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.

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

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

Lotus to use Mercedes engines in 2015

It isn’t yet official but many F1 sources and those in the know are certain that in 2015, Lotus will switch from Renault engines to those made by Mercedes.

The move comes after a poor season so far not only for the Lotus team who have only scored eight points in the first nine races, but also for the Renault powered teams in general, they have been unreliable and not particularly quick either whereas Mercedes powered teams have benefitted this year from the german engines, with Mercedes domination and the impressive performances of teams such as Williams and Force India.

Renault recently came in for some heavy criticism from Red Bull boss Christian Horner after the retirement of Sebastian Vettel in Austria labelling their engine woes as ‘unacceptable’ and now it looks as though Lotus have had enough as well and will become the fourth Mercedes powered team on the grid in 2015.

 

Hamilton cruises to Silverstone success

Home favourite Lewis Hamilton drove a controlled and unchallenged effort to take victory at the British GP at Silverstone in front of thousands of adoring fans.

The Mercedes man finished around 20 seconds clear of Williams driver Valtteri Bottas in 2nd and Daniel Ricciardo in 3rd for Red Bull, the big factor of this race was the retirement of the championship leader Nico Rosberg, his Mercedes stopped near the halfway point of the Grand Prix.

Rosberg would start from pole but the start was overshadowed by a nasty accident for Kimi Raikkonen, the Finn ran wide before spinning into the barrier on the Wellington straight in a heavy impact crash which resulted in an hour delay as the barrier was fixed and some ankle worries for the Ferrari driver.

The incident also saw Felipe Massa retire as he nearly smashed Raikkonen, luckily though he managed to spin the car before the collision which meant there would be less damage.

Just over an hour later, the Grand Prix would start again, though with Hamilton now upto fourth after his quick start the first time round, he would quickly dispose of McLaren duo Magnussen and Button before setting his sights on Rosberg.

Having showed relentless pace in catching Rosberg, Hamilton would in fact take the lead on lap 29, after the German had gearbox issues which forced him to retire from the lead and in doing so close the championship tussle to only 4 points.

With Hamilton far clear and Bottas a comfortable second place, the fights were between Daniel Ricciardo and Jenson Button but mainly the epic duel between Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.

Ricciardo made the tyres last a remarkable 37 laps and was only just able to hold off Button for the final spot on the podium, another top three for the smiling Aussie whilst the McLaren driver would make do with 4th in front of largely pink grandstands in honour of his father John with the #PinkforPapa campaign.

Vettel and Alonso, the names which for the past few years would be at the front contesting race wins and even championships was now a battle for 5th place, however you could not tell that on the way the two men pushed each other to the very limit.

Fernando would find a way past Sebastian at Copse with a brilliant and brave move around Copse but from then on it would be close combat between these two great champions.

Alonso who had already served a stop-go penalty for overshooting his grid slot provided a very effective defence which despite coming close to on many occasions, Vettel could just not make the pass work much to his anger as he complained over team radio repeatedly.

Eventually though Vettel would find a way through, like Alonso it would be at Copse in a battle of who would brake the latest, the German made the move stick and there was nothing Alonso could do to really get back through.

Behind the great scrap was Magnussen, Hulkenberg, Kvyat and Vergne to round out the points scorers.

Race result
1 HAMILTON – MERCEDES – 2:26:52.094
2 BOTTAS – WILLIAMS +30.100
3 RICCIARDO – RED BULL +46.400
4 BUTTON – MCLAREN +47.100
5 VETTEL – RED BULL +53.500
6 ALONSO – FERRARI +59.500
7 MAGNUSSEN – MCLAREN +62.100
8 HULKENBERG – FORCE INDIA +88.200
9 KVYAT – TORO ROSSO +88.800
10 VERGNE – TORO ROSSO +101.000

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