Merc answers single-strategist criticism

It my seem strange to only have one strategist for two drivers. It’s a bit like trying to play chess with yourself at some level but that’s exactly what Mercedes AMG Petronas has and it came to light more profoundly in the Brazilian Grand Prix last weekend.

It seems that fans were simply perplexed that this is the case and found it to be detrimental to Lewis Hamilton’s chances of winning as he was on the same strategy as race leader and teammate Nico Rosberg.

The team chose to cover Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel on his 3-stop strategy with both of their drivers and this relegated Lewis to second place with no alternative strategy to help beat his teammate.

Fans, including some F1 pundits like Damon Hill, were very vocal about the arrangement but as I’ve pointed out, it’s been this way all year long and no one was complaining that Nico’s strategies were samey samey as Lewis’s for the first 18 races of the season.

The criticism has been answered by the effervescent Toto Wolff when asked if he understood how fans were reacting:

“As a fan I can understand, absolutely,” said Wolff.

“But there are various escalations. We could have done it like teams in the past, having a clear number one and number two, and the number two wouldn’t even come close to the other one.

“We’ve changed that, and sometimes it is difficult for us to manage, letting the two fight with each other.

“Now you could say ‘let’s take it one step further’ and let the strategists play against each other, but this is not where we want to head.

“Controversy within the team is detrimental. We have kept the team together, not only the drivers, but also the travelling team in the garage and in Brackley and Brixworth because the team comes first.

“So from a fan’s standpoint, I can understand, but from a team’s standpoint I have a boring answer that we are not going to change.”

So, there you have it. The team wins. You happy now?


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Lewis cries when it doesn’t go his way, Nico cries when it doesn’t go his.
But in the end it is best for Merc, and fair for both drivers.

Junipero Mariano

To coin your phrase, it isn’t Mercedes job to play wet nurse to Lewis if he’s losing to Nico. When I heard Paul’s comment about Merc shifting their strategy to cover Ferrari, it all clicked for me. Having one strategist makes sense. Their aim is to score as many 1-2’s as possible. It’s the straightest path to the Constructor’s championship, and obviously one of their drivers is bound to win the championship as well. This is why the Lewis & Nico show works well enough. One of them gets in front while the other drives hard to pass him, but… Read more »

Patrick Chapman

I think Mercedes expected tough competition at Malaysia because of the heat and they didn’t consider it enough to worry about. Hungary less so but again what is two races out of 20? Certainly not enough to change the way they are currently doing things from a strategy management perspective. And Monaco, that was just confusing because Lewis got invloved and should have just stayed out like he was originally told to. When we see a major change in the Mercedes strategy management and philosophy, then we will know that they are really concerned about the competition and then the… Read more »

Patrick Chapman

While you have a dominant team that is capable of scoring one/two’s at the majority of races then a one strategy philosophy makes perfect sense and let the drivers sort it out between themselves with the only proviso that they are not allowed to take each other out. Also this is Paddy Lowe’s preferred strategy. However, if we ever get to the stage where another team equal’s them or becomes dominant then they will have to rethink their strategy as a single strategy for two cars will no longer be the most effective way of collecting the most amount of… Read more »


I think two things about this – one I completely agree and Merc are trying to get 1-2s and the constructors, and if they do that one of the cars will also be the driver’s champ, and as Paul noted a couple weeks ago both these guys are being paid to drive, they’re not paying to drive. So you have a job, and your boss defines the job for reasons other than your personal satisfaction, grow up and do your job or take your millions to Manor and call your own shots driving there. two think back to when these… Read more »

Patrick Chapman

Completely agree. What I am hoping for soon is that Mercedes have to formulate their strategy to counter the attack from another team. Then they will probably have to change their strategy during the race in order to offset what the other team is up to. This means that they will have to learn to think on their feet, not something that they have been very good at recently and of course, add in the suggestions and demands from Lewis during the race and we could have a real circus. There may be some entertainment on the horizon. I’m looking… Read more »


Agreed! In the one or two races they were pressured, they looked out of practice at it. Let’s see some more of that!

Paul KieferJr

Personally, I’m surprised that it’s one crew, one team for two drivers, but that’s just my NASCAR side talking.


I could refer you to a psychiatrist who specializes in Multiple Personality Disorder, to help you get rid of that pesky NASCAR personality…

I jest, I jest! I jest couldn’t resist… ;-)

Big Orange Paul

I’m a bit late to the party here, but it seems to me that since Lewis started looking likely to achieve his 3rd World Championship he has started to believe that he is unbeatable. This, despite Nico putting in better performances in qualifying lately with 5 poles on the trot and dominating the races in Mexico and Brazil. Also, Nico drove all but one corner on one lap better than Lewis in Austin. Unfortunately for Lewis, when he is being beaten fairly and squarely he seems to start searching for conspiracies and subterfuge rather than reflecting on his own performance.… Read more »