaysia GP Preview

A fortnight ago, we all welcomed Formula One back onto the scene at the Australian GP and in doing so witnessed the first step into the unknown that is the 2014 F1 season, after the dominant drive from Nico Rosberg and the DNF’s of his title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel but the main talking point was a decision reached over six hours after the race.

The home favourite Daniel Ricciardo put in a stellar performance to get a 2nd place finish to the delight of the Australian fans and the Red Bull team, but he would have it cruelly taken away from him due to the RB10 breaking a fuel flow rule, he was subsequently disqualified from the race result and the matter will now rage on with Red Bull confirming their appeal of the decision, it is fair to say then that the Malaysia GP should be another dramatic race in the soaring heat of the Sepang circuit.

Malaysia, of course is a site of controversy, just think back 12 months to the race last year and the now infamous Multi-21 incident involving the Red Bull team and their drivers Vettel and Mark Webber but the main controversy as mentioned is the appeal to the exclusion of Ricciardo from the results.

The Sepang international circuit is a much more proper purpose built race track than Albert Park and with the long straights and fast corners we can expect a good race, add to this of course the weather in Kuala Lumpar, in recent years it has been more unpredictable than the pecking order of the 2014 season itself, that pecking order may become somewhat more clear on Sunday.

It promises to be an interesting weekend with many teams and the fans still somewhat in the dark about where everyone sits in terms of the pecking order.

The all important times for the weekend are as follows and remember that the clocks go forward by one hour so adjust the alarms!!!

Friday
Practice 1 – 02:00 – 03:30
Practice 2 – 06:00 – 07:30
Saturday
Practice 3 – 05:00 – 06:00
Qualifying – 08:00 – 09:00
Sunday
Race – 09:00

The Chequered Flag Blog Prediction

I think that it will be another Mercedes domination although the DNF of Hamilton showed that they are not totally there with reliability, behind them are a number of teams, Williams, McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull but with the lack of reliability, a few of those cars may not finish so the midfield teams may once again be able to snatch a point or two, my prediction is:
1. Rosberg 2. Hamilton 3. Bottas

Australian GP – Rosberg win overshadowed by fuel flow farce

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Nico Rosberg crushed the rest of the field on his way to winning the season opening Australian GP ahead of the McLaren duo of Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button, the race was filled with drama throughout the 57 laps and in the case of Red Bull and Daniel Ricciardo, much later into the Melbourne night.

The race and with it the 2014 season started after not one, but two formation laps, the Marussia cars both unable to get off the grid so they joined Romain Grosjean in the pit lane, eventually the race was ready to start.

The lights went out and the battle to lead into turn 1 was close, Pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton got a poor start and was pounced on by his team-mate Nico Rosberg and then Ricciardo although it would turn out that the Brit had a big problem which contributed to the lack of pace he had, as for the rest, Kevin Magnussen did very well to keep his car facing the right way after his tyres spun out nearly taking him into Alonso, Raikkonen got a decent start and took a few places as did Bottas however his Williams team-mate Felipe Massa would take no further part after he was smashed in the rear by Kobayashi in his Caterham, it had a brakes problem and that was both their races over.

Then came the retirements of two of the major players as Lewis Hamilton retired after just 4 laps with a misfiring cylinder, he would be followed by Sebastian Vettel only a few moments later with a loss of power in his Red Bull.

Williams remaining driver Bottas was on a charge, that was until he brushed the wall at turn 10 which left him with a rear right puncture forcing him into the pits and forcing the safety car out for the first time this season, in and around that period the majority of the field pitted, it would work into the hands of Button as he jumped a few places up to sixth.

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From the moment the safety car returned to the pits it was even more clear that Rosberg was going to be far into the distance and that was exactly the case as he charged to the chequered flag, Ricciardo and Magnussen looked set for a podium but they battled until the end of the race with the Red Bull man edging out the Danish rookie who had done a great race to score a podium on his McLaren and F1 debut, just behind that duo was Jenson Button in 4th, a great drive for him coming from tenth on the grid.

Bottas had managed to fight his way back through the field and may be left to wonder how much the puncture cost him but despite that he came home 6th ahead of Force India star Nico Hulkenberg in 7th, the German once again showed his talent as he kept the car always in contention for the points.whilst it was not a good day for Ferrari, problems limiting Alonso and Raikkonen to 5th and 8th, they were followed by another Italian team, Toro Rosso managed to keep both cars in the points after their excellent qualifying display, Vergne took 9th while a piece of history was made as Daniil Kvyat secured 10th to become the youngest ever points scorer in F1 taking the record from Sebastian Vettel.

Perez finished the race just outside the points in 11th and was the last of the drivers on the lead lap. Sutil in 12th along with Gutierrez and the Marussia of Max Chilton finished a lap behind the race winner Rosberg.

As for those who failed to finish, it was a number of issues, Bianchi was always playing catch up after his problems at the start, Lotus didn’t finish either but compared to their earlier pace or lack of it, it was good that Grosjean got 45 laps in before eventually calling it a day and the rest were a combination of problems.

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However… Soon after the race, rumours began to circulate that Ricciardo was under investigation for a fuel flow irregularity, the issue had seemingly been highlighted by the FIA earlier in the weekend but Red Bull claim that the FIA equipment that they use to measure the fuel however around six hours later it was confirmed that Ricciardo was disqualified from the race, Red Bull have confirmed that they will appeal the decision.

1) Rosberg – Mercedes
2) Magnussen – McLaren
3) Button – McLaren
4) Alonso – Ferrari
5) Bottas – Williams
6) Hulkenberg – Force India
7) Raikkonen – Ferrari
8) Vergne – Toro Rosso
9) Kvyat – Toro Rosso
10) Perez – Force India