Mercedes apology avoids elephant in the room

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A week later and Mercedes has held an all-hands-on-deck meeting regarding the incident between drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. The outcome—if not predictable—was that the team released three press statements in which:

Rosberg apologized to the team, fans and Lewis Hamilton and took blame for the racing incident.

Hamilton accepted the apology and admitted that things got a little out of hand as well as the fact that he feels he can still work with Nico going forward.

Mercedes got to state quite clearly that they are benefitting Formula 1 by letting their drivers race but simply desire that neither of them hit each other in the process and that disciplinary action has been taken within the team—whatever that means.

So there you have it, Mercedes has managed the situation to the point of getting their championship-leading driver to apologize to the world and their other championship-winning driver to tell the world he accepts the apology as well as may have reacted a little too much and the team gets to tell the world they are a beacon of moral fortitude by letting their drivers race hard against each other—with one caveat…don’t hit each other.

This is all great until one of them hits the other in the final races. The question I have is this:

This was, by all precedent in this sport, a racing incident and nothing more. The stakes were high because Lewis lost quite a few points in the process but so did Fernando Alonso in 2012 when Kimi Raikkonen did the very same thing to him and took him out of the Japanese Grand Prix.

One need look no further than Singapore in 2011 to see Lewis Hamilton do the same thing to Ferrari’s Felipe Massa. It happens in Formula 1 and unfortunately the stakes are very high and the competition is simply between one team such is the domination in the sport this year. If this were Nico on Vettel, doubtful anyone would be saying much.

I’m unclear as to why Lewis is admitting mistakes because he did nothing wrong. Sure, he was ticked off and when someone stuck a microphone in his face, he said so but is that a big deal?

Ultimately the one thing the press statements didn’t address was the elephant in the room—deliberate intent. That’s what Lewis implied and he said that Nico admitted it. This was the issue that had fans angry and booing so why not take a moment to clear that up as well? Unless you want to continue the conspiracy but not addressing it so Hamilton fans will say the team didn’t mention it as it was true and Nico’s apology was supposed to make amends for it.

I don’t envy the team and its position but they knew what they were getting in to when the kicked Michael Schumacher to the curb in favor of Hamilton—two very fast and competitive drivers who were on par with each other and most likely battling for the same real estate on the track. They also knew Lewis brings a certain galvanization to the team with the press and fan reaction to any incident involving himself and the rest of the world and they knew he can be a handful in situations like this—see McLaren 2007.

The team seems to be doing its best but you might be wondering if we’re seeing the Ross Brawn vacuum in action here. As I said, it’s my opinion that this didn’t need an apology but the only thing that really merited discussion was the deliberate intent accusation and if it was deliberate, then that’s a whole new conversation but Mercedes chose not to address that.

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