Open Letter to Mercedes

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I’m not really sure why Mercedes felt compelled to address the ridiculous rantings on Twitter and other forms of social media regarding the struggles Lewis Hamilton has had so far in 2016 but they did. They penned an open letter to fans and attempted to offer insight to the Sochi weekend that may explain Lewis’s troubles, the team’s dedication to fixing the issues and for good measure, a story about Nico Rosberg’s troubles that seemed to be dire but still allowed him to win the race and set fastest lap.

I was very disappointed by the press after Sochi when they engaged in a Q&A session with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff asking questions like, “Do you feel you’re letting Lewis down? Have you apologized to Lewis? When will you apologize to Lewis?”. Seriously? You seriously feel compelled to ask these questions of the team? How Wolff kept a straight face and answered those is beyond me.

Now we have the team in either some sort of justification mode or worse, some sort of apologetic reasoning Lewis had troubles and how it was not a conspiracy or their fault. So the mobocracy on social media isn’t happy that Lewis isn’t winning and the team felt compelled to justify their actions?

Lewis knew exactly what he was doing when he dog-whistled the issue of five crew members swapping roles and how he is having trouble now. Lewis said:

“Particularly on my side of the garage they’re definitely having a hard time at the moment. “Since I joined I’ve had a group of guys, then for no particular reason it was swapped. “Those guys have come over and we’ve had some bad experiences, and for sure I can only imagine they are feeling the pressure, and it’s nothing to do with them, they’re doing a fantastic job”.

He had the dumb act going as if he had no clue why the team would move employees to different roles and responsibilities. He knew #TeamLH would pick up on this comment and it would fuel the conspiracy talk about how he gave the team two titles and now they determined it was Nico’s time. He didn’t stop there, he added:

“There are things that I’ve tried to understand and I’ve asked to be informed of what’s going on in the process,” he said. “For example after the last race I didn’t get an email of the report, so I didn’t actually know about that. Later on I got here and they said we should have emailed you. “Next week I’ll get all the information, and if it’s not sent to me, I’ll make sure I’ll get it. “Just because I want to be a part of the process, and there’s a lot of input I can have, and help. Ultimately we’re a team. We win and we lose together, so it’s about us pulling together.”

Perhaps, if you still want to win titles, you’d get your arse over to the factory and spend the next two weeks there involved and getting information and working with the team and in the simulator trying to pound out the challenges you may be having? Just a thought. I know Barbados is nice this time of year and the Festival of Speed at Bushy Park will be fun this week but perhaps you could spend a little time working with the team and perhaps then you wouldn’t be confused as to what they are doing? Just a thought.

I find the entire open letter and mobocracy an embarrassing knock-on effect of how people react to social media. I’m a fan of F1, perhaps more than your average fan, and Mercedes doesn’t owe me an explanation of why Lewis had issues in Sochi. That’s a team issue. I’m not a stakeholder or part of the team and if I didn’t think every person was there doing their very best to win races, I’d think they really had no reason to be in F1.

Mercedes has set themselves up for this, mark my word. Most people usually ignore the silly conspiracy nonsense and outrage culture the mobocracy gins up on social media. They have chosen to engage in it and the tail is now wagging the dog. They have opened themselves up as answerable to the mob and have sunk to new lows in which they’ve taken time out of their program to address some silly accusation in social media circles.

Why would a team of like Mercedes feel compelled to address something like this? It isn’t like the new qualifying format where every F1 fan clearly could see the ridiculous situation and were calling for its removal. This is a group of Lewis fans who are not happy he isn’t winning and are conjuring up reasons for it so they can justify their frustration. One thing Mercedes should know by now is that social media, overwhelmingly, caters to the least common denominator of human behavior and nature and it isn’t pretty. To be honest, it’s become rather tedious, boring and childish to be honest.

When we were young, we often thought that becoming an adult would be a momentous occasion and that the adult world was organized, structured and fit for purpose. Social media has become a tool to prevent that from being a reality. Mercedes should stop slumming in the bowls of dodgy human outrage, mobocracy and mind-numbing ass hattery and start being the F1 team fit for purpose and focused on winning. If Lewis has mechanical issues, then address them and move on.

For Lewis? He needs to stop dog-whistling nefarious conspiracies that are preventing him from winning due to mechanical issues etc. If Mercedes felt compelled to write a letter, it should have been a letter to Lewis saying STFU and get your arse back to the office with a spanner or two and get to work. You can start by getting int he Sim and improving your launch control.

Mercedes Open Letter:

To the fans,

We returned from Russia on Monday with mixed emotions. On the one side, filled with pride at another one-two finish – a rare achievement in the ultra-competitive world of Formula One and something to be savoured but never taken lightly. On the other, pained by a stressful weekend – both behind the wheel, on the pit wall, in the garage, back at the factories and for all of you watching at home.

We have seen a lot of frustration aired online after the mechanical issues experienced in Sochi. We share those same emotions – but for us, it goes far beyond frustration. For those watching at home, a Grand Prix weekend starts on a Thursday morning and ends on Sunday night. A bad result might hurt for a few hours afterwards – but then life moves on. For more than one thousand people at Brackley and Brixworth, however, this is our life. These men and women pour their blood, sweat and tears into racing, day in, day out – often working around the clock and spending weeks at a time away from loved ones. They do so through passion for their work, loyalty to their team-mates and a desire to be the best.

The success we have enjoyed in recent times has not come about by accident. To paraphrase Mr Toto Wolff, we have worked our a**es off to get where we are today – and we have done so as a team. The faces you see at the track are only the tip of the iceberg – but they are a perfect example of just what this represents. They don’t just perform pit-stops together. They travel, share rooms, eat meals, construct garages, build cars, re-build broken cars, kit spares and pack down tonnes of freight – together. They sweat, strain, laugh, cry, shout, scream, celebrate, and commiserate – together. And, as one of our own often says, they win and lose – together. We have the best guys and girls in the world, doing an awesome job, week in and week out – and they do it for the team. Not for one driver or the other – but for each other. There is no ‘A’ or ‘B’ team here. Every single member of the crew has earned their right to be counted among the elite of their trade – and have sacrificed much to do so.

What happened in Sochi showed the world just what a team working in unison is capable of. We were baffled and gutted by the repeat MGU-H failure on Lewis’ car in qualifying. But we kept calm, gathered our thoughts and sprung into action. It took a monumental effort from a significant number of people back in the UK and in Russia to fly spare parts out to the track, fit them to the spare Power Unit by working through the night and make sure Lewis could start from P10 on Sunday without having broken parc fermé. This made Sunday all the more stressful for each of us. But, in the end, we were relieved just to get both cars to the flag.

Shortly after his pit stop, we saw some alarming behaviour from Nico’s MGU-K. We spent a number of laps reassuring him that he had a good gap over Lewis and could ease off before the FIA gave us the all-clear to tell him to switch to a setting that would control the issue. At the wheel, Nico wouldn’t have had any inkling of the stress on the pit-wall. When he put in the fastest lap on the penultimate lap of the race, he was still in that ‘safe’ setting – demonstrating just how much pace the car had last weekend.

Not long after Nico’s issue arose, we started to see the water pressure falling on Lewis’ car. At the time, he was pushing hard to catch Nico and pull away from Kimi – posting several purple lap times in the process. Again, we needed to await confirmation from the FIA of what we could tell him via the radio. After several calls asking him to take it easy, the all-clear came to let him know that he was losing water pressure. With zero – yes, zero! – water pressure remaining for the last 16 laps, the job he did to nurse the car home and still retain second place was truly remarkable. He had to keep the car as cool as possible to avoid damaging the engine whilst also keeping Kimi at a safe distance, which was no mean feat. We genuinely aren’t sure by what miracle the car limped across the line – but we’re certainly not going to complain!

Ultimately, none of this changes the fact that we have not met our own expectations in terms of reliability so far this season. Performance-wise we are right on the money – with a points haul just two shy of what we had managed by the same stage in 2015. But there is work to be done. Our goal is not simply to be fast but bulletproof too. Not just to manage problems but to understand them, fix them and ensure they are not repeated. We are working tirelessly to do just that and will continue to do so every step of the way. But there are no guarantees. This is a mechanical sport, balancing on the knife edge of performance and endurance. You have to push the boundaries and failures can happen.

And then, there’s the bigger picture. Here we sit, picking apart a weekend of various challenges – both on and off track. But look at the result. We should not simply be grateful to see both cars crossed the line but proud and humbled after a team result which quite literally could not have been stronger, thanks to the amazing efforts of the guys and girls in the factories, in the engineering offices, on the pit wall, in the garage and, of course, in the cockpit.

So, four races down, 17 to go. And, from what we’ve seen so far, it’s going to be one heck of a rollercoaster. There will be highs and lows, good day and bad days, successes and defeats. But, through all of this, we stand united as a team – just as we always have. To those who stand with us, we thank you. And to the rest – the haters, the naysayers, the conspirators… if we can convince even half of you of what we really stand for, we’ll consider that a battle well won.

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dude

They might have opened a floodgate for more prodding by the media. I think we can give this ‘scandal’ a name now. How about, switcheroo-gate?

At least the letter wasn’t written in The Horse Whisperer style, if that was the case it would mock all of Lewis fans as imbecile idiots.

Dennis Tirch

I am usually in full throated agreement with your posts, but I see this a bit differently. When you have a hugely popular world champion, and the most recognizable face for the sport, suffer mechanical problems, reliability issues, and racing incidents that scupper the first four races of the new season, it is probably wise to address that wholeheartedly. Also, while Lewis’ comments did possibly set conspiracy wheels in motion, he is likely speaking his truth. He isn’t saying that anyone did anything intentionally, but that there have been changes of staff, miscommunications and reliability issues that have all contributed… Read more »

Negative Camber

Two DNF’s for Seb this year and no wins…clearly Ferrari are favoring Kimi.

Dennis Tirch

Clearly. Kyvat is a secret Ferrari hitman. For the record, I don’t think Mercedes is favoring anyone, just not surprised that it all is being talked about. It makes for good copy.

Negative Camber

LOL…I’ll be honest, it’s not a story I would prefer to be discussing rather the issues they are having, what they’ve discovered and what they are working on. I find that more interesting.

MIE

That’s why he has been moved to a team with Ferrari engines, so the Horse Wisperer has even greater control…

MichaelB

So which is better – openly addressing the rumors about your team even when they’re admittedly half-baked at best like the Lewis conspiracy theories – or ignoring them and watching the speculation grow to ridiculous proportions like what’s happening with the stories about Sauber’s future and is starting to happen with Force India?

Negative Camber

I think it’s a sad situation when a team, as a constructor in the world championship, feels compelled to justify itself born on the back of social media silliness and one of its drivers saying he doesn’t understand why the team had personnel changes. When you engage the goofiness and start trying to have a public answer for yourself, you lend weight to the allegations which are nonsense. No one has any internal evidence of anything untoward regarding Lewis. He’s a terrific driver and triple world champ. The team are fine with him winning often. As a world championship winning… Read more »

MichaelB

But there were similar conspiracy allegations when Webber was struck by the gremlins that didn’t strike Vettel, and in 2014 there were also conspiracy theories flying when Nico had his round of bad luck – particularly after Double Dhabi. I think it’s precisely because Lewis tossed that little grenade out that Mercedes had to address the issue. Was Lewis right to publicly put 2 and 2 together and come up with 7? Probably not – but once he did it became hard for Mercedes to just let it go. I still say better that Mercedes tackle this head on, especially… Read more »

Jesse Melius

At the USGP, having lost the championship an annoyed Nico Rosberg had the hat tossing incident. Perhaps in hindsight that’ll be the turning point of his career. Perhaps he decided ‘I’m not losing to this guy again’. Easier said than done, but he hasn’t lost a race since, he now has 7 in a row. Sure, Lewis has had bad luck, but that can’t be all. At turn 1 in Australia, Nico squeezed his teammate out, costing him something like 5 places. That was a pretty aggressive move for Nico. I can’t recall him ever doing anything quite like that… Read more »

Negative Camber

I do think Nico had a light switch turned on and I think it is worth keeping in mind that he has no contract extension for next year. This is his last season so he is going to be giving it hell too.

Dave

I can see that. But how do you explain the misfortune of Hamilton’s car .. ??? not to mention this is the same engine and parts that Nico’s car has. and few others teams in the sport. Non of which have had any problems. And how do you explain .. as Hamilton was charging to finially catch Nico.. then all of a sudden they call and let him know he has a water pump problem…. You have a car I hope .. when you have a water pump problem and your car will over heat… how can you drive the… Read more »

Jesse Melius

Personally I’d explain it as misfortune. That being said I can’t remember too many times post Belgium 2014 that the Merc’s have actually raced on track. I don’t know maybe Merc has mitigated risk by keeping its drivers from on track racing by any means necessary. Stranger things have happened. For sure Merc said they don’t know how Lewis even finished Sochi, it does seem kinda odd doesn’t it? But a team sabotaging it’s own car because driver preference? The worst thing for Merc would be everyone getting bored of f1, resulting in rule changes that enhance competition. One guy… Read more »

BasCB

I kind of agree with your point. Certainly about Hamilton stopping to fuel people thinking there is something strange going on (I fully get that the team wanted to mix up the crews to prevent camps building and keep the team together). I do think that the letter helps to also bolster morale with any team members who might feel upset about being referred to as the “b” team.

Dave

it was a matter of time that they would have no choice but to write this letter to rebut these accusations. Frankly i don’t think its a team order… though it could very well be. It may just be one of the mechanics gone rogue. I am sure with time this will be made know when they can no longer hold back the guilt. Guys lets just let them race … wheel to wheel .

228929292AABBB

Um who else do we know of who is taking time out of his program to address this nonsense via social media? I guess it’s easy to slip into.

Richard Piers

How I agree with you. They have dignified the ignorant by responding to their bile, and most probably made a rod for their own backs.

Mega Money

NC; I stopped reading after the 4th paragraph. Your comments show you are not quite informed on the business side of running an F1 team even though you claim to have been a fan since 1972. You should leave LH and Mercedes (MB) alone. Both are correct in their respective reactions to the events starting from Australia and I will explain below. When Toto stepped out to speak with the press right after the Russian GP race, I thought he was great. The interview started very well and I said this man is on top of his game. He knew… Read more »

Negative Camber

You’re right, I know nothing, so could only read 4 para’s and decided to write nine yourself? Uh… Look, your empirical evidence that MB needs to come clean with what they are doing is Toto called the theories lunacy (which they are IMHO), Nico went purple toward the end of the race? I think I will require more evidence than that as to if MB is doing something to allow Nico to win and purposefully scuttling Lewis’s efforts. You even said that brand is big and as a huge, public company, there is no chance that this team would risk… Read more »

Mega Money

NC: I actually agreed with most of your points but where we diverge is on your view on the need for a corporate response and the ongoing LH bashing. It was Toto that triggered the corporate intervention. Even Lauda was quick to withdraw and apologize for his “expletives” during his Live interview post race on SKY. Toto should have done the same. Look man, if the shoe was on the other foot, the reaction would be the same. 100% failure to the same driver on 3 engines out of eight drivers and 4 teams? The optics is not good and… Read more »

Negative Camber

Or Lewis cost himself the title that year when he went wide at pit entry. You can’t pin it all on Fred. I think Toto’s comments are relatively benign and if anyone took serious damage from them, they need to lighten up. His comment may have been pointed but he also knows he’s not thwarting Lewis and I still find it odd that a team in the constructor’s title has to make a statement like this. I do recall the issue in Spain during testing, not sure what that has to do with the situation here but regardless, Is there… Read more »

jakobusvdl

Am I right in thinking your viewpoint can be summarised as, ‘toto should remember never to argue with a fool, because bystanders might not recognise the difference’?

Negative Camber

That’s not my point, my point is made in the story above. :)

jakobusvdl

Thats sooooo many paragraphs ago, I can’t reread all that! :-)

Esteban Muller

What does Lewis’s traveling schedule have to do with lack of reliability on his PU, or transmission? Can you explain that one to me?

Negative Camber

My point on his global travels is that if there were some concern over his new team members or why they were moved to his team, then more time at the factory might help him understand that better and if his starts are still giving him trouble, then perhaps more time on a sim or if he isn’t sure what the reliability issues are and why they are happening, maybe more time int eh shop with engineers to better understand. He brought up the communication issues and lack of understanding, I didn’t.

Esteban Muller

He has never complained about the starts, he took responsibility for that. How is spending more time on a sim or more talking to engineers help him understand the reliability issues? There’s absolutely nothing he can do from the drivers seat to cure reliability.

Jack Five

As a fan, I am emotionally invested in the team, which means on some level the fans support teams/constructors financially too. The millions of revenue through products and merchandise they make from us. Though we aren’t owed exact details, we should be made aware of the overall picture, what we see and what we don’t see. It is a necessary thing to ease the mind of a supporter, if you want and need their involvement. Otherwise, what is F1 without fans?

Negative Camber

I get your point, I really do. I am a fan of Ferrari but I really don’t feel I need to know what the team is doing structurally or strategically to support Seb and or Kimi other than they are giving them the best car they can to win. I am not asking for an explanation as to why Seb has had two DNF’s and Kimi hasn’t. Nor am I demanding to know if they are committed to their efforts to make sure that Seb is equally treated to Kimi.

Paul KieferJr

Sometime, you might want to do some research on Renaissance duels. Usually starts out with what’s called “giving the lie”: Basically, someone saying something about the opponent (usually an insult or something similar). The opponent must then respond or lose some honor (aka “lose face”, etc.). The response must be greater than the original attack. This goes back and forth until someone gets challenged to a duel.
On some level, this “Hamilton vs. Mercedes vs. Rosberg” thing is playing out just like the precursor to a duel. The question is….how far would this go?

dude

For a while, Lewis doesn’t really have a better team to go to for a while, the seats aren’t open for him even if he want to.

Paul KieferJr

The logic isn’t really that relevant in this case. It’s a game of chicken. Whoever blinks first loses.

Esteban Muller

Back to McClaren? Its possible, I dont think its smart, but then nobody thought that going to Merc was smart either. I think people underestimate the oportunities drivers like Hami have.

Shocks&Awe

Hopefully they’ll actually joust for the WDC. Bernie would love that!

mini696

Listening to 5-Live’s podcast I was getting a nervous twitch at their blatant rumor mongering and bias.

To say things like “You can read into what Lewis is saying” and then go in to a tirade regarding the bias of Merc towards Nico was sickening to listen to.

No 5-Live, you can’t read anything into the comments from Lewis other than exactly what he said.

jakobusvdl

I agree with you Mini, the five live podcasts have always strongly favoured the English drivers, but the last couple of years of Lewis-mania are becoming unbearable.
They certainly lead and fuel the conspiracy theories and try to get the drivers to snipe against each other.
Its really unprofessional

Shocks&Awe

How is it unprofessional for British sports commentators (read:entertainers) to favor British athletes, or pander to their primary audience? That’s what they’re paid to do.

Perhaps they’re a bit heavy handed, but that’s what the British public expects and supports. Just look at their “news”papers.

Not that it’s really any better here in the states.

If you stop thinking of journalists as objective, then it all makes perfect sense.

jakobusvdl

Foolish of me I know, but for some reason I still imagine that being ‘professional’ entails being unbiased and open minded.
I know that there are lots of UK papers that are biased beyond reason, but Five Live is on the BBC for goodness sake, and guess what they used to be renowned for?
Anyway at least we have the balanced and inclusive views of the F1B podcasts to listen to instead……. ;-)

Shocks&Awe

Yeah, Todd and Grace are our Woodward and Bernstein… The rest of the F1 journos?… not so much!

lol

MIE

Well they do like a “.gate” scandal.

Shocks&Awe

*wink*

228929292AABBB

Wow I disagree I think those podcasts are fabulous and I think listening to Lewis, he certainly was implying a hell of a lot. I’m not sure he even knew what it was he wanted to imply, but it was like he kept saying ‘and make no mistake, I’m implying lots of things!’. When they said ‘you’ve had bad luck’ and he said ‘yeah I’ve never believed much in luck…’ it was like he almost had to hold himself back from saying ‘dot dot dot’ out loud. Plus somehow Jennie Gow’s particular combination of grating, defensive and annoying just add… Read more »

Sophia Aragon

Hamilton has always enjoyed this privilege. Well, not always. It started after he accused McLaren of fixing Monaco ’07 and his lie was made to vanish. So it would be more accurate to say Hamilton has enjoyed this privilege since his 5th race in F1.

Dave

Not sure what privilege you are referring to. but when is it wrong to voice your concerns and point out when a team is intentionally doing something wrong. All we want to see is real racing….. I hope you want to see the same….

Sophia Aragon

There is a crane out there that still only works for Hamilton.

That the “real racing” we’ve been getting for more than a decade.

Shocks&Awe

Hamilton’s “pit” crane at work

Sophia Aragon

It is unsurprising you are ashamed to post the real picture of the event. It would show a crane picking Hamilton from among half a dozen drivers just as stuck as he was.

Shocks&Awe

I’m not ashamed of any such thing. I just had no idea what you were talking about.

While the FIA and stewards are incredibly inconsistent and sometime downright daft, I don’t believe for a second that they somehow show favoritism for Hamilton. He’s been on the receiving end of plenty of questionable calls, e.g. Belguim 2008

http://www.gptoday.com/full_story/view/218893/FIA_declares_Hamilton_crane_ride_legal/

Shocks&Awe

comment image

Sophia Aragon

Then, look it up. It’s on the record. Claiming ignorance of facts gets you nowhere.

Shocks&Awe

The lack of a sense of humor will get you less than that.

I DID look it up. And then I posted a link to an article about it, and a picture as well, so that all our FBC friends would be able to understand your vague reference. But I guess you didn’t notice that.

Sophia Aragon

Right.

Nikhil

So, is that Lewis saying that the group of guys who swapped teams make all the difference as to who wins the race? If that’s what he is saying, then he is also saying that winning the world championship was down to this group of guys – and not the abilities we feel he possesses!

Dave

I do think that Mercedes F team are indeed intentionally doing something to keep Hamilton at bay. Lets face the fact … we all know that Nico cannot race Hamilton wheel to Wheel if the grounds are level … It does not matter how many letters they write. The fact still remains that they know they are indeed hoping to have German win F1 with a German car. Its a very sad day. thought we’ve moved from that since this is 2016.. but oh well .. Look I like Nico and I do like Toto… But what ever happen to… Read more »

MIE

Nick has won all four races this season. Lewis had an MGU-H failure in only two of them. The other two he made a worse start off the line and lost out in the first corner as a result. Some of the deficit can be traced down to reliability, but an equal amount is down to the driver.
Just because a failure happened doesn’t mean that it was premeditated, prototype components at the edge of what is technically possible do fail, or are Ferreri deliberately hampering Vettel, or McLaren intentionally holding back Alonso?