Have the gloves or the wheels come off at Mercedes?

33

Things are getting interesting at Mercedes AMG Petronas these days. The Nico Rosberg USGP cap-throwing incident was followed by a victory in Mexico by the German only to be met with some not-so-veiled backhanded comments from his teammate, Lewis Hamilton, who had just secured his second world title for the team in Austin. When asked if the team had orchestrated the result in Mexico to keep harmony within the ranks, Lewis said:

“I never think those kind of things. But I know the team has felt the need to be extra warm [to Rosberg].”

“I do know what I mean but I’m not going to say what I mean. You should ask Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda.

“You should put those questions to them about how they feel about it, and what they have to do behind the scenes to keep him happy.”

Now there are reports in the British press about a row between team bosses Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda that could see the departure of the latter at the end of this season. Apparently the press were told in Mexico that Lauda was not an official spokesperson for the team and that only Wolff was to be sought for comments.

I’ve seen this act before and as it happens, Lewis Hamilton was at that team when it came to a grinding conclusion back in 2007 at McLaren. People often make note that Hamilton’s then teammate, Fernando Alonso, seems to be at the heart of many F1 controversies and while that may be true, Lewis has seen his share with difficult teammates and team politics.

Hamilton, having just won his third driver’s title, seemed to still be taking the stuffing out of Rosberg in Mexico suggesting that he had made a good run and luckily there was no :gust of wind” which was the reason Nico gave for running wide in Austin and handing the win to Lewis.

Getting in your teammate’s head is perfectly fine in my opinion but to be honest, I’m not sure why Lewis really cares at this point other than he can’t stand to lose and that’s part of why he’s a champion. Still, grassing up your teammate in Mexico, challenging your teams strategy publicly and then suggesting they are coddling Nico seems a bit heavy handed if I’m honest given he’s got his feet on the desk at Mercedes and two titles with the team to prove it. At this point, why open yourself up for criticism by commenting and kicking a guy when he’s clearly been bested two years on the trot? Why aggravate things further?

Now you have rumors of tumult within the leadership of the team and things could get ugly before they get better. It depends on what changes are made at the top as to what changes will be enforced down below. Ron Dennis could share a few things about this kind of difficult scenario.

I will say that there is a tremendous amount of bravado coming from the team of late. From the team bosses to Lewis down to their tweets and press releases. They have every right to be proud of what they have achieved and they have my utmost respect but a little humility goes a long way with fans. It seems the division between drivers could be causing a division within leadership and who knows, possibly each side of the garage.

Certainly something the team needs to get on top of an stay out front of so let’s see what unfolds over the next few days shall we? Perhaps it’s all “total Bulls**t” as Lauda is want to say.

Hat Tip: James Allen

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Paul KieferJr

Uh, oh. I smell the egos burning. Here comes the implosion.

Johnpierre Rivera

we can only hope. ;-)

mini696

Fairly typical of Lewis (and most drivers to be honest). It’s part of the current racing that I hate. Passive-aggressive undermining of your team and team-mates is just not on. Saying that, most of the drivers these days do it, and most of them are full of BS.
They are the true epitome of the smiling assassin. Lewis for some reason feels the need to say “every race is a win from now on”? No Lewis, you lost, admit it, move on.
Tell us what you are thinking, and leave the company PR crap for other people.

yoshif8tures

Yes this passive aggressiveness is getting a bit too much. Just Coke out and say what you mean Lewis rather than making cheap shots. This is also coming from the liar who said he does his talking in track. It seems he does most of it outside the car and claiming innocence.
Whilst I’m not a Rosberg fan, I hope he ups his game next season and does his talking on track and beats this douche.

Maybe you need to rename the award to the Lewis Hamilton bravado award Todd?

Johnpierre Rivera

Great work Todd…

ikewiref1

Those that love Lewis for his ruthless maneuvers and style to go for the win have also to deal with a guy that knows that everyone ELSE knows he’s driver number 1 at Mercedes. Yes, LH is now a 3-times World Champion, hangs with A-list celebs, and lives in the Twittersphere (and has his own jingle on this blog!). But given his blue collar background to get where he is now, I cringed hearing him politely trash the team that has powered him to back-to-back titles and a winning Nico after such a thrilling weekend at the Mexican GP. Cue… Read more »

Negative Camber

Well, I have some leeway with Lewis. I think he’s just winding Nico up and perhaps the comments inside the team and things Nico may or may not have said have Lewis perturbed. Who knows? I suspect there’s blame enough to go around on this one. I kind of feel like it’s a moot point though for Lewis, why even get involved at this point? He really doesn’t have anything to prove by belittling Nico…I think two titles says enough. :) It is interesting that Niki and Toto seem to be at odds though.

Paul KieferJr

There are people who like to do that just for grins. Hamilton may be one of them.

Patrick Chapman

I am not sure that it is as simple as that Paul. I have a suspicion that this highlights a bit of insecurity on Lewis’s behalf. I could be wrong but it seems that when things don’t go to plan for Lewis he appears to get a bit of a chip on his shoulder and acts a bii churlish. I find my own beliefs a bit surprising even to myself as he is undoubtedly at least as good as the best out their. This possible character flaw was pointed out to me some time ago by a good friend of… Read more »

Paul KieferJr

Okay, I’ll buy that. So, how do we…or them….or does he….correct this issue?

Patrick Chapman

From my personal point of view, I don’t see that any form of correction is required. The different personalities and characters are what makes these drivers interesting for me and I enjoy the interaction between them. It would be quite boring if all the drivers were the same and constantly well behaved so the interaction between them adds a bit of spice for me. Lewis is who and what he is and that seems to be constantly evolving and I honestly wouldn’t try and change him or any of the other drivers for that matter. It’s like watching an unscripted… Read more »

Shocks&Awe

Ships sailed on that one I’d say. To correct that, you have to be willing to look at yourself and be honest with yourself. Lewis has the prestige and money to insulate himself for life. If he were the type to do it on his own, I’d say he’d have done it by now. So it would take some drastic outside event to make him suddenly become introspective.

Coji

Out of curiosity, what did your friend cite for his conclusion? These comments? His reaction to losing?

Patrick Chapman

@Coji5gt:disqus I’m sorry but I don’t fully understand your question. These were just opinions and I don’t think that they need citations. And she’s a her not a him.

Coji

It just means that i would like to know what she said was the reason/basis/opinion for her to arrive at the statement that he has low self-esteem.

Patrick Chapman

I understand now. Sorry. Firstly please know that she is as big a motor racing fan as most of us and often I have a group of friends over on raceday to watch with me on my rediculously big screen TV and she is often there so she has a good grounding for her opinions. This current conversation started between us when he showed a lack of respect at the Queens luncheon and then pitched up at Wimbledon wearing the incorrect attire despite being supplied beforehand with all the documentation on what the correct decorum is with the Queen and… Read more »

BasCB

In Nico’s place I would take it as an endorsement that Lewis even feels the need to bother himself with the mind game! I think the comments about how the team is playing nice to Nico were made shortly after the race, probably before the team could even tell him that they called in a reluctant Rosberg for exactly the same reasons as Hamilton – to limit risks, not for any immediate need. Hamilton clearly thought that Rosberg needed to come in and he was upset he couldn’t play out his perceived tyre advantage, when in reality Rosbergs tyres were… Read more »

Johnpierre Rivera

you know I have wrote several post saying things like Lewis has matured, has found his focus and I am little confused why Lewis would want to, as you say bring on the criticism that undoubtedly he will receive. But like I have also written as well, weather it is Alonso, Vettel or Hamilton they all have moments similar to these. these guys are in a league of their own, but then again all the greats usually are… They all share this behavior that sets them apart… what is interesting is that Clark, Hill, Stewart all the drivers from that… Read more »

Patrick Chapman

I might be inclined to go with James Hunt on that one.

Shocks&Awe

I would argue, as others have, that Senna was the real turning point from Gentleman Champion to Killer-instinct Champion. Though off the track, Senna really was a gentleman. On the track though he showed a ruthlessness that had never really been seen before. On the other hand, it could just be a sign of the times…

David

Just goes to show how difficult it is to have 2 drivers vie for the title at one team. I think Schumacher was so dominant because everyone at the team was behind him. Although it is probably not possible to get a good driver to accept the best he can do is #2.

David

I can see the team going the extra mile with Nico to make nice, how many times has Nico had car trouble vs Lewis. I’m sure Nico just wants the same kind of reliability and level playing field against Lewis.

SpeedoReido

As I wrote yesterday, IMHO Nico was gifted that race. Lewis’ tires did not need to be changed at the end of the race. They could have gone the distance, again IMHO. We’ve all seen it before. I immediately had that thought when they made that sketchy call. No, they are coddling Nico, at least for one race. Mercedes sees a much bigger picture than the drivers see. Keeping morale high is an important component of every successful endevour.

Negative Camber

I was wondering the same. I have read a couple of interesting pieces, one by Mr. Allen, where they unpack the strategy and they came to a different conclusion than you did. I was watching the race and wondered at the time, but when the SC came out, I then felt like it wouldn’t have worked. Interesting nonetheless.

Coji

In the F1 Show, I believe they said Perez went more than 50 laps on a set. While this doesn’t account for the driving styles and wear at the time Hamilton pitted, it means the tires could’ve lasted that long with the correct approach.

Samouri

If Lewis wouldn’t have stopped, and won the race. Nico’s head would have exploded.

SpeedoReido

You’ve got that right. I think Lewis realized what was going on pretty quickly. He started to protest the stop, and you could hear him back off when he had a moment to digest it. I’d go as far as to say his car may not have been equal that day. As I said, the Team has their eye on the big (money) picture. It seemed scripted to me. But who am I but a lowly fan?!

Samouri

Who seems to have a lot of gray matter between your ears.

peterriva

Excallent piece.
Humility… A little less arrogant Lauda and a little more Sterling Moss might serve Lewis better in the long term… Real life and longevity. As it is, if he stops winning, does anyone actally like him?

yoshif8tures

I like him when he’s off racing wheel to wheel, not so much when he’s out of the car.

228929292AABBB

I think this is a very well written piece. It gets at what seems at first a contradiction – these guys who have accomplished so much still act so insecure and needy. Maybe their insatiable need for approval and validation is what drove them to these heights in the first place, I don’t know. Is it an irony that Hope Solo is the best soccer goalie in the world and a violent nut, or does that make perfect sense? The only thing I am sure of is managing one of these stables full of strong personalities must be really tricky.… Read more »

Mike S

Honestly i have no idea why Lewis would even bother, except for what Todd said…I think much like car development, the pysc development for 2016 is already here. The head-games are not much of Foreigner (music pun) within this camp for sure, but i know they would exist at some level with all teams. Personally being in work-related power-game meetings with this kinda crap going on is draining for me…but then again, if one lives in Monaco and has a personal jet to get you there… I guess i could learn to adapt.

Peter Aletras

I was looking through the service manual for my wife’s Mercedes……when I noticed that every 2 in the entire book was replaced with the word ‘nico’. It seems that for Mercedes, nico = 2.