In the wake of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff cried “anarchy” when Lewis Hamilton refused to up the pace during his thrilling duel with Nico Rosberg, but since then the tam boss has softened his stance.
The shock retirement from Formula 1 by Rosberg relegated the issue to the back-burner, obviously time and circumstances have since helped heal the apparent damage done within the hierarchy of the Silver Arrows on the night.
Wolff told Sky Sports, “In the heat of the moment, sometimes when you make decisions you get them wrong.”
Mercedes had wrapped up the constructors’ title long before the finale at Yas Marina, thus the stage was set for a no holds barred duel for the title between their drivers Hamilton and Rosberg.
That’s exactly what transpired as Hamilton used shrewd race craft to back Rosberg into the path of hard chasing Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen. It was riveting stuff, a fitting final showdown to the longest season in F1 history.
But during the nail-biting climax Mercedes gave Hamilton the following orders:
Engineer: “Ok Lewis, this is an instruction, we need 45.1 for the win.”
Hamilton: “I suggest you guys let us race.”
Paddy Lowe: “Lewis, this is Paddy. We need you to pick up the pace to win this race. That’s an instruction.”
Hamilton: “Paddy, er, I’m actually in the lead right now and quite comfortable.”
After the race Wolff was furious with Hamilton’s actions, “Undermining a structure in public means you are putting yourself before the team. It is very simple. Anarchy does not work in any team and in any company.”
But fast forward two weeks and his tune has changed considerably, “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,” admitted the Mercedes team chief.