Not convinced Lewis was backing Nico up in Hungary

11

It’s perfectly normal that each race weekend there will be a talking point that the fans, teams, drivers or media get lodged on and this week it was the qualifying incident which was rolled along by Lewis Hamilton’s continual mentioning and calls for clarification and even dog-whistling the danger and safety aspect. It was the performance in the race that actually is worthy discussing as the qualifying was a non-incident.

During the race, Lewis Hamilton seemed to slow down in his middle stint and it allowed Nico Rosberg to close within a second of him but as is Formula 1, you can’t follow too closely lest you chew your tires up and this allowed Nico to come under pressure from Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.

While NBCSN’s Will Buxton and others suggested that Hamilton was purposely backing Nico up into the clutches of Red Bull, I wasn’t totally convinced although one could see how it could be possible for sure. This is no indictment of Will’s thoughts but I tend to think Lewis was doing something completely different in Hungary on Sunday.

One of the things about Lewis—and this will shock #TeamLH who continually accuse me of being biased against Lewis—is that he’s become a very savvy driver in terms of tire management and car sympathy. When he was younger, this wasn’t always the case but he knows he has very limited mileage on the remaining power units he has left and while winning would put him in the championship lead, an engine change will ruin his race and there are still 11 races to go. Team boss Toto Wolff may feel that he was managing tires but I tend think think it is the entire package he’s trying to nurse home to a title win which included the tires for the race in 124 degree asphalt conditions. Toto said:

“I don’t think he was backing him up at all. I’m sure he didn’t want to back him up.

“The whole weekend we discussed with them the need to be very cautious on the tyres. When you hear the constant messaging ‘the tyres might not last’, you want to manage them.

“They managed them very well in the first stint on the super-softs, and then we bolted on the softs and we didn’t have any experience on those tyres.

“He [Hamilton] over-managed it probably. He had everything under control, he knew Nico was behind and didn’t realise the train was approaching fast.

“There was a different strategy behind him, so I guess he didn’t have the complete picture. For him it looked OK, that’s why he just took it easy.

“He was really cautious in looking after the tyres, and this is what he said.”

Surely the team have been talking about his need to save engines, manage gearboxes and look after the entire hybrid ecosystem as well as the tires in this race. I think Lewis knows he’s in trouble with engine penalties and he’s trying to manage it.

I could be completely wrong and perhaps Lewis is as nefarious as those who say he was backing Nico up. He is cunning and ruthless when it comes to racing so if it did surface that he was trying to get Nico into a tussle with Ricciardo, I wouldn’t be stunned but it seems to me there’s a bigger issue at hand and that’s the lack of engine changes he has left and the penalties he will surely take before the end of the season which could spell disaster for his title bid.

Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT

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11 Comments on "Not convinced Lewis was backing Nico up in Hungary"

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longshot
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longshot
Yep that’s pretty much what I thought too. Lewis was running his own race & taking care of his car, he wasn’t following some dastardly plan to expose Nico to Ricciardo. Indeed, if Danny made it past Nico he could conceivably attack Lewis which is something that Nico was extremely unlikely to do – better to keep Nico in 2nd as a shield. Regarding the engine penalties, I’ve read that Lewis may opt to install two new engines (and other components) on the one race weekend in order to take all his penalties at once, and then keep those components… Read more »
McSerb
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McSerb
Agree with the first part, there is no way to overtake a fairly competitive car here anyway and if it does happen then it might happen to you too. Absolutely disagree with the second part. If he is going to take a penalty for two new engines then it is pointless and HE is the only Mercedes powered driver who had ANY trouble with those components. Just look at Williams, Force India or even Manor. The problems Hamilton had were not related to wear, the components were a bit faulty and some were redesigned. So, if any of them are… Read more »
Achim
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Achim

I think there is no way of really telling what he was up to. Understandably Lewis is in full protection mode for is engines, so he only does what he has to. The important message from the team was, that they would not allow it to happen and “threaten” him over the radio to pit Nico first if he does not speed up.

And as for the qualifying incident: Looking at the replay of Alonso, I’m surprised that Lewis is not angry at him. That one looked like a driver trying so secure his 7th position on the grid.

jakobusvdl
Guest
jakobusvdl

Wow! That’s a great conspiracy theory Achim. Alonso spun on purpose to keep his quali spot…….and it paid off in the race too.
Got any other non Ham-berg conspiracies? I’d love us to speculate on some stuff that doesn’t involve those pair for a while.

Achim
Guest
Achim

He missed chicane at turn 5/6, so his lap was over and he knew because of drying track everyone else was to improve. And I’m not a race car driver, but to me it looked a bit like a rookie mistake. And Alonso does not do rookie mistakes. Maybe Paul saw it and we get a few insights from him on the podcast … :-)

Andreas
Guest
Andreas

I agree that Lewis probably just didn’t go 100% when he didn’t need to – he needs to protect his engines, after all. And where does one draw the line between “managing your race by going as fast as needed, but not more” and “backing the opposition up”?

Re the Alonso spin in quali, that theory was mentioned in the Sky broadcast, and Martin Brundle said it was a definite possibility. He didn’t say he believed strongly that’s what happened, but he also didn’t call it a foil-hat conspiracy theory…

Joe Mama
Guest
Joe Mama

On Alonso deliberately spinning…possible, but not credible. If he was really trying to hold up the field, he would have drawn it out. As it was, he got back on track quickly enough to minimize the delays behind him, as proven by Rosberg’s pole.

Achim
Guest
Achim
Good point. Yet it was enough to hold off his team-mate who was directly driving behind Lewis. Not that that ever happened before … Fernando holding up his team-mate in a qualifying session in Hungary … :-) Look, I don’t know. It is like with Lewis and backing up Nico into the Red Bulls. It could have been intentional, but Negative Camber makes very good arguments that it probably was not the case. Yet last time Lewis did not get pole because of a yellow, we saw frame by frame analysis of steering angles to figure out why the car… Read more »
Joe Mama
Guest
Joe Mama

Admittedly, it’s amusing to entertain every conceivable plot of one driver dishing an underhand move to another for some gain. In fact, I am sometimes convinced that F1 should sell officially liscensed foil hats…on second thought, that would be evidence of a sense of humor and an admission that some of it is just silly.

Speaking of silly, why is nobody talking about Button being penalized for being told what to do to keep his brakes from completely failing? …especially since he then did indeed immediately proceed to the pit lane?

Achim
Guest
Achim

I might be wrong, but I believe he was penalized for the “do not shift” radio message a bit later, which was given while he was on the track, not in the pitlane. I assume that was deemed similar to Rosbergs “shift through 7th gear” message in Silverstone which got him the 10s penalty. Now that kind of message can only be given while in the pitlane.

Mike
Member
Mike

2 perspectives involving LH’s racecraft…(1) he is savvy and totally balancing his equipment to last as long as possible ala NC and Lewis’ post-interview, ‘I did just enough to win, didn’t need more’. or, (2) he is savvy and tin-foil hat peeps see him backing Nico up a bit to accomplish (1) and force a changed tire strat for Nico.

In the spirit of Oh Brother Where Art Thou, I say… ‘I’m with you fellers’.