Civil war looming at Mercedes after team orders saga in Malaysia

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in Parc Ferme after the malaysian GP

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in Parc Ferme after the malaysian GP

The Mercedes team’s German speaking faction has spoken out against the team orders that prevented Nico Rosberg from finishing on the podium and gifted Lewis Hamilton third place in Malaysia.

Rosberg pleaded over the radio to be let past his new British teammate Hamilton on Sunday, who was saving fuel to the finish.

Team boss Ross Brawn answered repeatedly, “Negative Nico, negative. Lewis’ pace is what we’re asking him to do. He could go a lot faster as well.”

Afterwards – but before Hamilton admitted on the podium that he was uncomfortable about finishing third – Rosberg told strategist Brawn on the radio to “Remember this one.”
It was a saga not unnoticed by Mercedes’ newly-arrived Austrian shareholders and bosses Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff, who were not amused.

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton battle it out

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton battle it out

Wolff agreed: “From a sporting point of view, that’s not what we want to see.”

“From a sporting perspective, that was wrong,” Lauda told German television RTL. “They should have let him (Rosberg) go. We need to talk to Ross, if this is the strategy to be used from now on.”

Brawn, whose role as team boss is believed threatened by the Austrian duo and also the likely arrival of McLaren’s Paddy Lowe, is understood to have defended the ‘team order’ on the basis that Rosberg was also low on fuel.

Rosberg denied: “I did not have to save fuel. Everything was alright. I will sit down together with Ross to rethink whether this was really the right decision.”

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates on the podium. Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday 24 March 2013.

Lewis Hamilton was subdued on the Sepang podium

The 27-year-old’s rationale is that, with tyres in good shape and fuel in the tank, he might have been able to chase down the leading Red Bulls.

According to Auto Motor und Sport, 1996 world champion Damon Hill agreed: “He might at least have been able to hurry the Red Bulls into a tyre problem.”

Rosberg added: “I don’t know if I would have gotten the Red Bulls. But I felt good at the time. I was doing well and would have liked to see how far I could have gone.”

Justifying his anger on the radio, he explained: “I tried to get them to reconsider their decision.”

But Rosberg denied Red Bull figure Helmut Marko’s claim that the episode demonstrates that Lewis Hamilton is Mercedes’ obvious number one driver.

“I can understand how this (episode) creates that impression,” Rosberg responded, “but I am sure that if I had been in front, the decision would have been the same.” (GMM)

  • Senna one

    Denial. Of course Lewis Is one and nico 2

  • Hawk

    Rosberg speaks well. “but I am sure that if I had been in front, the decision would have been the same.” very well said. I also agree that it would have been better if he had been given a shot at hunting the RBs. The Merc would have tested its endurance pace against that of the RBs. but now that came to naught, that was their best chance. As I recall his pace matched that of Seb. the risk would be him running out of tyres a small price to pay, but more seriously fuel. It would be understandable if Ross knew that Nico was low on fuel but did not want to embarass the Merc. Instead he localised it to one car so that it is not construed as a general problem. let’s watch that space.

  • Ken

    Lewis can finally keep his trophy and he doesn’t deserve it…talk about Karma

  • Tornillo Amarillo

    It’s not civil ward. Mercedes is not fighting the Red Bulls at all, nor Ferrari, they are fighting Lotus, Sauber and Force India for P4 in the WCC. They needed the points in Sepang, there were no point to run against Red Bull.

  • jerome

    If they had a problem with fuel in one car why penalize the other driver. If this is a team sport why did Hamilton not give way for nico knowing that he had a problem. F1 is a semi team sport the driver must overtake other cars and win the race. One point can make you either win or lose a championship. Ross was wrong!!!!

  • Flash Flaherity of the Long Ski

    No point to run against RB? So now everyone is cool all of a sudden with team orders determining the finishing order? Now, after years of complaining about boring races, it’s cool that the last 15 laps of the race were on cruise control to protect the delicate trash tires? Rosberg should have been allowed to go, but Seb was a villain for doing just that? Seems there is a real tragedy here indeed – the fans of F1 have completely lost their minds. Rosberg should have just passed Hamilton and gone after the Red Bulls. While Seb did what he should have done – race hard and go for it. Weber should have simply fought back and given us a real race to the finish with Rosberg threatening. THAT would be a sign of the return of the F1 many of us came to love. We should all be angry that the tire mess is creating boring shortened races that are now controlled by pit radios over on-track competition. What a joke.

  • Evil Kenevil

    @ jerome

    Indeed you are right. It wasn’t Rosberg’s fault the engineers didn’t fill up Ham’s car enough and he had to pay the price for it. It’s a shame what happened at Mercedes.

  • Evil Kenevil

    @ Flash Flaherity of the Long Ski

    The problem at RBR was that one driver’s engine was tuned down to save it in the long run, while the other driver had full power. Now if it were the case where both drivers had their engines tuned down or in normal spec, then it’s fair game and let them race till the end I say, but in this case it wasn’t so. MW had his engine tuned down and SV had full power. That meant SV will go pass sooner of later… MW could have set his engine to full spec once he saw SV attack but in this case he was a team player and listened to the bosses. Who was right or wrong is an endless debate but in my opinion both drivers must have the same options and chances in order to fight fair and square.

  • NBR_TERMINATOR54

    Didn’t we know that, the best Drivers in the world are not in charge of the race any more? Team Bosses are the new Drivers. Thats why Michael is racing Tony Karts. “Pure Racing”, the fastes win.F1 is now very boring boring boring.

  • Vic Nsi

    I feel Seb behaved quite childishly (very very disrespectful towards Mark) throughout the 2nd half of the race.

    Compare with almost the exact same situation at Mercedes in the very same race…

    The way Rosberg reacted to Ross Brawn was very ‘Classy’ by comparison. Ross’s reminder to Nico that Hamilton could also go quicker if he were allowed to, was even classier – the height of Class-iness in F1!!!!

  • Mareks

    What is the most important thing is to understand that Rosberg was always just No.2 driver in Mercedes team. Remember 2011 Belgium GP? Rosberg was told to save fuel just a few laps before the finish, still Schumacher was allowed to overtake Rosberg. Schumacher finished 5th and Rosberg was 6th. Besides, Mercedes didn’t protest the dirty trick from Schumacher – asking for the odd number (No.1 driver in each top team has an odd number on his car) that belonged to Rosberg for each of the 3 seasons. And each of these 3 times Schumacher was allowed “to rob” Rosberg. Shame!

  • duckswill

    There will not be a war because Hamilton is the arguably, the best racer in F1, Nico is not. End of story.

  • seeing scarlet

    quack quack, quack

  • MercHamRos

    F1 is turning into a joke… Highly abrasive tyres and lack of showing the true speed as well as wheel-to-wheel fights amongst drivers is ruining it for us fans. Not looking forward ti Chinese GP.

  • Nowhereman

    People, a lot of this we thinks stinks and rightly so.
    However, it is making lots of print and lots of print equates to more money coming into F1.
    It will be a tremendous season with lots of twists and one to be remembered.
    Ferrari, Mercedes and RB teams will have their work cut out this year.
    A great driver needs a competitive car to be good.
    We have great drivers with some competitive cars now.
    The tire thing is a joke but, I have a feeling it might be the last year for magical mystery tires.

  • Malcolm

    This isn’t good, especially when Lauda said we’ll have to speak to Brawn in public.

  • Henk

    @ Malcolm

    Indeed! As bad as when a man named “Toto”, who hired Pastor Maldonado, wants to lecture Ross Brawn about F1.