Mercedes under fire for Three Stooges style management

Niki Lauda  and Toto Wolff

Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff

Formula 1 experts have accused Mercedes of mismanaging Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton’s dramatically imploding relationship, likening the management style to something out of Three Stooges or Looney Tunes.

The German team said contrite championship leader Nico Rosberg has now apologised for his clash with Hamilton in Belgium and been disciplined.

Britain’s Daily Mail claims the penalty is a six-digit financial sum, paid to charity. But Max Mosley, the former long-time FIA president, thinks Mercedes was wrong to so clearly point the finger of blame.

“If they decided to fine or punish Rosberg they should not have announced it,” he said. “It’s as if the team are blaming him publicly. That’s not really right.”

Former team owner and boss turned British television pundit Eddie Jordan agrees, saying the spotlight should not be on the warring protagonists.

Friendship tested: Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at war

“I blame the team,” he is quoted by the Daily Star. “They are weak, rudderless. They are being run by two drivers who are like spoilt kids doing what they want to do.”

Former McLaren driver John Watson even likened chiefs Toto Wolff, Paddy Lowe and Niki Lauda to The Three Stooges and a Looney Tunes style of management.

“Lewis and Rosberg are doing nothing different to what two highly competitive drivers have done in the past,” he told Express newspaper. But the difference is management and having someone that commands respect like Ross Brawn who was in charge last year.”

“If you haven’t got somebody who commands respect you end up with the lunatics taking over the asylum which is the case here,” Watson added.

After the crisis meeting at Brackley last Friday, Mercedes’ management of the situation continued in the form of a statement attributed to Hamilton posted on the 2008 world champion’s Facebook page.

Nico Rosberg clips the rear wheel of Lewis Hamilton during the Belgian Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg clips the rear wheel of Lewis Hamilton during the Belgian Grand Prix

Referring to the Spa clash but probably also his own comments to the media afterwards, Hamilton was quoted as saying: “Nico and I accept that we have both made mistakes and I feel it would be wrong to point fingers and say which one is worse than the other.

“There is a deep foundation that still exists for me and Nico to work from, in spite of our difficult times and differences,” added the 2008 F1 World Champion.

At the Brackley meeting, it was reportedly resolved that Mercedes would continue to allow the drivers to race freely, albeit within the boundaries of ‘clean racing’.

“It (not imposing team orders) was a difficult decision,” Wolff told Bild. “But Nico and Lewis are our heroes. I hope and believe that they understand our requirements and our goals. It is now up to them to deal with this responsibility.”

Lauda, meanwhile, admitted to Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper on Sunday that further fireworks can be expected, particularly as Hamilton “lost everything in Spa” and will be keen to “get back these points”.

“We have to be careful,” he admitted. “But as long as they do not endanger the clearly defined objectives of Mercedes, they can go on as they like.

“I understand Nico and Lewis very well as they both want to win races and be world champion. But they cannot put the entire project at risk,” Lauda insisted. (GMM)