Lewis Hamilton has never asked for favoured treatment at Mercedes and the team orders that helped him to third place at the Malaysian Grand Prix were made only out of necessity, according to team principal Ross Brawn.
Brawn told Sky Sports F1 in an interview that both Hamilton, the 2008 Formula One world champion, and German team mate Nico Rosberg were told to hold position purely because of a fuel issue.
Rosberg, who finished fourth, had repeatedly asked for Hamilton to be told to let him through because the German felt he was faster.
“I didn’t like having to give the orders I gave in Malaysia, it’s not in my sporting nature and I think the team have demonstrated many times in the past that we are very happy to let our drivers race each other,” Brawn said.
“From a technical perspective, we would have looked extremely foolish if we’d run both cars out of fuel,” he added.
Hamilton was uncomfortable with the situation after the race at Sepang, saying on the podium that he felt Rosberg – who won last year’s Chinese Grand Prix for the team – should have been standing there instead of him.
Non-executive chairman Niki Lauda, the retired triple world champion who is also a shareholder in the team, also criticised Brawn’s actions which he said were wrong from a sporting perspective.
“We need to talk to Ross, if this is the strategy to be used from now on,” the Austrian had said after the race.
Brawn, who won both titles in 2009 with the team he then sold to Mercedes, said neither Hamilton nor Lauda were aware of the overall picture at the time and praised his driver for his sense of fair play.
“Of course Lewis wants to race… in the contractual negotiations we had with Lewis, never was the issue of who was number one or two ever mentioned from his side. All he wants is parity,” explained the principal.
“He wants the same equipment, the same opportunity and that’s great that he’s got that confidence and approach that he doesn’t want favouritism. I think that’s why Lewis felt a little bit awkward about the situation.”
Brawn, a former technical director and master strategist who guided Michael Schumacher to seven titles in their time together at Benetton and Ferrari, made it clear that he called the shots during the race.
“I had to make a decision on the pit wall. Niki or (executive director) Toto (Wolff) might not agree with it but I had all the facts, all the information,” he said.
“I had what I feel was all the information needed to make that decision and they didn’t. I think they both recognised after the event that it was the right decision. I am clear to make the decisions that I need to make.
“Somebody has to make those decisions. What you can’t do is have those decisions made by a group or a committee. There’s no time.”
The 27 points garnered at the Malaysian Grand Prix represented the biggest single race haul for Mercedes since they took over the Brawn team. (Reuters)