Merc had those post-Austin talks with Lewis and Nico

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Reading the comments from Toto Wolff, it seems that regardless of if Lewis Hamilton felt they needed to have a post-Austin chat or not, the team did talk about the incident and Mercedes has made their point clear:

“They were side-by-side, with maybe even Nico having a tiny advantage on the outside. It was hard racing.

“Do I want to see cars touching? No, I don’t want to see that.

“How many pages of rules do we need to come up with to cover every situation?

“We have had the conversation about Turn 1.

“It doesn’t need to be dragged out in the media because I’m not the headmaster.

“They are the two best drivers out there. At a certain stage, responsibility needs to be in their hands.

“Sometimes it’s harder, sometimes it’s trickier for us, but the rule remains the same – we don’t need controversy in team, we don’t need tension.

“We’ve 1200 people who are the best in the world in this business, and everyone needs to understand that.”

Fair enough, if I were Toto, I wouldn’t want my cars hitting each other as well. I would want both cars to make it to the end of the race in a 1, 2 position. They’ve enjoyed that in 2014 and so far in 2015 quite often. However, I do find his choice of words interesting when he says that Nico had a “tiny” advantage. Regardless of how tiny it was, it was still an advantage and this is as harsh as Wolff is willing to be with Lewis Hamilton. Fair enough, he’s just delivered two titles for you and who can blame him?

Fact is, this isn’t the treatment the team have given Nico in Spa or Monaco and once again, who can blame them? They are winning with one of the grid’s best drivers. This does, however, shed light on Nico’s position within the team in my mind.

Pole in Anger

One of the headlines, I think it may have been Motorsport, suggested that Nico denied having secured pole in Mexico out of anger. It’s always fun to talk about rivalries and when things get heated in F1, there’s lots to  discuss but I’m not sure I can blame Nico for not being happy with his situation nor can I blame Lewis who isn’t there to worry about Nico’s feelings. That’s something Nico has to wrestle to the ground, not Lewis.

Lewis has his feet on the desk at Mercedes and Nico, as I have argued several times before, is going to have to get more Lewis-esque if he has any chance of turning the tables. This means aggressive racing like he showed at Spa in 2014 and wider elbows like Lewis gave him in Austin. If anything happens between the two, it will make the team unhappy but if he’s there to win, he shouldn’t worry about that unless he’s fine playing the Barrichello role for the Silver Arrows

Lewis isn’t interested in that role. He wasn’t at McLaren either. That’s what I like about Lewis and what I liked about Senna and Schumacher as well as Vettel and Alonso. Nico is placing the team above his own personal goals and that’s perfectly fine if you are trying to have a long career there but I suggest that he could be short for the world at Merc if Max Verstappen comes knocking.

I like both drivers a lot but feel Nico is going to have to break a few suspensions in order to get on top of this situation because we know Lewis isn’t lifting. Lewis isn’t yielding in turn 1 and nor would I expect him to. At this point, I don’t think the team expect him to either but I wonder if they expect Nico to…that’s the big IF in this equation.

A veteran F1 journalist told me in Austin that once you accept being shoved around and fear what the team might think is the moment you’ve accepted the role of second in the team. You’ve accepted being the Barrichello for Mercedes. I tend to agree with him. We’ve seen Felipe Massa in that role but at Williams he is doing a damn fine job of getting out of that role and it may take a new team for Nico to do that same.

So what will happen in Mexico at turn 1? Wolff explains:

“With Turn 1, it’s always tricky when it is so close between team-mates and racing cars in general,” said Wolff.

“We want to see them race, and not pre-agree before the race has even started as to who goes first through the corner and who goes second.

“It makes the whole thing less exciting.

“We continue to support them in racing hard and optimising the result, but of course for the team it’s very important we have no controversy.

“If the cars collide, that’s causing controversy, and if its getting a tiny bit hard, it’s causing controversy as well.

“But there is no need to discuss it again. We’ve had conversations regularly, we’ve had discussions after Austin.

“They are both absolutely aware of the situation.”

Hat Tip: Autosport

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Paul KieferJr

On the other side of the coin…..remember Spa. Were I to believe that I were sufficiently aggressive enough, I might be inclined to physically shove Hamilton into the moat (reminds me of Vettel vs. Webber round 1). It may be that there’s going to be controversy no matter what we do, and the real controversy is that there are two alpha males that belong on two separate teams, and keeping them together is what’s causing the issue. Ergo, as much as we’d like to avoid this, it may have to take a purposeful ramming and a bit of a fist… Read more »

Esteban Muller

You bring up Spa and I think it’s an entirely different situation, in Austin Lewis didn’t cause Nico the race, he didn’t take Nico out, no tires were cut. And then you go and advocate Nick taking Lewis out, which is going to lead to more reprimands, and more accusations of favoritism for Lewis. Lewis knows how to race hard without taking the other driver out, he knows how to stomp authority without hurting the other car, Nico needs to learn this.

Paul KieferJr

I never said I wanted it to happen. I only said that it was going to happen. What I want and what actually happens are usually two different things.

Release The Beast

I am one of those who believe that Lewis did push Nico wide in Austin and I am also one of those who do not see a problem with what he did. I really think that what is lost in all of these is the difference in racecraft and composure between the two drivers whom I really believe are allowed to race each other in the Silver Arrows. Nico has actually done similar aggressives moves with Lewis, in fact, just as recently as turn 2 in Sochi. It’s part of racing. The difference is that Lewis gave the corner up… Read more »

DChrls

I wonder if Hamilton’s second pit stop in Mexico, where the team basically ordered Lewis to pit, might have been punishment for “Austin turn 1”. A way for the team to let Nico know the team supports him too.

Mike S

I think it is fine that Lewis pushes his way to the front, if Seb does, if Senna or Prost did…because its shifted now, the ‘gentleman’s vintage car track etiquette’ has not existed, nor do i feel it should exist in F1. We don’t want to see a demolition derby and reckless behavior, most assuredly. These are/should be the best pilots in the world…well except for, you know. But he is actually doing better now so my point holds. Drivers at this level can push around and not incur damage…Lewis and Nico at Bahrain in 2014, Jenson and Alonso at… Read more »

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