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.

F1 and the Fans.

It may just be me but it looks as if the relationship between F1 drivers and the fans is starting to change, in times gone by it would be rare for a driver to be active on the social networking sites most notably Twitter and the only way the fans could get close to them would be to go to the track or to try to track them down at an event, now it seems that it is all change in my opinion.

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I am often on Twitter and use it frequently to keep updated with what is going on in F1 and in the world in general, but more so than ever I see the teams or the drivers interacting with their fans and it can only be a good thing for both driver and supporter, I know the drivers must be tremendously busy with all sorts of media commitments and sponsorship deals and everything that comes with being a professional racing driver and it says a lot about them that they are wanting to give something back to the fans. It may not be for everyone and it is totally understandable for the drivers to want to try to keep themselves to themselves not be distracted from their racing, At the minute there are only a number of F1 drivers not on Twitter, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen are the most notable although in Kimi’s case it would be pointless for him to have Twitter as he doesn’t really say much, though would have no problem then trying to limit himself to 140 characters.

From what I have seen when I have been on Twitter there are a number of drivers and teams that would interact with the fans on a regular basis, for example today, the Mercedes AMG F1 Team account hosted a Q&A with their driver Lewis Hamilton where they invited fans to ask Lewis questions with the hashtag #AskLewis and he would pick out the best ones and respond to them, I’m sure the people who did get an answer from Hamilton were over the moon and rightly so, I would also imagine that Lewis appreciates the support that he gets and was glad he could talk to his supporters, I personally submitted two questions, they weren’t answered but I and hopefully the rest of the fans appreciate the effort that Lewis made to take the time (around 30 minutes) out of his day especially when he is out in Bahrain with testing, to answer questions from the fans all over the world. With more teams and drivers doing this sort of thing, It brings us closer to the driver and I think that can only be good for everyone.