Hamilton escapes punishment, Mercedes say their orders were wrong

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    Lewis Hamilton acting with grace and manners. (Photo: AP)

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    Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton will escape unpunished for ignoring team orders in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which saw Nico Rosberg clinch the Formula One world title.

    “In the heat of the moment, sometimes when you make decisions you get them wrong,” Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff told Sky Sports on Friday.

    “In our mind, the way we think, this race is giving us the same number of points as other races and we try to win that one, not considering that there was much more at stake for the drivers.

    “How the race panned out, we should have communicated differently and in hindsight let them race in the way they deemed to be appropriate.”

    Hamilton was repeatedly told over team radio to speed up as he attempted to back Rosberg into traffic in a desperate attempt to retain the drivers’ championship.

    But Rosberg’s sudden retirement after securing his maiden crown means Mercedes have more pressing matters to deal with ahead of February testing for the 2017 season.

    A series of posts and adverts saying a driver is wanted have made light of the situation but with many top racers already tied to teams for next year, Mercedes cannot simply name whoever they wish to partner Hamilton.

    Finding someone capable of driving one of the strongest cars on the grid is no small task even before the complex issue of team relations is taken into account.

    Hamilton was previously a prickly partner for Fernando Alonso at McLaren and his time at Mercedes has been notable for on track spats with Rosberg along with his victories.

    Wolff did not explicitly say Hamilton would have veto right over his new teammate but did admit that keeping the three-time world champion happy was a consideration.

    “It is like many other employees,” Wolff said.

    “We will give Lewis the information once we’ve come to a point where we think it’s a sensible decision and then inform him.

    “It’s very important to keep him in a good place. The dynamics between the two drivers is one of the factors we will consider.”

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    The Crowd Says (11)

    • December 10th 2016 @ 7:08am
      Big Steve said | December 10th 2016 @ 7:08am | ! Report

      this is such a suck up move to Hamilton after robbery retired. Wolff must be worried hamilton won’t let him hire another driver.

      • December 11th 2016 @ 8:09am
        Brando Connor said | December 11th 2016 @ 8:09am | ! Report

        Gotta disagree with you. They were wrong to give the orders to Hamilton in the first place. They should have just let him fight it out as best he could with Rosberg. Its not like Hamilton resorted to running Rosberg off the road.

        As for calling Rosberg “robbery”, I think that is ignorant. Rosberg won because he was the best most consistent driver through out the year – ie scored the most points.

        • December 12th 2016 @ 11:06am
          Cento said | December 12th 2016 @ 11:06am | ! Report

          I’d say I’m with Jackie Stewart on the team orders. As he said, Hamilton is paid a bucket load of money by Mercedes and it’s their car, not his, he’s the employee. If they say something he can’t just ignore it. After all, it’s Mercedes that gave him a car to win championships because if Hamilton was in ANY other car for the last 3 years it’d be Rosberg who would have had 3 Championships, or at least shared with his team mate (whoever that might have been).

          • December 12th 2016 @ 2:25pm
            Arky said | December 12th 2016 @ 2:25pm | ! Report

            Jackie Stewart was speaking with his former team owner hat on and not his driver’s hat.

            The fans and the drivers are there for individual glory, not to treat the drivers as faceless employees who should lose if their team tells them to lose. It’s only a team sport in the garage; it has never been a team sport on the track.

          • December 13th 2016 @ 6:44pm
            Brando Connor said | December 13th 2016 @ 6:44pm | ! Report

            Mercedes has said in the past that they are happy for the drivers to fight it out on track provided they dont crash and take each other out. What Hamilton was doing was inside those guidelines (just). Mercedes still walked away with the 1-2 race win, championship win, constructors championship win. The TV cameras focused on their cars not on what Max Verstappen was doing. What Hamilton did was an all round win for them.

        • December 12th 2016 @ 1:43pm
          KenW said | December 12th 2016 @ 1:43pm | ! Report

          If he was told not to fight for position against Rosberg and ignored that order to try to win the championship I don’t think many would argue that the team got it wrong.

          But slowing down to tactically back his teammate into chasing traffic against the orders of his team is not the same thing. Hamilton has them somewhat over a barrel so their position is understandable, but he really did deserve a pretty hefty penalty.

    • December 10th 2016 @ 9:53am
      BrainsTrust said | December 10th 2016 @ 9:53am | ! Report

      Hamilton’s nominee will be Alex Yoong.

    • December 10th 2016 @ 5:23pm
      Dexter The Hamster said | December 10th 2016 @ 5:23pm | ! Report

      Not much of a surprise here. They can’t afford to have Hamilton throwing his toys out the cot now.

    • December 10th 2016 @ 7:19pm
      Mike from tari said | December 10th 2016 @ 7:19pm | ! Report

      How’s the big head supposed to have respect for his bosses, piss him off ???

    • December 12th 2016 @ 2:03pm
      Arky said | December 12th 2016 @ 2:03pm | ! Report

      They were wrong to issue the team orders and to hint at punishing Hamilton for disobeying, but no doubt this backdown was triggered by Rosberg retiring. Suddenly Hamilton is the guy Mercedes need to keep happy at all costs. How it must aggravate them! Maybe Lewis will forgive Rosberg, since Rosberg has given him this parting gift.

    • Roar Rookie

      December 12th 2016 @ 2:29pm
      Sam Craig said | December 12th 2016 @ 2:29pm | ! Report

      Mercedes needs stability in Hamilton, they’ve got enough to worry about, so I’m not surprised at this move.
      As for the decision in itself, they just should’ve let them race, it’s kind of ridiculous.
      Great write up.

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