Let’s blame Nico or radio ban for Lewis’s Baku blunder

Let’s be clear straight up front, if you’ve listened to our podcast or read our website, it doesn’t take you long to figure out that I have always been a Ferrari fan and at the end of the day, sure, I like it when they do well but in my defense, I have always tried to approach Formula 1 teams and drivers with no bias. Sure, I have a soft spot for Ferrari but I love McLaren and their engineering brilliance and Sauber for their long, underdog life in F1 or Force India and what they achieve despite a fugitive owner and even Mercedes for their punishingly good form over the last three years. I do like them all, even Manor, Haas, Renault, Williams and Mr. Ecclestone.

Having said that, I am really starting to get rubbed the wrong way with the over the top Lewis Hamilton fanboy-ism of the press, F1, the international media and fans—not to mention the #TeamLH mobocracy on the internet.

When Lewis does well, you know it. He’s crowing about it as he should and feeling great. When he doesn’t do well, you know about it. He’s bemoaning all sorts of things and has the longest face on the grid and that’s perfectly fine by me. I would hope the driver I hired is emotionally engaged with his job and to me it’s perfectly normal for a driver to show joy, rage, frustration and disappointment. It’s all good, I’ve no issue with that and Lewis doesn’t either so we’re good.

What I do get a little salty over is the F1 press engaging in Lewis apologetics along with the team (Mercedes) and the fans in what I can only call a clear and obvious bias toward Lewis Hamilton at the expense of Nico Rosberg. I’m not English or German and I have no knife in the fight on who wins the title. I take both of them for the way they are. Nico and his too-polished PR sponsor speak which is as plain as it can be no matter what the situation and never having an opinion that deviates from what F1 is trying to promote whether he likes it or not. Lewis with his woe-is-me act and then false, forced and OTT elation and light-switch personality which is either on or off but rarely in between. Nico is the golden boy and Lewis the poor kid from a couch in Stevenage turned globe-trotting millionaire social media icon. Whatever, none of that bothers or sways me one way or another. That’s just who they are and that’s all part of their quirky personalities—we all have them.

No, it’s not the driver façade I’m speaking of, it is the outrageous talking points and attempted manipulation of the narrative after a race in which Lewis doesn’t do well. Take Baku for example.

Lewis had an engine setting that was wrong and so did Nico—we would find out from Niki Lauda after the race—and now that we knew both had the same issue, Toto Wolff had to try and walk it back a bit so as not to make Lewis look incompetent. He soft served the situation on Sky sports. F1 press were tweeting and sending out messages saying that actually Nico’s issue was self-inflicted and therefore cured quickly as he knew what he did but poor Lewis was put upon by the team as he did nothing and the car simply had the wrong setting and it would be nearly impossible to figure it out but that tenacious Lewis managed to get it done in the end. Whatever.

A few weeks ago, Spain to be exact, Nico had his Power Unit in the wrong engine setting and boy how he was the butt of everyone’s jokes with calls of idiocy and how he ruined Lewis’s race yadda, yadda, yadda. The #TeamLH was near meltdown over the situation online. Sky Sports had their video replays showing how Nico had the switch in the wrong position and then showed Lewis’s in the right position and commented that the driver really needs to get himself sorted with the right settings. Not this time, no…this time in Baku the complexity of the systems are so great and there is no way a driver can calculate the millions of permutations needed to correct such a complex machine and Nico caused his issue so it was easy to turn the knob back but poor Lewis’s car just decided to be in the wrong setting.

Then the immediate narrative was all focused on the radio ban and that is what Sky Sports asked every driver in the post-race interviews. Most of whom had no radio ban issues during the race that compromised their results and were surprised to be asked that question. Ricciardo was caught off guard as were most of the drivers. Sure, many of them don’t like it but Max Verstappen said you just need to do your homework…atta boy Max!!

So Lewis has an issue and Sky Sports sets about asking every driver a leading question about how draconian the radio ban is. Never mind it’s been this way since Australia and it’s the same for everyone. The race was rather boring so we needed a hot talking point and as Lewis did bad, we found the scapegoat…the radio ban!

The #TeamLH fans are calling conspiracy again as the team said Nico had the same setting issue just “like the BS brake issues he was supposed to have had like Lewis”. Seriously? The F1 press have doubled down now and ran stories in which Lewis says the radio ban is “Dangerous”. That’s right, dangerous as he was looking at his steering wheel too much at speed and not watching the road.

“Dangerous. I am just looking at my steering wheel for a large portion of the lap – all the way down the straight just looking at my wheel.

“All they can tell me is there is a switch error, wrong switch position, so I am looking at every single switch thinking, am I being an idiot here? Have I done something wrong? I hadn’t.

“I looked time and time again, going through all the different switch positions and there was nothing that looked irregular.”

So what did Lewis do to fix the problem?

“They said it will work itself out… and it did with eight laps to go,” he said. “I didn’t know what the problem was.

“I didn’t know if I had done anything to make the engine not work. The team started with something switched on, so I had it from the beginning.

“I disabled something and it didn’t change anything, I put it back on, it didn’t change anything. In the end I switched it off again, and the engine power came back 10 laps after that, my nine laps to go, so I turned the engine down after that.”

If you contrast that with what Nico Rosberg experienced:

“It wasn’t easy because of the clampdown on radio communication, so they couldn’t tell us specifically what it was,” explained Rosberg.

“But I felt the issue out on track with the engine being down on power, so I looked at my steering wheel and figured that ‘it must be that one, so take it off’ and it was working fine afterwards.”

When asked if it was obvious what he had to do, he said: “Not obvious at all. It was just, I had to think about it because I feel it.

“They said it was a problem with the mode you are in, but which mode? There are so many modes. So I thought about it and figured that that was the one. [It was] just putting together the feeling and what they [the switches] do.”

Nico realized what it was and Lewis wasn’t sure. Seems pretty straightforward to me but not for the press. You see, I am starting to feel patronized and if I really listen to conspiracy theorists, I get the sense that F1, Mercedes and Lewis don’t like it when he isn’t winning. He’s the hottest ticket in F1 and the biggest profile outside of F1 and they like that for the brand Mercedes and the brand F1. I understand that and it does carry weight but in the end, it carries little weight when you treat other drivers without parity, equity and integrity.

Unfortunately for you, dear reader, I don’t think Lewis is bigger than F1. I don’t think any driver is nor, for that fact, is any team—except maybe Ferrari but then you’d expect me to say that right? I like Lewis as a driver a lot. Love his aggression and that’s what I like when Nico shows that side of himself but when he does it, it’s cry foul time. It’s unfair, dangerous, race-ending for Lewis and not good for the sport. I find that notion very base behavior.

I understand the importance of owning the message and setting the narrative in this day of online media but if this is the way we’re going to go, then bring on Max Verstappen because I’m growing weary of blaming Nico each time he gets aggressive or Lewis has a bad day. What’s one of the first videos Sky Sports posts after the race? Not the podium ceremony but a video of when Nico Rosberg pulled his headset connector out of his race suit and it popped out and hit him in the eye. Guffaw!! Hardy har! What a dope! That’s downright rude folks.

Nico doesn’t deserve that kind of treatment regardless of how nice or cool he is to the press. Nico solved his issue in Baku because he kind of caused it or switched something out of pure luck but poor Lewis was flummoxed and no human could have solved that and that’s why the evil entity for Baku was this draconian, dangerous, outrageous radio ban! Seriously? You’re the people that wanted the radio ban in the first place because you were bemoaning the fact that the drivers were being too coached every lap.

Before you accuse me of being a big Nico fan, that’s not the case. If pressed, I happen to like Ricciardo, Vettel, Perez, Button, Alonso, Max, Wehrlein, and Ericsson (admittedly just to get under Paul Charsley’s skin) quite a bit. Nico is a really good driver and so too is Lewis. I have no dog in the hunt here but I can clearly see it for what it is and if I were Nico, I wouldn’t renew my contract at Mercedes. I would go to Ferrari, McLaren, Renault or Williams if possible.

Quotes Hat Tip: Motorsport

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Paul KieferJr

…or we can all admit that Hamilton is just as human as the rest of us.

Andreas

…which was exactly what Damon Hill said about all of this. It just shows he’s human.

Shocks&Awe

That’s anti-Lewis nonsense. Hamilton is waaaay more human than the rest of you lot. #TeamLH! #TeamLH! #TeamLH!

Paul KieferJr

Not so fast, dude. I’ve got him on my fantasy team. ;-)

ETM

It’s called cognitive dissonance. They think Lewis really is infallible therefore they have to find a scapegoat excuse in order to maintain their belief.

Negative Camber

Could be but unless they watched a different career than I did, Lewis is very fallible indeed. Just like all the other drivers. His weekend unraveled on Saturday showing that he is capable of making mistakes but immediately the press were offering up the sun as the culprit in his clouting the wall. It couldn’t be that he simply misjudged the apex which is what happened.

Clayton Brown

I thought his qualifying was pretty mistake-filled. I counted at least 5 tire lock-ups. Just not his weekend.

Fred Talmadge

So basically you are sayting the press shouldn’t take sides. I agree.

Negative Camber

In a sense, yes. I understand that they, like me, have favorites etc but when I view a race, I try to look at it from a standpoint that slagging off Lewis as a dolt because he couldn’t figure his setting out is really crass, wrong and bone-headed of me (which people did to Nico in Spain). I don’t know everything that was going on, only Merc does, so it would be wrong. I also think blaming the radio ban or suggesting that Nico caused his own issue and making apologies for why Lewis couldn’t get it sorted is using… Read more »

Clayton Brown

And I might add, the over-the-top fanatic support kind of makes me (personally) like him a little less. He seems like a cool guy, great racer – yet, I’m so tired of hearing about how nothing is his fault and the world is out to get him … that I kind of take it out on him. I can’t help but think he endorses this behavior. He could speak up.

jakobusvdl

Well Tod (aka Neggy C), you’ve found the way to increase the volume of traffic to F1B, but at some risk to the standard of comments (mostly my drivel, sorry).
Who knew that pointing out bias was such strong evidence of an opposite bias?
Well its good to see that your evident Nico-mania has been clearly exposed.
Shame on you trying to pretend that you respect all the drivers, and teams

jakobusvdl

Do you think of Sky F1 as ‘the press’? In my mind, the role of ‘the press’ (mainstream journalists) would be straight up and unbiased reporting of the events of an F1 race. What I’d like to have is TV F1 coverage the special interest motorsports journalists (basically F1B, or Motorsport magazine TV), that could give balanced coverage of races as well as insight into the technical, organisational, financial and political aspects of the whole of F1, Teams, Engineers, the FIA, FOM, circuit owners, etc etc. Instead we get ‘Nationalistic tabloid journalism’ possibly the lowest common denominator of all. Tod,… Read more »

Sophia Aragon

This is the F1 we were forced to buy in ’07. Since then, nothing but heroes and zeroes. F1 is another TV drama not a competition.

bobmendon

Nico would make a good partner for Vettel.

jakobusvdl

Yep, it would be good to see two German drivers in the Mercedes next year ;-)

MIE

I still think of Rosberg as Finnish…

jakobusvdl

Or a Monacan?
Perhaps this year he will be truly Finish, because as they used to say in Rallying ‘to finish first, first you must be Finish’ :-)

jcn115

NC, totally agree with your post. I love the SkyF1 broadcast because their coverage is second to none, but it gets in my nerves Lewis love fest. I get it, it is a British broadcaster and Lewis is British, but last year every commentator at SkyF1 was critical with the amount of communication between the driver and pitwall which made the drivers more like monkeys hitting switches. Martin Brundle, Damon Hill and company wanted to limit the communications and make it more the driver than the engineer telling the driver. They got what they wanted and now that the radio… Read more »

Shocks&Awe

To be fair, the SkyF1 commentators didn’t get what they wanted. They got a whole lot more than they bargained for. As usual F1 went about solving the problem by solving other problems that didn’t need to be solved. Or something.

Negative Camber

this issue in Baku over De-Rate Gate will probably get a new regulation regarding fuel flow or a demand for longer white lines on pit entry…problem solved. ;)

Shocks&Awe

Now, now, let’s be a little realistic, NC. Clearly this calls for Digital Pit Boards to allow longer messages to be communicated without the use of radio (which, let’s face it, is an obsolete technology). They’ll have to made of carbon fiber components to keep the weight down, and require bespoke AI programming, so each one will probably cost a few million to develop. And they’ll tweak the regs each year to ensure a DPB development war.

jiji the cat

Couldn’t agree more.

Shaolin

Guys, you are listening /reading the English speaking media, you do realize it is all British based, and hardly a surprise they lean heavily to the British champion. I remember when I lived in Spain you would have though Fernando was the only driver in the race. It is a waste of energy to complain about something that is obviously going to be the case. If it really bothers, you could try finding media sources that are not British in origin. OtherwiseOtherwise, realize why this happens, and just filter this out. Just like when you watch fox news, you know… Read more »

Roger Flerity

Fox is biased? I’m SHOCKED I tell you, SHOCKED!

jakobusvdl

They maybe English speaking and UK based, but SKY F1 coverage is shown internationally (and even here in New Zealand where people could care less about Poms).
I’m sick of their Hamilton biased coverage.
There are 11 teams, 22 drivers, probably over 6000 people involved in the teams.
There should be such a rich variety of stories to cover from amongst that, and we get increasingly simple minded sycophantic rubbish, its hardly worth the money.
Time for a trip to the Sky F1 website to moan at them, most of the F1B community already get it.

J Jones

Pretty much the same here Jako, we ‘pom’s’ don’t really give a monkeys about people in the New Zealand either, so it kinda evens itself out doesn’t it :-) have a great day.

jakobusvdl

And also according to Wikipedia, while in NZ, Aussie, and S.A, ‘pom’ is used as a ‘playful or affectionate term’, some British people regard it as ‘offensive’.
Looks like they got that right, ae Mr Jones ;-)

J Jones

Well not really Jako that’s why I said ‘have a great day’, or didn’t you see that?

MIE

Isn’t it POHM (Prisoner Of His/Her Majesty) & not POM?

Sorry.

jakobusvdl

Cheers MIE,
According to Wikipedia, neither that nor ‘Prisoner of Mother England’. Apparently the nickname comes from the Aussies, because ‘peely wally’ imports turned as red a pomegranates in the sun.
Living and learning :-)

Roger Flerity

Good points. The myth of an impartial press only really applies to…. well, nothing actually. Political press has always been skewed and driven by hidden agendas. Motor sports press is frequently tainted by nationalist loyalties that manifest in F1 as the elevation of British drivers and denigration of German drivers. It is what it is, as you note.

Dennis Williams

I honestly do not believe Lewis is anything special. He seems to shine when he is in the best car, but seems to be very mediocre if he needs to pull out anything special to get the job done. He certainly isn’t up there with the greats in my very humble opinion, but then again I was around to watch the golden era of the 80s and 90s. F1 has been steadily declining ever since.

Tim C.

Brilliant post NC . . . brilliant! This is the type of item that really makes me question why I continue to watch F1. In some ways this reminds me of the politicians in Washington DC and how they act . . . making excuses and never taking responsibility.

Sid

Totally agreed. It wasn’t just the race. Right after Qualy, Sky sports commentators were adamant that it was the Sun blinding his eyes that caused poor Lewis to crash. They even slowed it down on Skypad to show how the Sun caught his face right at the wrong time! OMG the sun is the same for everyone. It isn’t gonna selectively blind Lewis and hide behind a cloud when everyone else passes. The sheer amount of fanaticism shown towards Lewis both baffles and annoys me in equal measure. Word of note, don’t set foot on the Mercedes F1 facebook page… Read more »

Meine Postma

Totally agree. Lewis just was nog good enough on this new track.

Martin Brundle once said they try to be impartial, but they are far from impartial where Lewis is concerned.

And Johnny Herbert I cannot take seriously with his superfluous interviews and not thought through opinions (see his opinion that Alonso is not motivated anymore and should retire, an opinion even Martin Brundle rejected on air).

McSerb

Ferrari fan ? Strange, because one would conclude this was written by a Rosberg fan or Hamilton hater. Definitely not by someone who is neutral on the matter. Negative Camber “does not believe in conspiracy theories” but writes : “I have no dog in the hunt here but I can clearly see it for what it is and if I were Nico, I wouldn’t renew my contract at Mercedes. I would go to Ferrari, McLaren, Renault or Williams if possible.” Poor job at covering your true colors and a lot worse advice to Rosberg (as a McLaren fan I should… Read more »

jcn115

Let me guess, you are a Lewis fan

Tim C

Me thinks this response may have crossed the “decorum & civility” line. No more personal attacks please.

jakobusvdl

Are you new to F1B?
Check out the 470+ podcasts if you’re in any doubt where Negative Camber’s loyalties lie, or if you doubt the honesty of his opinion.
Better yet, just go to a Hamilton fanboy site you’ll find it more to your tastes.

Negative Camber

I really like when new folks stop by the site or start listening to the podcast but when new folks stop by and accuse me of lying, well, that’s the kind of folks that can redouble their efforts to not stop by. You don’t know me, have no idea what my likes and dislikes are and I assume you haven’t listened to any of the podcasts since 2005. If you had, you would understand that I am not lying nor am i a big Nico fanboy. It takes a certain amount of self righteousness to come into someones website, present… Read more »

McSerb

YOUR website ? Oooops, sorry for invading. All right then, knock yourself out. As for the rest you would do well to read your article again, read my comment on it, look up the definition of consistency and if you still see no reason for my reaction then visit a good shrink. Any Ferrari fan who loves McLaren should make those visits on a weekly basis. Good bye.

Negative Camber

Ah, you maintain that one cannot be a Ferrari fan and like McLaren and that’s the premise of your insinuating I am in need of professional help? Seriously? I doubt I am alone in being able to like both teams or many teams on the grid. I’ve worked with a few of them and like many of them. All good folks trying very hard.

Roggie