A little perspective…

I have read mammoth piles of horseshit regarding the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the way in which Mercedes handled the race. I just don’t see why anyone is upset. At the end of the race a rather dim German stomped past me in the press room, mumbling something obtuse about how Lewis was a “dirty” driver.

Clearly, the man in question understands nothing about the rules of the sport. As Lewis Hamilton pointed out after the race, “we were fighting for the championship. I was in the lead, I control the pace. That’s the rules.”

Lewis is right. Dim Deutsche should go and report on something else.

The way I see it, Lewis did a quite brilliant job. He didn’t need to block. He just slowed the pace and Nico could do nothing but sweat. Even he described Lewis’s tactical driving as “perfect”. It was one of the most remarkable drives I have seen in my 500 Grands Prix. Lewis wanted to win in the right way, but as the laps ticked by, it became clear that the only choice he had left was to back Nico up, into the drivers behind. If he did that, perhaps, there would be a bingle and Nico would be knocked out, or overtaken by both Sebastian Verstappen and Max Verstappen, which would have given Lewis the title. It’s not the best way to win a title, but points are points. And while Lewis did a masterful job, Nico held it together, took the pressure and did nothing stupid. He delivered the goods and so it is fair to say that he too did a masterful job. You could see at the end of the race that Nico was drained. The team got a bit nervous because, in theory at least, Vettel might have passed both of its drivers and won the race. Frankly, when you have won 18 of the 20 races and the Constructors’ title it really make no difference. In fact, another win would cost Mercedes more money becauze every point means that the price of the entry fee goes up. Getting more points is utterly irrelevant when are already champion. The payout does not change. So, it would perhaps have been better for Mercedes to have said nothing at all, or even smarter to have said: “Just go racing boys.” That would have been the best strategy of them all… That way, people wwould not be saying that the team favoured Nico this year.

Anyway, the argument that Lewis did something wrong is for journalists versed in golf. The team finished 1-2. An that was that… To try to turn this into a story that Lewis is going to quit the team is as dim as the stomping German. Rule number one in Formula 1 is that you never give up a competitive car. If you think that there is a more competitive car, that’s fine. It’s a risk, but to lose a drive that wins races without a damned good reason is just stupidity, or ego with wings.

To be fair to Mercedes, the team has always been very fair to the drivers.

“We could have told them who should win, as many teams have done in the past,” said team boss Toto Wolff. “But we don’t do that and we have coped quite well with the situation in the last few years.”

This is the genius of the Mercedes strategy. It’s sporting. Just as Williams was sporting back in 1986 when it let its two drivers fight and McLaren’s Alain Prost nicked the world title. That really didn’t matter, because teams don’t get paid on the result of the Drivers’ title. The money comes from the Constructors’title. McLaren was just as sporting in numerous seasons when it allowed its drivers to fight. OK, it is not 100 efficiency, but it is sport and clever people realise the value of the difference.

The very first fight I had with Jean Todt (and there have been a few) was at a splendid place called Gao, on the banks of the Niger River in Niger. Monsieur T decided that to make sure that one of his drivers won the Paris-Dakar Rally, he would stop them competing by tossing a coin. I believe he still has the coin, transformed into a key ring.

I don’t think I called Jean any names on that occasion, but I am pretty sure that I told him that he was not a sportsman. I understand why he did what he did, but the pursuit of efficiency is not always the right answer. This is what I wrote at the time: “The race still had six days to run but Peugeot’s marketing policies were considered more important than the sport. The yes-men with the briefcases and corporate pie charts won the Paris-Dakar Rally. The adventurers were overshadowed by the pale bureaucrats in Paris. Out in the desert, Jacky Ickx and Ari Vatanen had been fighting each other hard to gain an upper hand. Vatanen had rolled his Peugeot 405 before Gao. For Todt and his organisation, a truce had to be called between his racing star and his rallying ace. And so Todt tossed a 10 franc piece into the air: heads would mean victory for Vatanen; tails would give the win to Ickx.

“Vatanen has won,” said Todt, playing God.

“C’est la vie,” shrugged Ickx, playing the professional

“I didn’t want to settle it in that way,” said Vatanen, not wanting to play the game.

It was, in all ways, an unsatisfactory way to settle the outcome of the last true motor sporting adventure. Both drivers would have preferred to fight it out, away in the desert, without external dictates. Being professionals, they said nothing, but the hurt shone from each. These are not politicians, they are sportsmen and their great adventure had been tarnished; sacrificed on the altar of commercialism. It left a bitter taste in the mouth, far removed from the enthusiasm of which both Ickx and Vatanen had spoken in the days leading up to Gao.”

So let’s not knock Mercedes. Let us praise them. Winning 19 of 21 races is mighty. McLaren did 15 out of 16 in 1988. Ferrari’s best (under Monsieur Efficiency) in the Schumacher era was 15 out of 18 in 2004 and 15 our of 17 in 2002. Red Bull didn’t even get into the ballpark (so, don’t lecture about team orders, Christian). Ferrari dictated who won. Red Bull too. Mercedes, McLaren and Williams never did. They were sportsmen.

And that is why this season was fab. Because you didn’t know who was going to win…

Neither driver in Abu Dhabi expressed anything that suggested that he felt that there was anything unfair, although some media were trying to stir up a storm. Nico was drained by the end. It was, he said, the most intense race he had ever had. But you know what? He walked through the fire. You could not fault either driver – unless you don’t understand motor racing. When all is said and done, both drivers did everything they could to win. They did it fairly. They fought like giants and after it was all done, they showed respect for one another. Nico took the pressure and won the title. His steely determination and his absolute refusal to accept defeat was, to borrow his favourite word “Awesome!” Lewis knocked him down and he got up again.

So when you boil it all down. Appreciate what we have, because what we have right now is great.

Bravo Nico. Bravo Lewis. Bravo Mercedes. And bravo F1…

425 thoughts on “A little perspective…

    1. Not quite a perfect summary Joe, The way I see it the radio calls were the one bit that Mercedes needs to look at. They told Lewis to speed up. This would have resulted in Lewis loosing the world championship. They claimed to be agnostic, this clearly favors Rosberg. What they should have said was “Lewis don’t loose the race”. Nothing more. Paddy sort of said it in the end, in a clumsy way. But the appearance is still the team favored Rosberg from the earlier calls. More power to Lewis for sticking to his guns and HIS strategy in the heat of the battle. All the Merc computing power could not figure that out! If you tell me it could, why was Lewis’s engineer not providing that info to Lewis and Rosberg’s the way to counter it….? That would have been a level playing field provided by the team. But they let the drivers play it out on the track. So Lewis then got to decide. The team should have shut up. They had the Constructors Championship. But they muddied the waters with those calls and that leaves an appearance.

      The appearance of Rosberg over Lewis has been there all season starting with the mechanics crossing the Garage. Giving the Championship winning part of the team to the other driver. Do we ask coaches to switch sides to even things up? So in summary Rosberg won a Championship with the better engineering staff and more reliable car, and you cant say those two things are not correlated. He did not win on out qualifying and out driving his team mate. He got lucky. He is not the best in the world. He is a top driver. No doubt, but this wont get him in the greats. He is an also ran on this years performance. It is all about appearance! Merc tried to manage it, but they did not quite get it right.

      1. Lots of champions were more or less lucky during the last races.

        2012 Vettel
        2010 Vettel
        2009 Button
        2008 Hamilton
        2007 Raikkonen

      2. “Giving the Championship winning part of the team to the other driver. Do we ask coaches to switch sides to even things up?”

        Assuming that team of mechanics is far superior to the other team, and you intend to treat your drivers absolutely equal, then you would switch that team back and forth from year to year, wouldn’t you? Lewis had them for few years and benefitted from it, for equal treatment, now it should be Rosberg’s turn.

        1. The problem with the fair treatment argument of swapping sides of the garage is it might work, but for the fact it is fairly transparent which side of the scale Merc management is trying to tip things. Remember Toto et al said BEFORE the race started that if Lewis backed up Rosberg they would give him the earlier pit stops.

          Lewis won qualifying and rather than let him enjoy the benefit of that success they remove the option to control the race. All things are equal, but not too equal, for Lewis. It was a day management needed to step back and let the drivers sort it out without taking each other out. They did not, they inserted themselves publicly. So given the calls and the threats, you see the distribution of assets in the garage a little differently. As a whole this year the finger was on the scale for Rosberg, plain and simple. So back to the Garage. Toss all the names in hat drivers pick them out so that the staff are randomized for each roll. That is “fair” and not stacking the deck. But they knew which side was the winning hand and gave it away to another. Once Rosberg lost the pole he should have been instructed to fight it with the hand you are given, same to Lewis. Now that would have earned my respect. That both sides had to fight to the end. Not that Lewis has to second guess where he stands with the team, while he is driving, given the calls he received from his boss. Really, might as well have said “Lewis lets discuss your future on the radio”. It was not Merc managements finest hour. If they had stepped back, Rosberg fought for the win or second place. That gets respect!

      3. So, you don’t have a problem with Lewis having the “better engineering staff and more reliable car…” for a couple of seasons. But it’s unfair if Rosberg gets the same now?

        1. Depends on how you define better. You had a group working for Lewis for a couple of seasons and were totally dialed in to his set-up requirements for his driving style. Then you have a driver constantly asking for coaching on the details of Lewis’ braking strategy and line strategy, but he can’t quite maximize that information because his car is not set-up for it. Well, what if we swap engineers then …

      4. To me the radio calls were about winning the race, not altering or determining the championship – as Joe said above ” The team got a bit nervous because, in theory at least, Vettel might have passed both of its drivers and won the race.”

          1. Mercedes was concerned about losing the race, agreeed. Do you think Mercedes was also and equally concerned about losing a one-two? Is it Mercedes objective to win each race, or is it their objective to finish one-two, i.e. to maximize the outcome of both cars and the team? If the latter, then Mercedes, in addition to being concerned about losing first place, could have been equally concerned about losing second place. And if so, then they would rightfully be upset that Lewis was willing to compromise “Nico’s” half of the team in order to benefit himself.

          2. Sorry, Joe but I have a hard time believing that Merc did not appreciate the true pace of Lewis and did not know it was more than enough to stay ahead of Seb

            1. Of course they knew what was going on. These people are an extraordinarily bright bunch of people. They are not a bunch of know-it-all F1 fans in a pub.

                1. That’s the bit i’m struggling with. Why the instruction? Mercedes management have now put themselves in an awkward position. Why talk about punishing a driver for doing what he is paid to do? The management Wolff, Lowe and Lauda need to put their hands up and state that they made an error in making such an instruction in the heat of battle. The pressure got to them where their two drivers handled it. Nico and Lewis have done an amazing job all year. Nico a very worthy champion and Lewis proved his status as one of the best to ever drive an F1 car.

            2. Along similar lines, they managed to switch the positions of their cars in Austria via a 10-lap undercut for rosberg, initially duping Lewis into thinking he did not have to attempt to pass Rosberg on track, then suddenly telling him they were switching strategies so he had a one-lap undercut, at best a marginal call (which became impossible after a slow pitstop). Also note the interesting timing and nature of issues that Lewis has had this year. The only antidote is a truly competitive Red Bull in 2017

              Similarly asking Lewis to move over in Hungary ’14 when an argument could be made that they could pit him for the same tires that Nico was going to take up and he could then challenge ALO and RIC for the win that day.

              As Brawn put it (perhaps to sell his book), Toto and Niki cannot be trusted.

              In Abu Dhabi, it was obvious Lewis had Seb covered. Seb needed two attempts to overtake Max, would have needed two to get past Nico, and would certainly had not gotten past Lewis.

                1. for sure, Merc’s machinations helped viewing figures, and created more talking points that aided ad-driven websites, and Lewis showed up on screen a lot when he was fighting past cars, as did Nico, since he often was fighting Red Bulls. ’twas a championship for the pragmatists…the end justified the means

                2. Joe; I think some of the contributors here would try and place Lewis on the Grassy Knoll in downtown Dallas if it were possible….

    2. From the broadest perspective, I agree with your take on it, Joe. But I also have a lot of respect for the team manager’s specific issue: do we as a team have a set of agreements that guide our actions and relationships… or do we not?
      Assuming they do and assuming Lewis ignored them, then Wolff is obligated to do something about it. As he said, a precedent has been set that it’s okay to ignore the agreement when it suits your situation.
      One of his options, as he pointed out, is to change the rules for the future. But if he doesn’t act, he’ll be seen as capricious by the rest of the team. And that’s how many feel race officials have treated Verstappen and his antics. It’s about trust; trusting our managers/officials.
      All that said, I do understand that, given the race outcome, it’s all academic. But the issue of agreements and trust are the underlying factors that many are overlooking.

      1. Agreed, David. One of the earlier commentators said, “Why talk about punishing a driver for doing what he is paid to do?” Well, Lewis isn’t an independent operator on the track. He is paid handsomely by Mercedes to race for them, and has signed a contract under whose terms he is obligated to do what they deem best for the “team.” Now, if he has decided that he doesn’t want to do that and that his personal interests supercede his contract with the team, he should do the honorable thing and end his association with Mercedes and move on. Simple as that. You either are a man of your word, or you aren’t.

    3. Totally agree Paul West 👍
      Joe another brilliant post 👍👍👍👍👍
      Glad you can see the utter tactical brilliance of Hamiltons strategy. Mercedes cannot afford to add more fuel to the fire by taking any dubious sanctions against Lewis. For a start they had both cars on camera which the sponsors will be happy with. Mercedes are in the news and will be throughout the holiday period. Lewis has shown he is a genius on how he played Mercedes (knowing Mercedes would bring Rosberg in early if he slowed the race too much. He waited until the Pitstops were done and dusted. Mercedes strategy team and pit wall could only sit and watch…helplessly without any interference. Paddys radio chatter was a shot in his own foot. It showed they were not letting them race but trying to interfere.) at their own game.
      It would have been a dull race in the middle east. Instead we got one hell of an ending. Unlike other World Champion winning years
      Lewis took the shine off Rosberg. Instead we will be talking about the Master class of driving by Lewis Hamilton above the victory of Rosberg.
      Who would have thought that all the talk is about Lewis and not Nico as World Champion.
      I can’t stop smiling but it is one the best adrenaline packed and entertaining drives I’ve seen in grand prix history.
      Joe I’m glad you appreciated it for what was …racing brilliance.
      The news papers as usual are going “bat crap crazy” with the wild news headers.
      No one in the right mind would let such a top driver be suspended dismissed or fined.
      Cannot wait for next year to start .
      Happy Christmas all and keep up the good work Joe 10/10.

  1. Well put. It all worked out the way Mercedes wanted, and even if the worst case scenario played out (i.e. double DNF) it would not have amounted to a substantive loss to the team – other than perhaps in PR terms. Both Championships in the bag, therefore no need to pussyfoot around.

  2. Quite. Perhaps some of the negative commentators would’ve preferred Hamilton to run away at the start never to be seen again? Would that have made for an exciting season finale?

    Er, no.

  3. I really thought Rosberg would crumble at some stage but he didn’t so hats off to him. Hamilton is as pure a racer as I’ve seen in many years and it’s a pleasure to watch. With the new regulations, Mercedes are not guaranteed to continue their domination so next season is going to be hugely intriguing.

  4. Well said Joe, a little slowing down is no big thing, after all, other drivers have done much worse in the final race of the championship….

  5. I know the track is full of Verstappen these days Joe, but to christen Sebastian V. as a Verstappen as well goes a bit too far (I can hear Sebastian complaining already 🙂

  6. Hi Joe,

    I totally agree. Racing is about wining and you can use every tactic and strategy in the book that is legal to win. Hamilton wanted to do it the right way you are spot on. He just left the slowing of the pace a little too late with Verstappen’s great but shaded push running out of stream towards the end.

    In my opinion Mercedes should stop being so vocal about their approach if they are later willing to settle later on, as it sends mixed message and unsettles the team. Money and PR shouldn’t be an issue when you already have the the Constructors and the Driver’s championship in the bag anyway.

    The rules in F1 are a bit nanny state at the moment but Hamilton is well within his rights to do what he did as I am sure many if not all other drivers would do. Rosberg could always attempt to pass. Where the line should be drawn is Schumacher on Villeneuve 97 for example, because that was unfairly forced. The opportunity needs to be preserved, odd can be influence but not forced.

  7. Well said Joe, wholeheartedly agree with every word. If anything it showed that Nico deserved it, and Lewis is a sportsman because he only did this when he had no other options left.

  8. At last, sanity and wisdom. Not unexpected from Joe of course, but a reminder of why you remain one of the very best observers and writers on modern F1. I really couldn’t have put it better myself!

      1. It did smack of the Todt story in your piece though didn’t it, the team didn’t need to say it. In the way the team radio was played out it did appear that the team were pushing HAM so that the pressure would drop on ROS.

        As you said Joe, they had both titles in the bag, in doing what they did they have just provided more cannon fodder for the conspiracy theorists.

        Anyway an early Seasons Greetings to Joe and the contributors …..

        Onwards and upwards to 2017


      2. I know we do not get to hear all radio transmissions, but Paddy told Lewis that “this is an instruction” when he gave him the lap time he wanted him to do – like an automaton; thank goodness Lewis ignored it! Perhaps Paddy is now the Jean Todt of your Paris-Dakar story?

      3. Yes he did, both Pete Bonnington and Peddy Lowe “requested” number 44 to speed-up and told him of the dangers he was pushing the team into.
        Number 44 “he wins or lose was all about me attitude and why he is so widely disliked.

        1. So widely disliked?
          Very subjective opinion.
          Prost said Lewis did nothing wrong.
          Horner said Lewis did nothing wrong.
          Brundle said Lewis did nothing wrong.
          As did Joe in this article.
          (Seems Salvuborg you have been bouncing from one F1 website to another trumpeting wildly. No doubt your comeback will be all hands waving wildly)

          Most racing fans appreciate talent. You seem to make it about your own personal ideals that shape your dislike for the man. Can you give us a percentage or statistical quantative poll data on this “that’s why most people hate him” opinion masquerading as an objective statement ?
          You dislike him fair enough.
          But don’t shilly shally with wide sweeping statements. The anti-Lewis train has been waiting for something like this. No doubt the “rear end is full” on the last coach but the rest of the train is empty.
          I assume the rest of us prefer to enjoy a race rather than a dull canter into oblivion.
          World is not a plaid place so enjoy the colour Salvborg!

      4. The person who I believe has come out of this worst is Paddy Lowe –

        1. His “instruction” to Hamilton that he needed to speed up in order to protect the race victory when he must have known what that would mean?

        2. His post-race comment that in his opinion the team is now nicely balanced with WDC titles on both sides of the garage. This of course plays beautifully into the hands of the conspiracy theorists who believe that Merc never had any intention of letting Hamilton win this year.

      5. Precisely. The TV panned to a shot of Lowe afterwards as well, and it was virtually as if the look on his face said: “I’m sorry mate, I didn’t want to say that, but I *had* to”

        Is there any indication whether Mercedes are going to switch the mechanics round again next year?

      6. Joe, Paddy almost looked embarrassed and apologetic at having to issue the warning. Do you think this was Totos instruction or was it just a case of wanting to show the public that they are incharge, saving face?

      7. Both Lewis’ race engineer AND Paddy Lowe said “This is an instruction”; indeed the latter was reported in GP+. To me, that sounds like an order. Very disappointing.

        Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy enough that Nico won it, and I think that if Lewis had won it with those tactics (which I don’t blame him for trying) the amount of flak he’d have got would have made his life not worth living. And would he really have wanted to win it that way? So I think the end result was the best possible in the circumstances.

        And although one has to give kudos to Mercedes for NOT being Ferrari, and allowing their drivers to race all year, that only adds to it being such a shame that they spoilt it so near the end; having said they were going to let them race it out, they then started issuing “instructions” to Lewis, effectively ordering him to sabotage his WDC strategy.

        I think what was most surprising for me in the post-race interviews was that on UK Channel 4 (and again as reported in GP+) Toto Wolff wryly admitted that the racer in him would do the same and that he was conflicted… whereas Niki Lauda on Channel 4 was angry at Lewis, saying that his behaviour was intolerable and unacceptable (or a similar expression). Niki went on to say that if he had been in the same situation back in the 1970s, he honestly would not have done what Lewis had done today, as he would have had too much respect for the team.

        Words failed me.

        Anyway, thank you Joe, David, Peter, Mike et. al. for all your superb reporting this year, and I look forward to the Season Review in a few weeks’ time.

        All the best,

        1. I am saddened to this day that Ferrari gets such negative press in regards team-orders.

          Joe alluded to the modus operandi of Jean Todt in this piece and yet people choose to ignore the basic facts.

          Ferrari adopted a 1-2 strategy when Schumacher had joined the team. In other words during the Todt administration. Unfortunately it has been maintained as truth by what I consider poor journalism and I applaud Mr Saward highlighting Todt’s methods.

          Enzo Ferrari ran the team with one express goal, victory for the car. Ferrari’s won races, drivers lost them. He would even pit drivers against one another to further the Scuderias interests above their wn.

          Merciless? Undoubtedly but his ethos was the same as Frank Williams.

          It’s romantic to suggest that Ron encouraged racing between his drivers and for a time I applauded him. But I know David Coulthard has stated in interviews about the unbalanced working practices at Mclaren too.

          Team orders are acceptable to close down titles from another team but when Mclaren chose to use them for Hakkinen’s first 2 victories, or Barrichello had to move asides early in 2002 and similarly, Webber in Malaysia in 2013 – Multi 21 – something is inherently wrong with the management

        2. I absolutely couldn’t believe what Niki said after the race. I had been saying to my dad in the last few laps that I was sure that Niki as a racer would have no problem at all with what Lewis was attempting to do…

        3. I think Lewis should do a Niki and tell the Merc management, “I am tired of going around in circles” for you, and walk out. Clearly Lewis has fallen out with management somewhere along the line…it could be personal animosity between alpha personalities, envy, a clash of individual vs team cultures.

            1. Of course, I meant it in jest. I think that is a Niki Lauda quote from his first retirement. Worth remembering he was never a saint…

      8. The team did issue an “instruction” with a target laptime over the threat from Vettel’s pace – twice, if I remember correctly.

          1. Come on Joe, that’s close to splitting hairs. There is at least some overlap in the meaning of these two words. It’s not the same, but to me it sounds like they only wanted to avoid the term “team order” while still having the same goal, which is to tell their drivers how to race. I understand that they didn’t want to lose the race win, but as a fan I couldn’t care less about how many races Mercedes wins. People switch on their TVs because they want to see which driver wins. And after the WCC is decided, the constructor’s interests should be of even less importance. It’s astonishing that Niki Lauda of all people doesn’t get that.

                  1. That’s not the issue. His win was a masterpiece of tactical driving rarely seen before, but caused him to defy a direct order from his employers. When Vettel did the same and defied the Multi 21 to take the win he was damned for it. An order is an order.

            1. Instruction was the chosen word. I suspect there was a specific reason for that, most likely relating to the driver’s contract with the team – either to allow the team to reprimand Lewis for not obeying an instruction or for giving them an out to not reprimand because his contract states that an “order” is different to an “instruction” and only one provides a penalty.

        1. The 1:45.1 was not a number tailored to Nico’s liking, it was a number targeted at Lewis not losing the race to Vettel.

          Just watch the race again and pay attention to what Paddy was actually doing: he was instructing Lewis to not lose the race.

          Mercedes said all along they wanted to win races and not micro-manage their drivers. They did exactly what they said they were going to do.

      9. “Lewis, this is Paddy. We need you to pick up the pace to win this race”

        “Lewis this is an instruction, you must speed up to win this race”

        Certainly sounds like orders to me.

      10. Both Paddy Lowe and Pete Bonnington used the phrase “This is an instruction.” I would interpret that as an order. A shameful one but still an order.

        1. I took at as an order too. Both Bono and Paddy instructed (ordered?) Lewis to not risk losing the damn race.

          Nothing shameful about that. They pay him a bazillion dollars to win races, and he was screwing around with that because he wanted to back Nico up. They understood what he was doing and why. They just didn’t want him risking the race win in the process.

          Lewis responded by saying he was losing a championship, he wasn’t worried about losing a race. While he didn’t lose the race, he did spend several laps making his bosses nervous that he might.

          Losing the race was a risk Lewis clearly was willing to take, as that risk came as part of his effort to back Nico up. An inch here, a couple inches there, and Seb would have been happy to scoot around both of them and deny M-B the win. It didn’t work out that way, but it was a risk Lewis was willing to take.

          If (?) the M-B bosses are steamed at Lewis, that’s what they’re mad about: not about him backing Nico up, but him blowing off the team’s instruction that he not put the win at risk.

          1. you seem to forget that losing the race would have almost certainly lost Lewis the championship…do the arithmetic. Trust me he had no plan to lose the race…

            1. Hello? Here is the arithmetic: He might risk losing 1 race, but that strategy was his only chance of winning 1 world championship in 2016. Which of those do you think was most important to him?

      11. “Lewis, this is Paddy. We need you to pick up the pace to win this race. That’s an instruction.” Only a pedantic politician would get away with saying that’s not an order 🙂

              1. His job seems to be a sinecure…he’s not even remotely professional. He’s joined Jackie Stewart in taking shameless potshots at Lewis. Reeks of envy, I’m afraid.

      12. Lap 52. “This is Paddy. We need you to pick up the pace to win this race. That’s an instruction

        Sounded like an order to me.

  9. As always you provide a fair and balanced opinion Joe …Thank you for all your hard work this season I like many appreciate you ..

  10. I don’t feel Lewis was sporting trying to back Nico into an accident, thankfully Vettel didn’t risk the lunge that Max I am sure would have. I seem to be in the minority though.

      1. Wow! the British bias has never been so obvious. While nothing was against rules, it was dirty. Just like MS was called dirty many many times before. I am sure had it been the other way around, the British media would have been crying hoarse.

        It was dirty & half the world thinks it was dirty (the other half doesn’t). Happy to see Lewis lose.

        And you probably wont have the courage to have this posted to your blog!

          1. To be fair, there is nothing in Anshuman’s comment that references him thinking you are English or not English. He did however suggest there was a bias British bias by the media. I may have overlooked something but I’m unable to see anything he has written that singles out one journalist or member of the press specifically.

          2. But biased you are, and no doubt bout it, not only that but also being selective at what you Let stand on your site,

        1. Anshuman – the rules are put in place in order to regulate the behaviour of the drivers and the teams. Hamilton, Rosberg and Mercedes all followed the rules. What more do you want ?
          Perhaps you would enlighten us all and define ‘dirty’. Are you suggesting that Hamilton’s behaviour was unethical. If so, who gets to decide what is and what is and what isn’t ethical. You ? Me ? The man in the moon ?
          The rules are the only thing to which all participants are bound, the only thing which they agree to honour. Everything else is opinion and personal value judgement.
          Did you criticise Sir Ben Ainsley when he sailed Robert Scheidt down the fleet in order to win Olympic gold ? If not, why not ?

        2. Wow what utter piffle, Anshuman.
          Prost, Horner, Brundle has said what Lewis did, was within the rules. What else would you do ?
          Bend over and let your team mate give you a free five finger prostate examination?
          You fight until their are no options left. Schumacher and Senna have done a lot worse as have a few other drivers. Top drivers want to fight. Others want to win a championship in the back draft of
          their team mate creeping to the finish line (while his team mate has shown his natural speed and A star grade talent in racing & driving ability in producing a tense spectacular end to 2016).
          This is the talking point.
          F1 should have the flair, the fireworks & the tense drama.
          Instead you want a bland race to cap another year of Mercedes Supremacy with a 30 second gap to the others.
          Jeez your Monaco based Scandinavian smidgen German won. Enjoy the mince pies over a bottle of Blue Nun 😎
          Before anyone says it Blue Nun wine is same as Thunderbird wine that most University undergrads back in the 80s 90s drank their way through and regretted the day after (I did big time 😩 never again until the next seasonal end of semester/term ball).

      2. I agree with James and so would millions of others. Lewis’s behaviour was indeed gamesmanship and illustrated only too well the modern approach to sport.

        The greats in the past such as Moss and Fangio would not have behaved like that in the circumstances and would indeed have driven off into the distance to prove their point rather than try to sabotage their teammates race.

        Nico could have adopted the Senna/Prost approach at the start if he had an extreme mindset (which despite his moments such as Austria I do not think is the case)

        I have sympathy with Lewis for his mechanical issues this year and few doubt that he is the better driver – but he doesn’t embellish his reputation with yesterday’s tactics – and chickens may yet come home to roost on the team orders front.

        Hats off to Nico for coping with the pressure all year

        1. +1 – great post. If you want to talk about sportsmanship let’s look at the 1956 finale – Peter Collins not only went out of his way to reliquish his own chances of clinching the title but gave his car to his teammate (Fangio) to allow the Argentinian to win it instead. This can not entirely be rationalized as a ‘bygone age’ as in the same race Musso refused to do the same despite also racing for the same team.

        2. The regulations are in the public domain. Lewis competed within those regulations. Everything else is opinion and value judgment. Lewis’ tactics don’t meet your value judgment and so you will root less for him, or not at all. And that’s what sport is all about.

        3. Senna, Japan, 1991. Hardly recent. Held Mansell up superbly for the 1st dozen laps until Mansell dropped it. Both Senna and Hamilton did it a lot better than, say, Schumacher’s blatant brake test on Hakkinen, Macau F3, 1990. And numerous times in F1.

      3. Actually Joe reviewing todays press worldwide as well as the overall opinion of F1’s fan base online this fine Monday morning … tis you that be distinctly in the very small almost non existent and prejudicial minority good sir … not the likes of James nor I .

        1. You confuse headline writers in the media with the public, something most losing politicians do these days too and look what happens. I can assure you any racing fan would have done what Lewis did in the same position and he did it so well that he was in control in terms of winning the race and giving Nico something to think about.

      4. Jorge Lorenzo after initially backing the pack up in the final race at Valencia in 2013 (he needed Marquez to finish 5th or lower), felt it wasn’t right or sporting either. He sped back up as he didn’t want to win in such a manner. Being in the minority alongside a MotoGP champion is no bad thing.

        Its important to note that once the chequered flag fell, both Mark Webber and David Coulthard commented on how Lewis was not particularly gracious in defeat and came across as a sore loser. When Nico lost, in 2014 in particular, both commentators said he did so with better grace, congratulating Lewis more openly.

        1. Lorenzo was interviewed during the C4 coverage. I remember him explaining about that very race.

          He attempted to slow Marquez but found that Valentino Rossi was too far back to help and there were a number of Honda’s around him which would obviously have given up their place for the title contender.

          At that point Jorge took off to secure the victory. It had nothing to do with morals or ethics.

          1. I believe you’re referring to the C4 coverage post-Abu Dhabi, where I agree Jorge was certainly being more ‘reserved’ in the way he described the situation in Valencia 2 years ago. However if you look at the press interviews immediately after the MotoGP race itself in 2014 his explanation was very different where he explicitly stated it ‘didn’t feel right to win that way’.

            If I were to speculate, during the C4 interview Jorge was not exactly forthcoming on the comparison but Webber (and to some extent Coulthard) pushed for his opinion. It was evident to me, Jorge did not wish to disparage the acts of the protagonists of the day and therefore played down the analogy to his own situation and therefore offered an explanation that would discourage further questioning.

            I would discount any notion of Rossi assisting Jorge either, in MotoGP the riders tend to ride for themselves even within the same team. The teammates are in effect two separate entities (far more so than in F1) under one umbrella management. The concept of team strategy or orders is a complete misnomer in the sport. It is also well known that there is no love loss between Rossi and Lorenzo – in fact there were suggestions that Rossi even preferred Marquez to win the title that year so he’d have been very unlikely to assisted his teammate (think Mansell and Piquet if you’re familiar with F1 of the 80s).

            1. Dear sir,
              I used to be present in the paddocks during the 80’s. Security back then wasn’t in evidence.

              I always liked chatting to Mansell and his family during tyre testing at Silverstone.. I’d speak Italian to the Ferrari team members and spend time with Minardi and Scuderia Italia too.

              I didn’t particularly like Piquet or strangely enough the Ligier team but found Flavia Briatore interesting company

              Heady days the 80’s and since the early 90’s the only place that compares for access to the cars and people of international motorsport is Goodwood.

              As to MotoGP, the childish diva attitude that permeates through F1 should take a look at the bikers. Irrespective of their age, there’s no whining about white lines and rules, they just get on with racing hard.

          2. You forget it was Lorenzo bouncing up and down like an immature child in 2015 outside the stewards office before the podium, trying to get his own team mate disqualified (after Marquez tried to rough up Rossi in the hope his Spanish brethren wins the Championship, after Marquez clipped his leg on Rossi foot rest) .
            Lorenzo is the pantomime villan.
            For Lorenzo to even get involved in this argument is neither here nor there. Same goes for Marquez who already knows in 2017 Rossi new team mate and Rossi and Lorenzo on a Ducati will have the better of Marquez next year.
            As for Sky team owned by Murdochs Mafia & Webber & Channel 4 making it an issue especially Eddie “my mates & neighbours The Rosbergs ” has always been on an anti-Lewis from the get go. Even Hamiltons mother had a go at him a few years back by saying at the British GP that he was always firing negatives and expected her to be civil to him and give him an interview…which she did. EJ didn’t have much to say after that.”
            Lewis made the race in Abu Dhabi. It was what F1 needs a masterful drive and an entertaining and dramatic finish.

        2. Spot on Mr Ballard! How you lose is just as important as how you win, and reflects on the character of the people involved. Unfortunately, unless one is a fan of the modern day ” professional foul ” and that type of sporting attitude, then one has to say that Rosberg came out of it all with an enhanced reputation, whilst Lewis dropped the ball in terms of how a 3 time world champion should act. Just fact, no matter how people want to argue it, Stewart or Clark or others such as Moss in particular, who helped Hawthorn take the title that Moss had won totally, would not have acted so ungraciously, and “losing” the title doesn’t excuse poor behaviour in my view. It actually saddens me that Lewis, Vettel and Rosberg amongst, others ( Max V is getting there quickly too ) sometimes just don’t get true professionalism in the way that Ronnie Peterson and such as Gilles Villeneuve did….and that is one reason why those guys are still loved long after their sad deaths.

          1. It’s an interesting misapprehension that people believe Moss had won the title but gave it up sportingly to Hawthorn due to an error made by race control during the Portuguese GP.
            In 1958 Portugal was the 9th race of an 11 race season.
            Moss won with Hawthorn taking second. At the next race, in Italy, Moss retired and Hawthorn again finished second. At the final race in Morocco, Moss won again with Mike second.
            Due to the points system that year Hawthorn took the title by one point but at the time of Moss’ “graciousness” It wasn’t a title decider, he probably felt he’d win all the last 2 race as well.
            After all he won 4 races to Hawthorns 1 that year.

    1. I agree, James. In my opinion it was a questionable tactic. Nico fully deserved this championship, congratulations to him.

    2. After both Bonnington and Lowe “requested him to speed it up and explaned the possible dangers to the team, he slowed it down even more and actually said he was losing the WDC and didn’t care if he won or lost the race. but the problem with number 44 tactics and number 6 in second place it only would have had a chance of working if both red bulls were behind number 6, as number 6 had the luxury of dropping to 3rd, with Vettel in 3rd it wasn’t going to happen, Vettel was never going to overtake number 6 and potentially cost him the WDC. In effect Vettel protected number 6 from MV. The bigger issue for MB is the driver saying he does not care wither he wins or loses, That’s an all about ME attitude and why number 44 is so widely disliked.

      1. This. Lewis’ behavior was selfish, and demonstrated that he only cares about himself, not about the team, nor the other 999 people who work for the team. Some people are OK with that.

    3. Lewis wasn’t trying to back Nico into an accident, he was trying to back him into an overtaking opportunity for Vettel or Verstappen. There’s a big difference between the two.

    4. Just look at it as Hamilton putting up another test for Rosberg to prove he can be the champion James.
      I am sure Nico himself must have at least half thought it could happen. And he stood the test, didn’t budge, crumble or give up, and it gave that title even more satisfaction that in the last race he gave it all he had with a lovely overtake on Verstappen and fighting off Vettel in the last few laps.

      This championship was not gifted, Hamilton made sure it wasn’t with that last race, Nico deserved it after a tough race. And it gave us one of only a few AbuDhabi races worthwile watching as well.

    5. James, no one suggested Lewis was trying to cause an accident, what he hoped, by slowing down was that the two drivers immediately behind overtook Nico, which unfortunately did not happen. There was nothing wrong or any suggestion that Lewis was being ‘dirty’, just a superb driver trying to win.

    6. An accident? James surely you have a higher opinion of these guys’ driving skills to assume that their racing together must cause a crash? Otherwise we must immediately ban having cars on the track together and settle for a time trial format. Zzzzzzzzz.

      These guys are the best of the best of the best etc. I want to see them race wheel to wheel all day.

    7. Anyone not just versed in golf could see that Sebastian intentionally did not put all the pressure he could on Rosberg as he saw what Hamilton was doing and chose not to risk putting Rosberg out to further Lewis’ agenda. BTW, I do not fault Lewis for his strategy. It was a sound and sporting one IMO. There was no rule preventing Nico from attempting to pass him if he was going so slowly (yes, I know he did the slow driving in the twisty bits and sped up in the prime overtaking areas).

  11. Spot on, exactly right.

    Lewis did nothing wrong, Nico should be commended for keeping it together under immense pressure and Mercedes should not have tried to interfere.

    Well said Joe.

    1. I have it very strange that any racing fan would question Lewis’ tactics. You do what you have to do within the rules especially as Mercedes had already decided that they wanted a 1/2 even though they had already won both Championships and it meant the approach wasn’t fair to the next guy.

  12. And Bravo Joe!!

    A wonderful, fair, objective and sporting commentary on yesterday’s world championship finale & ( let’s not forget) a RACE too!

    Thanks for putting some perspective on things,


    Geoff Farmer Derbyshire, UK

    Sent from my iPad

  13. What I still don’t understand: at some point in last part of the race, Nico must have realised why Lewis was so slow: trying to back him up into Vettel and Verstappen. Why didn’t he attack Lewis for first place – he was in DRS reach – and eliminate Lewis’ strategy? Would have been the perfect answer…

    1. Here’s why: Had Nico attempted to pass Lewis, he would have risked a collision. While a collision that took out both cars would have secured the championship for Nico, a collision that took out Nico but not Lewis would have handed the championship to Lewis.

  14. …and bravo Joe, well said. The Mercedes dominance has not been distasteful and off-putting, a commendable achievement.

  15. People may say that any other pilot would do the same; I say his actions are bad publicity for F1, for Mercedes, for his team and especially for himself as he proves again and again he doesn’t even has a notion about sportsmanship. In every other job he would be sacked on the spot!

    1. Why on earth would you even consider “Fleet Street” journalism as being worthy of respect? They don’t know anything about racing, they don’t care and they sit together and decide what the story is, so that they don’t get into trouble with their editors for missing something.

  16. Sebastian Verstappen and Max Verstappen – the next Schumacher brothers? 😉

    Hamilton was definitely entitled to do whatever he could to win the championship. The suggestion that he felt something was unfair seemed to stem from comments he made on Channel 4 – when asked if the better man won, he said “I don’t agree with that. I’ll leave that to your imagination”, and “Providing in the following years we are given equal cars there are more championships to win”.

    Guess some media folks just like to stir up news where there isn’t any…

  17. Couldn’t agree more Joe!
    Hamiltons control of the race was indeed masterful and extremely measured. The whole scenario could have ended in disaster but the true champions in charge of that destiny proved that, even in that pressure cooker environment, maturity prevailed!

  18. We should be glad that Nico is a gentleman. In his position certain others would have simply run into Lewis to stop him finishing. But Nico used his skill and experience to take the pressure and the strength of character not to lunge past Lewis blindly. His controlled restraint is as much a tribute to his skill as Lewis for the backing up and reserving electrical power for the last sector.

  19. Thanks Joe! My sentiments exactly. It was all right. More than alright, it was exciting. Whereas in the days of Monsieur Efficiency it would be all over before it started and I’d be switching off my television in disgust, wondering if I really want to continue torturing myself with the “sport” F1 has become.

  20. Agreed Joe.

    In Snooker do they just pot balls, or do they try to put their opponent into a snooker to force a mistake? Play within the rules to win, but always play to win.

    Fingers crossed for some better racing next season with more teams in the mix

  21. My eight year old daughter and 10 year old son were literally shouting and screaming at the TV with five laps to go. This was a sporting spectacle at it’s very finest, my only comment is that Lewis and Nico should have shaken hands in the pre-podium room where the eyes of the world are upon them. That would have been Sportsmanship at it’s finest.

    Bravo F1. Bravo Joe Saward for your horsesh1t free journalism.

  22. Not sure it’s fair to presume the intention was to back Nico into an accident – the start would be the best time to pull that one. But back him up to be overtaken, sure, but VET didn’t seem interested. The only question is why leave it so late? If only VES hadn’t spun it could have been very interesting.

    I’ve been trying to think of another time that a driver lost the championship to a clearly slower team mate. Of course it happens that the faster driver loses to a slower driver in a better car every few years, but in the same team? Maybe a couple of times in the late 70s, mentioning no names.

    Having said that, Nico deserves it at least as much as a few other champions down the years. LH has always had a few bad weekends per year, and unfortunately this year his mechanical failures shot away his margin for error.

    I struggle to think of another 3 year period in which the entire championship was between the same 2 drivers in the same team – a few examples of 2 consecutive years, but not 3. Let’s hope next year mixes it up a bit.

  23. Once again Joe’s words of wisdom give us hope that F1 will cut the amount of red tape and allow blokes to get on with the job on the track. Its what they’re paid for.

  24. Masterfully put, Jo. I found Hamilton’s tactics frustratingly maddening as I really wanted Rosberg to prevail but Lewis was perfectly within his rights and showed incredible mastery to keep the pressure on right until the flag. My blood pressure was shot to hell and I could barely watch the closing laps!

  25. Great article Joe, summing up what I was trying to explain to one of my students today, who should know better as they have a relative working at Mercedes. Usually they rave about Schumacher, so when they called Lewis a dirty driver I just laughed.

    My perception of Nico Rosberg as a driver has changed in the past few races, and I will always say he is a totally worthy champion; and there’s no doubt that Mercedes is a great team. This is a golden era of F1 racing.

  26. I wonder what you would have called Dennis who’s team you said were “sportsman” unlike others, when he declared “we were not racing KIMI (driving for FERRARI at the time), we were racing FERNANDO (driving for his own team) at the time, so much for being a sportsman.
    I also wonder what you would back then called Dennis when with his left hand he was offering TOTD a sort of pact while in his right hand he had a knife to stab him with (the flexi floor saga/spy-gate saga).
    I also wonder how you did not comment/mentioned what WOLFF had to say about his driver undermining a structure in public (his own team) means it is putting yourself before the team and that it is simply anarchy.

  27. And back Joe for being, as usual, a sole voice of reason.
    Thank you for another great season of sharing your wisdom and your thoughts.

  28. Spot on Joe! A very fitting writing for your blog post #4,770.

    One thing that hasn’t been mentioned much, and that you do mention here, is that the pressure that Lewis put on Nico yesterday and the way Nico handled it really makes Nico a worthy champion. In the past (like Austin ’15), Nico would easily crack under pressure. The fact that he has kept such a determined focus all this year is laudable.

    There are too many articles today asking whether he is a worthy champion… Well, for as much as I would have liked Lewis to win it again this year, Nico’s display yesterday leaves no doubt in my mind about his worthiness as a World Champion.

    Thank you also for highlighting Mercedes’s strategy and its positive impact on the sport. If RB had had the same approach in its dominance years, MW would have won a world championship…

  29. If there is such an uproar about one driver using completely legal tactics/strategy to help him win a WDC, then why have a WDC in the first place, and lets just cut to the chase and make it constructors only.. Sure it would get boring and kill off the majority of the fan base, and probably the sport, but hey…(and then let’s see what the whingers say). Also, there was nothing to stop Nico having a go at trying to actually win the race if Merc’s suggestion about them being free to race is indeed true. Would have at least made it more justifiable him wearing the champion’s crown. Think if the shoe was on anyone else’s foot they would have done the same as what Lewis did, rather than lay down and stop trying..

  30. Could not agree more, furthermore, it provided a true test for Nico and thus, more respect for his achievement to become WDC. This, and his calm showing in Brazil during circumstances he finds uncomfortable, shows that Nico didn’t win by luck alone (and nobody wins a WDC unless he’s lucky). I imagine that some part of him appreciates that he was put through a final challenge. Plus, Lewis did a fine job of backing him up (at some point I hoped it would get so bad for Nico that he’d have to try and overtake Lewis to prove his worth that way, but as it was, he did a great job staying calm). It made for a much more thrilling finale than would have otherwise been the case on such a dull circuit lay-out.

    More in general, I think F1 has been incredibly lucky that it was Mercedes who dominated the new formula. They are such gracious winners and such sportsmen that it made their dominance well worth watching. Imagine if Ferrari or Red Bull dominated like this (again). Only the team radio would be fun, then: “Seb, Multi 21 is faster than you, can you confirm?” – “#@$**%$$%@$$%^^**#*^ Honestly!” From one fan (who slept his way through the Ferrari and Red Bull eras) to Mercedes: thank you!

    Delphine did a nice job, Joe, I hope you and Toto (and the other attendants) had as much fun as the photo suggested! Congrats on the 500th and thank you for your reporting, honesty, integrity, and intelligence.

  31. it’s all fine. Lewis made Nico work hard to win the championship. Good for Nico, he finally became a worthy winner in this race. Good for Lewis, what skill to control a 200 mph race which such precision Not so good for Mercedes – just leave them alone to race! Always!

  32. Well said Joe.

    Nico wasn’t the only winner yesterday, F1 was as well. We all wanted the title decider to go down to the wire, and it did.

  33. I want to see our sportsmen as quality people Joe. If Lewis Hamilton had won a championship by backing his team mate into an accident it would be a hollow victory. Mercedes have had 1 and 2 sewn up in the F1 standings for three years now. It just follows that one of the Merc drivers has to come 2nd. This year was Lewis’ by having some bad luck and adversity. He did a brilliant job in getting so close considering his mechanical woes. How did you read the insinuation that “somebody” was sabotaging his title attempt earlier in the season?
    You ask in general what he did wrong?
    The way I see it, he carried on at times like a petulant, spoiled child at times including at Abu Dhabi. He would have won more admiration by driving off into the distance and letting the chips fall where they may. He is clearly a better driver than Nico, but whose luck was out in 2017 (10 wins to 9 says that).
    As great as he is, like Prost, Senna, Schumacher and Vettel, his willingness to be unsportsmanlike tarnishes his legacy.
    I say all these were great drivers, but flawed people.

    1. How many of us do not have a flaw in our character? Some sportsmen and women are able to take defeat in a Kiplingesque manner others can’t. Many criticise drivers for constantly speaking in carefully guarded PR speak. Hamilton is criticised for displaying his emotions. I am no massive fan of him and don’t think he can do no wrong, I follow the sport rather than individual drivers, but I find it refreshing that he says what he feels. I suspect there are very few drivers on the grid who wouldn’t have tried to do what Hamilton did on Sunday if they were in the same position and those that wouldn’t have done it are unlikely to find themselves in a position to do so. Like it or not to achieve at the top level of sport you have to be ruthless and have some serious self-obsession.
      Hamilton’s actions on Sunday turned what would have been a tedious procession into a fascinating and dramatic sporting event that now has us all talking on forums and at the water cooler about it. My son even stopped watching people I’ve never heard of on YouTube and became enthralled in the race.
      Incidentally whilst I have never met Hamilton I know some who have and they are immensely grateful for the time he spent with their family. He is far away from being a petulant child.

      1. I honestly think there is a difference between the psyche of the guys who win one WDC and Multiple WDC’s. Mansell, Hill, Button, Rosberg, Raikonnen. Nice, respectful guys who are a bit more laid back 1 WDC each. Alonso, Vettel, Schumacher, Prost, Senna multiple world champions who would have employed exactly the same tactics and would find it difficult to congratulate a team mate on a WDC title they believe should have been theirs.

        You have the same balance at Red Bull. I can see Ricciardo winning a WDC, but I can see Verstappen winning several.

        It takes ruthlessness. Gentleman’s racing went away a long time ago.

  34. Well done Joe. I totally agree!

    Some may argue that it was bad form, but it was certainly entertaining. Rosberg is quoted as saying he wasn’t against Lewis tactics, so it’s a weak position to be against it when neither driver is.

    Hamilton’s only wrong in the race was disobeying a team order. As Eddie Jordan says, no one is bigger than their team and their firstly an employee of the team. I sympathise with Hamilton and am glad he disobeyed, but am sympathetic with the team who need to trust their employees to follow direct orders. Toto is in a difficult position this morning. I think now that Hamilton has so openly defied them, he should be given team a punishment to maintain the authority over him and show consequence, otherwise they will loose credibility with their staff. I don’t like the team order, but I understand why it was the correct thing for them to give given that it severely threatened their team 1-2 finish.

    I think the way forward is to penalise Hamilton (he’s not going to care about an off track internal team penalty that doesn’t affect the championship anyway) and move on and not talk about it again.

    Looking generically at the blocking tactics, it could be argued as ungentlemanly, but if the drivers were always being, or being forced by rules to be gentlemanly it would make for a very boring racing formula. It’s like the Rosberg/Hamilton incident in Austria – arguably ungentlemanly, but within the rules, and I would hold the incidents in the same category.

    I don’t think Hamilton should be penalised by the Stewards for Abu Dhabi and likewise I don’t think Rosberg should have been penalised for the Austria incident. I believe it set a bad precedent. Especially when the move Lewis made on Rosberg in turn one in Canada was similar and in fact more aggressive but cost Hamilton no penalty. I didn’t like that Rosberg was penalised for his pass on Raikkonen in Malaysia, but there was a stronger argument for that penalty because the contact resulted in damage. There was also a pass Rosberg made on Verstappen in the 3rd quater of the season (I forget which race) that was unfairly penalised this year. Lewis may have had more mechanical failures this year, but Rosberg has overcome a pro-Hamilton and consistent mild bias against him in the stewards room. A notable failure this year has been inconsistent stewarding, but to give some slack, this is very, very hard to get right. Hopefully some very smart people can help improve this next year.

    Rosberg victory over Hamilton this year is mostly defined by more consistent starts off the start line and impressively not getting drawn into and beaten by Hamilton’s mind games. He stuck to his “focus on this race only” and blocked out the rest. His racing winning streak of 7 wins in a row starting at the end of last year, when he has Hamilton in the sister car is truly a mark of his talent. It’s only a shame that he seemed to be giving it 99% in the last few races of the season as the pressure of the championship was mounting up, otherwise I feel he would have won this championship by a bigger margin.

    Overall, Hamilton’s blocking tactics were not the defining moment of the championship. For me the Championship was defined by the excellence of the Mercedes car this year, Hamilton’s up’s and downs in form and machinery, and Rosbergs dogged determination and amazing overcoming of a celebrated and talented team-mate. I tip my hat to a truly worthy champion and healthy family role model in how live life and conduct yourself in professional life.

  35. What an exciting end to the season, I was on the edge of my seat for those last laps, especially the brilliant way (apart from the last couple of laps) that Lewis managed to pull out just over a second to Nico before the two DRS zones. It was a beautiful piece of racing. The fact that Nico soaked up the pressure so well helps in my mind cement this championship as his. Great stuff, roll on 2017.

  36. “Rule number one in Formula 1 is that you never give up a competitive car”, if only Alonso had thougt the same at the end of 2007..

  37. Thank you for your clear, articulate and sensible article. With talk of Mercedes “disciplining” Lewis I hope it gets read by Mercedes management. Perhaps you could send them a copy, if you have not done already!

  38. Lewis knows that Nico would have done the same thing if the situation was reversed. It’s racing.

    It’s a good cover story for Mercedes costing Lewis the title through engine failures and other mechanical issues.

  39. Joe, I strongly agree with both your words and your sentiments. In order to win the championship, Lewis’ only option was to back Nico into his pursuers. Perfectly legal, not even naughty, just good hard racing.
    The normally savvy Martin Brundle was talking as though World War 3 would erupt after the race, with Lewis in very serious trouble with both Nico and Mercedes. Joe – is there any likelihood of this happening or was Mr Brundle’s producer tweaking his nipples ?

  40. Spot on!

    Those trying to criticise Hamiltons actions should remember Monaco ’14.

    That being said it was the right result and I was happy for Rosberg who has done an incredible job up against Hamilton in the prime of his career.

    Reading Lewis’ body language and also listening to the rumours about the aftermath of Barcelona I can’t help feeling that Lewis is very unhappy at present. You can tell that he feels that the team have favoured Rosberg. I’m not saying that is correct but listening to Lewis he certainly feels this way. I can’t help wondering if he will be in a Mercedes in Australia.

  41. Surely the simple answer to all the fuss about Lewis is this: If he had been 12 points behind Vettel in a Ferrari in the race and had to back him up into other drivers to win the championship would Merc have told him to speed up and win the race but lose the drivers title to a driver in a different team? And the answer most certainly would have been NO, if it would be fair tactics inter teams then it’s also fair tactics intra team! what if it had been the manufacturers title on the line and not just the drivers, then Merc would tell him to do whatever it takes to back someone up into traffic!

  42. Another balanced summary Joe, not to the taste of the Fleet Street editors but there you are. The worst accusation you could level at LH is that “he drove a bit slowly”; imagine the headlines and hysteria if there had been a Prost/Senna or Schumacher/Villeneuve conclusion. I thought everyone played it professionally and Merc were only covering themselves with their pit wall communiques which they knew would fall on deaf ears. It reminded me of the scene in the Battle of Britain film when the Polish pilots were given repeated orders to return to base but responded with “Repeat please, repeat please”.

  43. Thank you Joe, the press seem full of the negatives. Any driver would try to win a championship. It was a race full of intrigue to the end and great to watch.

  44. I beg to differ.

    Whilst I accept Hamilton did nothing illegal, his last lap was 9 seconds slower than his pole time and there’s no rule against that, it was unpleasant to watch such a talented individual stoop to such a lowly tactic. Fine at the Formula Ford Festival where you are individuals racing but when you are representing a team who pay for your lifestyle?

    Could you imagine Clark backing up teammate Hill into a pack in similar circumstances? Or Moss backing up his Mercedes teammate Fangio into a pack of Maseratis or Ferraris? Sporting standards have slipped and I think it’s a damn shame that’s all.

    Maybe it’s my age…

      1. In years past people just drove each other off the track to win tittles (Senna, Schumi etc.), you prefer that? The only real problem with what we saw was that it had little effect because the Merc is simply in a class of its own. If Vettel and others had been in the mix earlier and tried passing Nico, who would not have loved to see that?

    1. No John, its not your age – there are examples of a far higher standard of sportsmanship when F1 truly was a sport. Just look up the 1956 finale and what Peter Collins did to enable his teammate and championship rival to win it.

      Even in the modern era of motorsport, Jorge Lorenzo came to the conclusion that it was wrong to race in such a manner during the 2013 MotoGP finale. He initially adopted the tactic of trying to back Marquez into slower riders but concluded this wasn’t right and in the essence of the sport. He abandoned the tactic after the initial few laps despite it meaning he was handing the title to his compatriot and rival.

      1. One needs to be real. Sport is a commercial activity and we can only hope for people like Mercedes. Todt’s way is the option.

        1. Lorenzo is quite open. He adopted that tactic from lap 2. He only abandoned it when he saw that the other Honda riders were not going to interfere and Rossi was too slow. He quite openly states that had those factors not influenced him, he’d have ridden that way from lights to flag. As to the other drivers, Moss didn’t win a WDC and probably regrets being quite the gent and Fangio was totally mercenary in his choice of teams, something Hamilton was also accused of (amongst many other things) over the race.

        2. Todt’s way is an option, not the option. Another option is for Hamilton to have behaved differently. Several have expressed the view that some great racers of past eras would not done what Hamilton did in Abu Dhabi.

        3. Another alternative has been used in the past Joe : during the Prost – Senna era at McLaren Honda in the 80ies : unequal treatment between both drivers to gîve an Edge (engine) to one driver (senna) to make sure the Brazilian wins. This is more vicious than team orders or picking the winner with a coin. So for me McLaren cannot be put in the same “pure sportsman” basket as williams for example.

          1. I have never believed that the team did that. Usually these tings are myths created by the drivers who cannot handle being beaten.

      2. Sorry Bob, Lorenzo himself stated on C4 that tying that tactic in 2013 failed to work because
        A) Rossi was too far behind to make an impact
        B) too many Honda riders around. Ie they’d support Marquez and Honda for title over Yamaha.
        When he realised he took off to secure the race victory.

      3. Is it right that Peter Collins did what he did in 1956? Was that really sporting?

        What if Piquet had been told to do something similar in 1986 so that Mansell could win the title over Prost? How sporting would that have been? How fair would that have been to either Piquet or Prost?

          1. The past might be a foreign country, but admirable standards of behaviour are as recognisable to day as they were then.

          2. Joe – that’s a surprisingly pessimistic outlook from yourself. There were drivers even during that era who were not prepared to abide by such high standards (Musso in that same very race being the obvious example). Even in today’s commercially dominated world, the majority of sports do indeed show great instances of sportsmanship. Examples include Jack Sock in tennis earlier this year, Paulo Di Canio against Everton back in 2000 catching the ball rather than scoring against the injured keeper, Arsenal replaying Sheffield United after a goal was from a throw in that should have been played back to the opposition, Phelps stepping aside in a team relay event to give another member of the team a chance for Olympic Gold, Andy Roddick overruling a match point decision against Verdasco that would have given him the match, Oliver Kahn consoling the opposition keeper after winning the Champions League while his teammates rejoiced, Shawn Crawford giving up his Silver medal in Beijing to one of the two disqualified athletes because he felt it was ‘rightfully his’ – the last time I can remember F1 demonstrating such levels of sportsmanship was back in the last century, but then F1 is no longer a true sporting contest and has let commercial interests overtake sporting ones which may explain where we have got to with the competition..

    2. I think it is called being sporting John, and it is not your age, standards in motorsport really started to tumble when Senna was in F3, and his ” win at all costs ” attitude was not challenged by Stewards at British race meetings, and by the RAC MSA. Toleman had the right attitude when they suspended Senna for a race for an underhand contractual breach. If the FIA had treated Senna the same, then the way that motorsport struggles against dirty driving ( and i’m not saying Hamilton was driving that way on Sunday ), but the whole ethos of the sport would be better in my view.
      Senna was an amazing driver a special personality, but he should not have been allowed to feel he was greater than the sport. Bernie no doubt had a lot to do with that as it was good box office, but it allowed other great drivers, Schumacher for one, to act badly, and the attempts to now put the genie back in the bottle are cackhanded, when Stewards apply them in F1! Since the rise of Senna, the cult of flawed driving genius has been supported, and that isn’t the way any sport should try to attract fans.

      1. The world has changed since the 1980s and sportsmanship is a very different thing. You can wish that it will go back to being what it was before, but it is not going to happen. Therefore it is best to get on and live with the world as it, rather than as you think it should be.

        1. It is strange to read your acceptance on the current lack of sportsmanship evident in F1, yet at the same time you were not prepared to accept the status quo of the mire of mismanagement that F1 had found itself in due to the actions of the governing body and commercial rights holder. Why the aspirational ideals for one scenario but apathy for the other?

            1. This statement states the obvious but explains little with regard to the acceptance or rejection of the status quo of either.

    3. I just don’t see why Hamilton’s driving is being qualified as unsportsmanlike. Don’t we expect a sportsman to fight until the last moment? Was the drive behind Lewis’s actions in Abu Dhabi any different than the one that pushed his attack in the final laps in Austria this year? What was different this time was Nico’s reaction to the circumstances.

      They were many options open to Lewis, some pointed out by Joe: running out in the distance, forcing Nico off the track, etc.. If Lewis had run in the distance I’m sure he would have been described by the majority as being a spoiled brat trying to make a useless point. And Nico’s title would have lost some shine.

      What if he was 9 seconds below is qualifying pace? What prevented Nico from out-driving him and passing him?

      The many examples brought up in the comments here refer to many instances when a sportsman was correcting a “wrong”, be it a wrong referee decision or a wrong circumstances. There was nothing like this in Abu Dhabi: it was about trying to change the scales of fate without bending the rules.

      In the end, it was Lewis’s, Nico’s and Seb’s sportsmanship that gave Nico a well deserved title while giving this final race a thrill . Up until that last race, I was convinced that Nico would get the title because he had more luck on reliability than Lewis this year. that’s not the best way to be remembered. I am now convinced that he won the title because he is a sheer hard-worker. You do not get a title after 10 years and 206 GP starts out of luck.

      It’s too bad that Mercedes screwed up the show with their coded messages to Hamilton. Without these, there would be no “controversy” today and everybody involved would shine more.

      It’s also too bad to see so much bias in the reporting on several outlets. I used to think the BBC was quite fair; not anymore. Thanks again Joe for your blog and GP+, and for always keeping things in perspective.

  45. I thought both Merc drivers were superb. Hamilton did all he could to make it difficult for Rosberg without using questionable tactics (Prost/Senna x2, Schumacher/Hill, Schumacher/Villenueve etc.) and Rosberg soaked up the pressure and dealt with it extremely well. It’s the tactics of the sport and they both should be applauded for how they performed in the circumstances.

  46. The only response that really matters is Nico’s. Even he never suggested it was unfair or unsporting. He mostly seemed exhausted with keeping away from ‘crazy Verstappen’ and totally understood what Lewis did. He more or less admitted on Sky, had the roles been reversed, he probably would have tried the same thing.

  47. Sometimes I wonder if people ever did a bit of competition on their lives: five-a-side football in a sunday morning, amateur road cycling racing, anything.
    When you really want to win, you try everything at hand. To be sporting is to do it within the rules.
    Lewis did what he had to, and unlike some past champs, within the rules : to play dirty is to pull off an Adelaide 94 or a Jerez 97, so Vettel should just shut his mouth (I’m actually a Schumy/Ferrari fan, go figure).
    And Rosberg did what he had to do, even if it meant whinning about Lewis’ slowness. It didn’t seem very heroic, but it’s all about maximizing your winning chances: he played his cards, was smart and resisted the temptation, thus winning the ultimate prize.
    Congrats to him, and let’s hope that with the max aero of 2017 we are going back to 1998-2005, when no one passed each other. People only realize what they have lost when they no longer have it.

    1. I raced Formula Ford years ago. This season there has only been one boy’s demonstration of driving which I found unsporting, unethical and downright disgusting. Verstappen’s in Spa with kimi and his moving under braking in other events.

      Any driver that attempted that behaviour with me or my contemporaries would have been sought out post race and received an unofficial warning without race control getting involved 😉

      As to the new regs going back to 1998 etc, there was still some competition then. What concerns me with these new aero focused regs is Red Bull becoming the dominant force again. Once again the rule makers have taken advice from inmates at the asylum

      1. Thanks for the reply. Oh yes, I found it weird too that so many people found Verstappen’s swerving at 300kmh. The argument being that racing drivers have better reflexes than everyone else: not sure how they still keep making mistakes and crashing at much smaller speeds. The first and most important safety device remains the driver’s brain, which reminds me of the 90’s when the old boys would try to squeeze the throats of the infractors right in the pitlane, to give them some ‘education’ 😀

        As an ex-FF racer I suppose you’re also of the school that good racing comes from small aero and power galore (even if that’s bit is unlike FF)? I actually meant to say that I hope we are not going back to 98: the Mclaren/Ferrari wars were enjoyable, and so was Williams’ short resurgence, but jeez, it was a pitstop battle back then. These new rules are indeed perfect for Newey… If this current crop of cars had even less aero, and above all, more durable and predictable (not to say sticky) tires, they would be quite entertaining to watch. While Nascar and Indy are taking the smaller aero route to up the show, we are going backwards.

        1. Small aero and big power. Isn’t that what the 70’s was about? Wonderful.

          Now as to the infractions…. I found a friend wielding a Snap-on torque wrench behind the pit garages worked wonders lol 😆 of course just to make sure their tyres were fitted safely…

  48. After that race I think Hamilton has to pass his “still I rise” logo off to Rosberg. Rosberg in the post race interviews looked spent, “if Vettel got by me then I had Mad Max” the anguish in his facial expression just thinking about having to deal with Verstappen at that point of the race will become a classic.

  49. Then I guess Nico would not let Lewis by anymore like he did in Monaco. The points Lewis gained there could have made a difference now. A championship is the culmination of a whole season, changing the modus operandi for the last race is strange in that respect.

    Anyway the result indeed showed Nico cold handle the pressure.

  50. I agree 100% with you, Joe. But one question comes to my mind. If all this is true, why is Hamilton asking if Rosberg is a worthy champion? It’s something I’ve read elsewhere (The Guardian, if my memory serves me well), Hamilton asking Vettel to congratulate the worthy champion (note the irony).

    1. He didn’t come across rather well post-race. Yes he’s competitive and the adrenaline must have still been coursing through his veins however in most sporting circles (tennis, motogp, rugby and athletics), when everything is done and dusted, the runner up congratulates the winner to demonstrate good grace – this did not come across as something Lewis wanted to do which casts him in a poor light.

    2. I don’t think anyone is claiming that Lewis is perfect. To be world champion you need to be ruthless, certainly not perfect human beings. There’s the old adage “never meet your heroes”. Many of us would perhaps be disappointed if we met and got to know our heroes – the reality is that they’re human just like all of us, with many of the flaws that we all have. Think of Vettel, Schumacher, Senna, Mansell, Prost, Piquet, Hunt, Lauda et al. Perhaps we put people on too high a pedestal and then take delight in knocking them down. How do some get to be the best in the world? By being driven, ruthless, unswerving, selfish, uncompromising.

      1. By putting Vettel ahead of Schumi and Senna showed that you are biased.

        Don’t get me wrong I am a Schumi fan, but I wouldn’t defend him when he played dirty.

  51. Agree with you Joe but in saying that would love to see the team under pressure from another team & then see if they would let them race ?

    Saying that it’s not their fault that the teams couldn’t develop enough during the season or was it , didn’t Toto agree in principle to relax that rules on development till the bosses said no way ?

    Still a good finish to the season enjoy the break

  52. There are Championships won with honour and Championships won at any cost – such as in the Senna or Schumacher ‘ram your opponent off the road ‘ mode.

    Gilles Villeneuve could have taken a Championship by simply passing a slower team mate Jody Schecter at Monza all those years ago. But he had signed a contract forbidding that and keeping his word was more important to him than a Championship. Ditto Peterson with Andretti. Honorable men. Greats who never took a Championship.

    To the likes of Hamilton, ‘victory’ comes at any price.

    1. You imply that honourable means obeying ones contract of employment. Is there any evidence that Hamilton did not ? Unless you can produce such evidence Hamilton qualifies as honourable on your terms. He is of course fortunate that his value to the team means that he doesn’t have to sign such restrictive clauses.

    2. 1) Funny, how Senna rams a rival off the road, yet this was in retribution for 1989 when Prost drove into Senna to revert him overtaking. Prost was the instigator, supported by the corrupt Balestre at the time.

      2) it’s romantic nonsense to suggest that Villeneuve was forbidden from passing Scheckter. They had race each other throughout the season. But in 1979, only the best 4 results from both halves of the season counted.

      Alan Jones and Williams were a serious threat for the title and Jody could win with victory in Monza. Villeneuve needed to win in Monza, Canada and Watkins Glen to be able to claim the title.

      As to Peterson, an astounding natural talent but back then both Fittipaldi and Andretti engineered their cars to outperform the Swede

      1. There was an agreement and Gilles stuck to it. It’s not romantic nonsense. But sport has changed because things do change and so you cannot compare the past with the present

        1. It’s romantic nonsense in the sense that there was a forbidding contract. There wasn’t.

          They had fought for races all season and Scheckter happened to be in position to take the title at Monza. GV was not. Hence the agreement whigh undoubtedly was issued by a certain patriarch..

          What has happened in the intervening years is Villeneuve’s unfortunate fatality and subsequently all accounts by the press blaming Pironi. This has made GV’s previous examples somehow pure.

          If Rosberg is unworthy of a title because Lewis sits in the other Merc, do we assume thst Jody Scheckter is unworthy too?

          In Italy 1979, he qualified two places ahead of Gilles and in interviews has confirmed that despite the ‘agreemen’ he was prepared for a battle and over the last two laps actually raced to the flag.

          Gilles was honourable, but isn’t it interesting that a contemporary was aware of the competitive instinct back in the 70’s?

    3. First problem with the Villeneuve/Scheckter example is that there were still 2 races to go and therefore no one knew where the results would end up, especially with the ridiculous points system in place that year (best 4 results in first 7 races + best 4 in final 8 races). Plus there’d then be a bunch of people moaning how Scheckter (57 total if switch Monza result) outscored Villeneuve (56) but the system “stole” the championship.

  53. Great article and a worthy read. I hated Mercedes trying to force Lewis to speed up. Both of their drivers knew exactly what they were doing. And we as fans of the sport were subject to some masterful driving by Lewis and Nico. None of us knew what the outcome was going to be, even on the last lap. When was the last time any of us saw racing like that? Fans of both drivers were on the edge of our seats and only when the flag dropped were we able to breath again. It wasn’t a great race by any count, but the latter half was exciting.

  54. Lewis did nothing against the rules but did disobey his team (which isn’t against the rules), it could have cost Mercedes the win and a collision as a result of being backed up would have been an awful way for Nico to miss out.

    I do really take issue with Hamilton putting Nico’s achievement down repeatedly going on about his engine problems and him having more than Nico, it’s over Lewis, give him credit. These things balance out over time, I hope if Lewis has better reliability than Nico next year he acknowledges it. I don’t recall Massa saying it was unfair due to his DNFs in 2008

    1. Because it’s true. Everyone is banging on about Nico’s new found focus, determination, driving better than ever blah blah blah but the reality is he was dominated by a very similar margin to the previous 2 seasons. He only won by 5 points despite having basically 4 free races while Hamilton was having engine woes. With similar reliability the result would have been identical to the previous seasons. Fair play to Nico for hanging in there and picking up the pieces and the history books will only note that he’s the champ, there are no asterisks attached but lets not pretend that Nico did anything special. It’s far more a case of Hamilton had it taken away than Nico went out and won it.

  55. Spot on as usual Joe. I can’t understand the moaners at all, we were treated to an absolute masterclass in tactical driving, kept on the edge of our seats until the final corner of the final race and as such Mercedes got perhaps even more exposure than they would have otherwise done. If you’re a Nico fan then be happy he won and was made to earn it, if you’re a Lewis fan, be happy he gave it everything and if you’re an F1 fan be happy that Mercedes understand their obligations to the sport in letting their drivers race.

  56. Nicely balanced piece of informed journalism. Another phrase that was running through my mind as I watched from the edge of my seat was from Fangio. “My philosophy is to win the race at the slowest possible speed”.

  57. Hi Joe
    All of this is true but…
    I have to ask a question that (it seems to me) nobody have asked.

    – If you were Vettel would you overtake Nico to earn 2nd and maybe give your nemesis a 4th title if VAS too overtakes ROS… or stay where you are and just pretend you fight like hell but stay the one and only 4 titles champion on the track 🙂

  58. Mercedes should not have tried ‘interfere’?

    Just what does a team of 1500 talented, people working incredibly hard and at great cost to put the best car on the grid get to DO if they see a win for their efforts being compromised by one individuals ambition or desire?

  59. well said!
    If the plan succeeded,
    I was curious how Hamilton planned to fight a storming Vettel ( in 2nd ) while backing up Vettel and Rosberg (3rd) into Max (4th).

    He would have had to control the pace until Max also passed Rosberg, before shooting off into the distance.

    If he had pulled THAT off, he would have deserved the WDC.

  60. I think that may have identified my earliest exposure to your writing, Joe! If it was in Autosport. Piecharts and Peugeuot. And that style of reporting the conversation. That year almost certainly was the first year I read anything about motorsports. I was big on daydreaming about the rally, then… coincidence? 🙂

  61. If the situations had been reversed I am sure Nico would have done exactly the same. Nico now says it does not need looking at.

    He may not be as fast as Lewis but he played his cards well this year. Well done Nico.

  62. I was a bit dumbfounded when I heard about Toto”s comments. lewis did what anyone going for the championship would do…. providing they are as bright as Lewis. Congratulations to Nico, Lewis, and the entire Mercedes-Benz team!

  63. Bravo Joe spot on. Total respect for both drivers ,but Nico proved he was worthy champion . Can’t wait for next year!

  64. I’m wondering if this dim German you are talking about,was somebody from RTL ( the German Tv broadcaster ). They always have very awkward ideas how things work in f1. It’s a shame that those people get the most attention in the wide public.

      1. Sounds like K. E or H. W. or F. K. Definitely not Christian Danner, he was arguing Lewis’ case as the completely logical thing a driver will do if this is his only chance.

  65. I suspect many of yesterday’s sound bites were for the German media.

    What we the viewers and the lucky race goers got was an agonising will he won’t he last 15 laps which left my fingernails bitten and my fingers raw. I’m sure the Rosberg fans and even Vettel fans were the same.

    If Lewis had scampered off and set fastest lap after fastest lap it would have been a relatively boring race with Nico declared champion near the end and a VIP congratulating him on his victory with 2 corners to go.

    Instead Lewis did the only thing he could and as a reward he didn win the championship. But he gave us the race of the season.

  66. “Ferrari dictated who won. Red Bull too. Mercedes, McLaren and Williams never did. ” Well, if I recall correctly, after the (self inflicted) demise of Schumi in Jerez ’97, didn’t Williams and Mclaren decide the outcome of the race? I understood Villeneuve was ordered to let the McLaren pass and David was ordered to let Mika win unchallenged?
    Having recalled that, it didn’t change the outcome of the championship, if that was your point.

    1. Well, it must be that my English is not too good, but is Joe implying that Williams never gave their drivers orders about how they should finish a race?

      How about the “JONES-REUT” pit-board on the Brazil GP of 1981 that Reutemann chose to disobey?

      Other than that, I agree that Lewis drove a great race. And Nico too.

  67. Very much agree with your sentiments Joe. Too many mixed messages from Toto and Niki who say they want the drivers to race then in the next sound bite want to sleep on it. Lewis’s quote said it all in the end.

  68. Absolutely spot on Joe. Lewis had no choice but to back Nico into the pack. Lewis is a fighter and winner; now that is motor “RACING”! It made great drama and an epic sporting spectacle.

    Lewis was unlucky this year with unreliability. But unreliability played a much more major role in the years gone by when cars would break down every other race. There are probably countless drivers over the years who lost a world title because of unreliability.

    Personally, I cannot wait until next season and the faster, wider and more spectacular looking (and performing?) cars. It should sort the men from the boys, and Lewis should excel.

  69. Joe you nailed it ……

    Nico is a worthy champion, Lewis drove a superb race, Mercedes should be congratulated on dominating 2016……

    Roll on F1 2017….

  70. What Lewis did on track was fine by me, it’s what any racing driver worth his salt would do, and I respect that. However his attitude and what he said after the race when interviewed is sadly something I don’t and will never respect. The sport lost two great drivers this week with the retirement of both Mass and Button. Two finer ambassadors for Formula 1 you could not find. Brilliant in the car without doubt, but more importantly they both acted with class and dignity when out of it. The finest example of this was Interlagos 2008 when Massa was robbed of his only chance of a title on the last corner by the actions of Timo Glock, which gifted Hamilton with one of his many title. There was no petulant outburst afterwards against his team or rival, or mention of “being the moral champion.”
    You can buy all the toys you want, but you can’t buy class. Congratulations to Nico Rosberg on his well-deserved championship win. Sometime nice guys do win.

    1. The guy who deliberately parked his car at Monaco 14 qualifying is a nice guy? He was only let off by the blatantly biased Derek Warwick.

        1. I can’t think of anyone more honest and less susceptible to hyperbole than Derek. Direct, to the point and with a wicked sense of humour too.

  71. Satisfying end to this year’s championship: Lewis Hamilton being angry with himself, quoting reliability problems in every interview and throwing his toys out of the pram. Thanks Lewis for making it an exciting end and for doing your best to ignore the newly crowned champion.

    This is why Lewis is so polarising, he’s the fastest on the grid but when it comes to taking a deep breath, being professional and congratulating the winner, his inner petulant child comes out again and he just can’t do it!

  72. It was a brilliant final 10 laps or so. You just did not know what was going to happen. What Lewis did ( which was fine by me ) added credability to Nico’s championiship IMO due to the way Nico dealt with the pressure. I just wish Lewis could be more gracious in losing instead of banging on about his mechanical failures this year.

    Looking forward to 2 redbulls getting involved in the mix next year.

  73. Thanks Joe for this eloquent post. You have voiced the opinion of many fans like me who believe that lewis and nico drove exceptiionally well and there was nothing dirty about lewis’ strategy.

    I do however wish that Lewis could have been more gracious in defeat. May be he was but unfortunately it never came across on tv. If you look at current tennis pros – djokovic, federer etc. – they are quite gracious in defeat. Hamilton is a legendary driver. Yesterday he missed a chance to be a legendary sportman.

  74. It was the only race I have watched this season, but it provided a decent enough race with interest for most viewers.

    I agree with Joe that Lewis was doing what was right for him and it did make for a much more entertaining race, especially when Vettel powered up at the end on the super-soft tyres.

    Mercedes seemed unable to cope with the changing situation at times, but surely they know what would happen?

    Haven’t read all of GP+ yet, but that’s for tonight.

  75. Very good summary. Joe.

    I have never seen a drive like Lewis’s yesterday. Hard, calculated and as Johnny Herbert said, bloody difficult to pull off. Hats off to Nico, as well. I expected him to buckle, but he did exactly what he needed to do.

    However, thinking over the season, and looking at the total wins column, I can’t shake the feeling I had in 1989 when Post took the title, despite Senna winning 6 races to Prost’s 4. The better driver didn’t win it, but lost it. The Malaysia failure alone lost it this year.

    Maybe there is something to be said for Bernie’s gold medal system? 😉

  76. I disagree. McLaren, Williams etc let the 2x drivers fight it out by going as fast as possible. Bringing 3rd parties into it by slowing down is not comparable to McLaren, Williams etc. By forcing Nico into clutches of cars behind risked a crash as Nico would have to defend. HARD.
    As you always point out Jo, he (or she) who pays for the show/wages/company, is entitled to call the shots. Lewis is an employee and should do what he’s told by his Boss. Just like Nico did when he let Lewis past at Monaco (not sure if he was ‘told’ or not, but either way he played the ‘Team Man’).
    It would have been nice for Lewis to repay the compliment but I’m not surprised he didn’t.
    I’m not a ‘fan’ or either driver so I’m saying this as a Neutral.

  77. Whilst I fully agree with this very good post I would just like to add that it is good and well for Mercedes to play the ‘no orders game’ and act as if this is their philosophy because they know it is a two horse internal race. It will be interesting to see how much their drivers are allowed to race each other if a Ferrari or Red Bull is truly in the mix next year. I’m pretty sure the Germans will go for efficiency without a blink.

  78. Over the last two races Lewis has given a master class in different ways to win and in each he was unbeatable but that doesn’t change the fact that Nico deserves the championship. Each has had their off days when the other has made hay but Lewis has had more of them and in the end the engine failure in Malaysia doesn’t change that.

  79. Hear hear , the merc’s had so much in hand over everyone there was never any threat with speed.Maybe they were slow because they had so much fuel left!
    Even Usain Bolt looks over his shoulder when he’s winning.

  80. I really dislike Hamilton but I must admit he did a really good job driving this way.

    Hamilton should have tried this tactic 3 or 4 races back instead of waiting at the last race. It would have been less evident then. Maybe he did and nobody noticed. I have to watch the video of the last races to check.

      1. I have the general feeling that he is faking all the time when he speaks . He’s not showing me that he’s really honest.

        When Gilles Villeneuve was talking, we all knew he was sincere. I don’t have the same feeling about Lewis at all.

        I disliked also MSchumacher because I felt the same about him.

        1. You want honesty, take Rosberg before and after the race. All year long he was robot like repeating his one race at a time mantra. After he won he was whining on and on at how difficult it was, the pressure, disbelief that Max was there again and so on. This is the real Rosberg. You’ll recall that at the end of 2015 Hamilton revealed that Rosberg whined all the time… well the proof is in the post tv interviews from the race

  81. Spot on Joe.

    Who expected to Lewis to adopt any others action’s.?

    I bet that secretly Mercedes management expected that situation to unfold.

  82. It was a entertaining race which is what everyone wanted. I’m sure with all the drivers you’ve know over the years Joe if you wrote down a list of them who would have done the same thing or worse it would be a pretty big list!

  83. Hamilton faces sack over behaviour in Abu Dhabi

    This is the headline on a Supposed Grandprix website What a joke……. In any industry if he did anything wrong ( which I for one don’t think he did) it would be at most a written warning , it’s hardly gross misconduct or acting in a predudicial way ……

  84. Now, let’s get some things straight:
    Williams indeed have let their drivers race But when exactly was that relevant? About 20 years ago. To illustrate: Alonso this year was not overly concerned if Button sometimes did beat him. Were Bottas/Massa fighting for the championship – who knows…
    As for McLaren, please don’t give us this shit. I still remember Coulthard being sent out on dry tyres in dangerous conditions so that Mika would know when to switch to (groved) slicks. There were many other cases. Of course, McLaren has not really figured in the title fight for quite a while as well, so their tricks are rather well forgotten now.

    1. Didn’t McLaren order Lewis to not fight with Alonso in the Monaco GP during their single season together too?

  85. I’ve avidly read your blog for years, and never yet thanked you for it. So, thank you, Joe. Your blog rocks!

    As for the world championship: much as I think Hamilton is a brilliant driver, I was rooting for Rosberg. Though Hamilton had no other option open to him, except backing them all up, it’s the perception that counts, and by doing that he appeared to be a bit of a sore loser. It’s not something I think James Hunt would have done.

    Perhaps Hamilton had plans for his bonus that are now on hold. Poor chap. Still, never mind. I’m sure they’ll both be bosom buddies again next season.

  86. So Lewis did all he had to do to win the race and try to win the championship. I get that. But what if Nico had done all he needed to do to win the championship by “accidentally” running into the back of Lewis’s car (he was going so slow) and doing a Schumacher/Hill to ensure that he won. Racing incident? Not the right way to win and certainly unsporting (not that that seems to matter in this age), but if winning at any cost is now ok, well…… Would everybody be hailing or criticizing Nico today I wonder.

    If after the Team ‘instruction’ Lewis had sped up – he had already made his point and it was very unlikely that his strategy was going to work – he would have won the race, Nico would deservedly win the championship and both drivers would be applauded for a fantastic season. He might have even shown some warmth and genuine support for Nico on the podium. Wait, what am I thinking…….

    1. The ironic thing is that Lewis’ final lap was ~9 seconds slower than his pole time. Had a back marker been setting such times, they’d be castigated as a ‘danger to other drivers’…yet because it’s happening at the front of the grid this was deemed acceptable. Double standards methinks..

      1. Doubt it’s ironic but anyway…

        Lewis’s final lap was his 2nd slowest lap of the race (not including in/out laps nor first lap). Kimi Raikkonen’s final lap was 2s slower than Hamilton’s (and almost 10s slower than his qualifying time). Grosjean’s final lap was similar in speed to Hamilton’s (and 1.5s slower than his own 2nd last lap).

        So Hamilton’s ‘dangerous’ lap was faster than the final lap of Raikkonen, Grosjean, Ericsson, Perez, Nasr, Alonso, Massa, Gutierrez, Hulkenberg, Palmer and Wehrlein.

        Hamilton’s ‘dangerous’ lap was also about 1 second slower than Nasr’s fastest lap (Nasr was the driver with the slowest fastest lap of those who finished the race). Of Nasr’s 55 laps, he only went faster than Hamilton’s final lap on 10 occassions – the first of which wasn’t until lap 38.

        1. Elphino – I never stated that the lap was dangerous, just that had this situation occurred at the back of the grid (or even during a practice session for that matter), the drivers (and team principles) for the leading teams would be highly critical of it – nothing more, nothing less.

          1. You didn’t state Hamilton’s lap was dangerous but you insinuated it by suggesting other drivers would be called a danger to others. The problem with your argument is that Lewis wasn’t that slow. He could have gone faster but his fastest lap made him the 5th fastest driver. His last lap was 2.1s slower than that. His consistency through the race was astonishing for someone trying to back up the pack. If you look at the finishing times, Lewis held up 3 drivers out of 21 other drivers on the track.

      2. I think the difference is that they were racing for position, albeit slowly. A back marker running slowly is getting in the way of faster cars they are not racing. The only car where HAM compromised their pace was the one he was immediately racing.

  87. Great piece of rational thought when most people let themselves be taken by ” emotion”.When can we start subscribing for GP+ for 2017?

  88. In most sports attempts by owners, managers or competitors to influence the result by persuading a competitor to not try as hard as possible to win are considered not only against the rules of the sport but criminal acts. Cricketers have gone to prison for this. So why is it considered OK in Formula 1? If I had had money on Lewis to win the WDC I would consider what Mercedes tried to do to be fraud.

    1. Gordon: No one forces you to bet on F1. Don’t go all over the top mentioning fraud. Perhaps you should consider suing an engine part supplier to Merc next because it affected the WDC? (shakes head)

  89. ” Lewis did a brilliant job ” Hmm .. an interesting albeit extremely Brit based and biased perspective in light of AMG Mercedes reaction to Will iLewis’s refusing to follow team orders . Suffice it to say good sir AMG Mercedes aint none too happy . And if its sport rather than Little England that matters to you in the slightest . Neither would you be good sir ! A bit of latent closet Nationalism shining thru the cracks perhaps ?

    1. Alain Prost was on Sky Sports News earlier, complementing Lewis on his driving and staying how difficult it was to do (but also fair; no jamming the breaks on mid corner like certain other drivers). Probably a bit of Brit nationalism shining through from Alain, no doubt.

  90. Joe, does Nico deserves the title and is he a worthy champion ? BBC articles have totally been based on argument that Nico is extremely inferior to Hamilton. While Hamilton is a better racer, have the under dogs lost the right to win ? I am generally interested in how the paddock sees Nico as a champion.

  91. James, how do you know that it was Lewis intention to back his team mate into an accident? With 4 cars trying to win, any thing could happen as we have seen on other occasions.lets hope Honda is in the mix next season!

    1. The issue is that when cars at the back of the grid are going 9 seconds slower than they ought to be going, this is deemed as dangerous and a risk to other cars and drivers. Why would this concern suddenly dissipate just because the car that is going slowly is leading the race?

      1. No, not 9 seconds slower than they ought to be going but 9 seconds slower than the qualifying time. Hamilton’s final lap was a smidge over 2s slower than his fastest lap.

  92. Another pertinent question must be why didn’t Vettel attack Rosberg more. If I was Arrivabene, it would be a question I’d be keen to ask. Looked like the German Drivers Union to me.

  93. Dear Joe,

    Really I do enjoy your blog a lot but this must be a Freudian slip of the pen. Not so strange since Max played a role of almost elephantine proportions in Seb’s head in the second half of the F1 season.

    Oh… and I do agree with your observation in “A little perspective”. A ‘German’ world title seems to count for everything in Germany (must have something to do with lost wars, I guess).

    Best regards,

    Jeroen Bons


  94. Whilst I was watching the race Hamilton’s tactics felt like a desperate final attempt to overcome the points deficit, and that is clearly what it was. I felt a small amount of what Nico must have been dealing with in spades! But, and this is the critical difference between Hamilton and Schumacher, Hamilton NEVER crossed the line between racing and doing something dangerous. He didn’t cause any accidents or stop on the racing line in an unsighted corner, he just won the race at the slowest possible speed (see Prost, A, for precedent).
    BOTH drivers did a tremendous job of racing their utmost. And a worthy champion was found. Actually either of them deserved it this year: one for a great year of consistently grafting away at it, the other with great highlights, and a fabulous come back to nearly make it.

  95. Don’t disagree strongly with what you say Joe- so far as it goes. Wolff reflects on what he can do to ‘improve’. I suggest: 1. Ensure both drivers have reliable engines- every race (doesn’t this shortcoming undermine their brand image?). 2. Discipline drivers who run their team mate off- Barcelona!! (even if race stewards/FIA don’t) 3. Stop trying to Teflon sensible questions such as the real reason mechanics were switched this season. 4. Learn that you can’t stage-manage the Championship AND keep respect. 5. Understand that once a driver loses confidence in the team, it’s over. He doesn’t HAVE to drive for you, no matter what any contract says.
    Isn’t it interesting that less than 6 months ago, what Lowe said would have been against the (then) rules? He did say LH must speed up ‘This is an instruction’. This was very clearly to ensure that Rosberg won the title and (along with the above) proves that was the intent from Round 1.
    Eddie Jordan says no driver is greater than the team. Err- who let Michael Schumacher slip through his fingers??

    1. A textbook example of what we psychiatrists call “conspiratorial ideation” – the dismissal of perfectly rational explanations for events in favour of utter nonsense purported to support the notion of shadowy power structures working a hidden agenda, without any credible evidence or valid reasoning to back up the hypothesis and littered with non-sequiturs.

      Left unchecked it can become a seriously debilitating condition, leading to the loss of family life, employment and future employment prospects.

    2. a) “Ensure both drivers have reliable engines” – are you suggesting that Mercedes gave Hamilton an engine that they knew was faulty ? Really ? IDFTS. The people at Brixworth will tell you that they build *every* engine in exactly the same way, even the customer ones, because that is by far the easiest and quickest thing to do.
      b) “Discipline drivers” – do you know what actions Mercedes have taken internally after Nico and Lewis’ several collisions ? Really ?
      c) Why should Mercedes tell the public (and also their rivals) why they changed the mechanics around ? What or who obliges them to answer the question ?
      d) Do you think that any F1 team gives a monkeys about whether or not you respect them ? Seriously ?
      e) Hamilton needs Mercedes and Mercedes needs Hamilton. It is extremely likely they will not part ways unless and until that statement is no longer true.

  96. Well its apparent Lewis did not execute his back up plan properly.He didn’t drive slow enough for Max and Seb to catch and pass Nico.

    If this was the only strategy that could back Lewis into the WDC, I’d say he did it poorly based on the results.

    If he had slowed more, we could have seen a potential brilliant fight amongst four cars, in lieu of the slightly tighter parade we witnessed.

    Congratulations Nico.

  97. I’m old school, and have either read or watched or done both, in regard to World Championship finale since around 1965. A lot has changed in that period, not always for the better, but the fundamentals of winning an F1 Title remain…one has to be quick, have a great car ( or at least the 2nd best car on the grid ), and one has to maximise personal performance over the entire season, not just bits of it! Mechanical sympathy is needed, as well as that weird thing called ” Luck “!

    How you win it is also ( in my book ) a requirement, as is how you lose. In regard to how you win, Nico has done the absolute best, albeit in the best car, against a driver who is just a shade faster and a shade more racy and aggressive ( which has sometimes worked against him ), Nico was quick, he stayed focused on the results needed on the day that all added up to putting him in the right position to probably win the title. He didn’t stoke the car too often, and he had some good luck this year, just as he has had some bad luck in past years. In short, he was Piquet to Hamilton’s Mansell……Lauda to Hamilton’s Prost, and Prost to Hamilton’s Senna…….undoubtedly Nico is thoroughly deserving of his title, as to be fair either he or Lewis would have been.

    I can see the Mercedes Team angst, as despite a lot of people saying that it doesn’t matter if they had lost the race, it would. Mercedes are not a Williams type of team and i’d guess the Board don’t just want to maybe win a few races, but rather would prefer to dominate. Bottom line, well the Drivers were fighting for their title, Merc had already won their title, but no matter how much Hamilton & Rosberg are paid, they are ultimately….Employees….and we all know that if you don’t do as you’re told by the Company, then the Company can always find someone who will. Unlikely in this case, but whereas Nico is giving all the signs of towing the corporate line, Lewis isn’t cut like that these days, now he’s not got his Dad on his case, and not tied up by the Ron Dennis School of Corporate Do As You Are Told Contract! Having said all that, it is much fairer to let drivers just race, so I get both sides…..but think Mercedes had a perfect right to make decisions and orders as they see fit on the Pitwall and purely for the benefit of Daimler-Benz.

    Other than that, there is the point about how one wins, and there’s no doubt that Nico not only worked his butt off to win over the season, but also on the day he drove a Champion’s race while under intense pressure. He has also worked hard in a successful career, and reached the pinnacle whilst battling a really tough opponent. Nico was gracious in his post race interviews whereas Lewis sadly was not. Lewis is a great driver and Champion, but he does tend to grate at times. His whinges against his team when there’s a mechanical problem are a bit irritating when one considers the almost bulletproof construction of the Merc and the modern F1 car compared with even the recent past. How he would have survived 1996 in the Ferrari as Schumacher had to, is a mute point!

    I know there is all this modern bs about Sportspeople having to “hate ” their rivals and having to rant and rave at not winning every time they have a chance, but Joe has inadvertently put his finger on something about some other sports that F1 used to have but struggles with now….Sportsmanship. Golf ain’t my cup of tea, but Golfers tend to behave with pride and some humility, and grace when defeated. Used to be the same in F1, but now commentators and some fans, seem to feel it is better for a Champion to behave like a spoilt child, than as a grown up man as somehow this ” shows how much winning means!”??

    To be a 3 time World Champion Driver in Formula 1, should be considered as a matter of great honour, and when you lose, as Lewis did yesterday, you should just accept the result, properly congratulate the new Champion, and your Team, and not mostly ignore the guy, and then whinge that because you had some worse races, that is the only reason the other man won! A championship is won over a whole season, not just a single race. Lewis has a big natural talent, and maybe he doesn’t work as hard because of that, but Rosberg had to work hard just because of that fact, and I thoroughly admire him for doing just that. Just as Andy Murray has had to outwork the top tennis aces to beat them.

    And finally, tactics, I totally get the tactics Lewis used, and it did make for a more exciting end, but I feel that if he had just blasted off into the distance, and then been gracious at the end, then in my eyes anyway, he would have been being a Class Act, instead of a Poor Loser…..for me, the Class Act yesterday was Nico.

    Lots of people will disagree, Joe included probably, but if one sits quietly and reads my thinking on this, then i’d bet that an awful lot of motorsport enthusiasts that comment here, will understand my points and agree, at least to some extent.

    1. I absolutely agree with you. No issue with Hamiltons tactics but he should have been more gracious in offering Rosberg congratulations. I just have to remember brazil 2008 and what Felipe did was as classy as it can get in F1.

    2. I agree with you 100%. There are lots of ways to win and lose a championship. No one is going to dispute that Hamilton is a better natural racer than Rosberg, but Hamilton has a lot to learn about gracefully accepting defeat. He is diminished by his actions outside the cockpit.

    3. I totally agree, Damian, very well put.

      I doubt many on here will also have watched Go Kart or Formula Ford/Vee races at club level lately but the “backing up into the opposition” tactics employed by Lewis were entirely predictable and are commonly used in racing at lower levels for years where individuals are pitched against each other.

      It can be clever, it can be entertaining, it’s certainly not original, but amongst teammates who are employed by an organisation with nearly a thousand other jobs relying on their success, it demonstrates a lack of maturity in my opinion.

      Sportsmanship does matter, even in this mass consumer age we live in and those who demonstrate it will always be more revered than the “whatever it takes” brigade who care about no one other than themselves.

    4. Agree entirely Damian. Lewis might well have several million sleeping fans out there, if only he didn’t behave as he does. I thought a lot of that was behind him but obviously not.

      Still, I believe that this is the first time in his career that he’s been beaten in the best car by his team-mate in a straight fight. It will be interesting to see how he deals with it into 2017.

  98. +- to gselmer’s post!
    I admit, I strayed into comments on other F1 sites today and yesterday, but the outright vitriol out there is breathtaking. I saved my visit to Joe’s site for last, glad I did. 🙂
    Thanks Joe for an entire year of quality journalism!

    I do also wonder why Mercedes is so keen to end the season with so many points, if enough were already in the bag for the constructor’s championship.

    Could it be the amount of points leads to an increased entry fee, but perhaps also leads to some discount on the other side, or some more constructor’s trophy money?
    I understand as win is a win, and so it’s important, but it just feels weird to get punished for even more points. Somehow the entry fee should be capped at the moment the constructor’s trophy is won, as to not let money-conscious team bosses decide they’ll not finish the last few races. (Currently there may not be such men in charge to even contemplate that thought?)

    Is it “just” a combination of pride, eagerness, a racer’s mind and marketing-value of yet another win, or is it feasable there’s a cap on the entry fee?

    I’ve been wondering this for too long so hopefully you can offer some more insight on this.
    I suppose simply asking team bosses doesn’t result in getting a proper answer? 😉

  99. And now Lewis might get a punishment? Well If I were team boss I’d make sure his car broke down at least three times next year. Oh wait a moment – didn’t he already get that punishment this year ?

  100. Bravo, Nico, yes; and bravo, Mercedes, too. Lewis Hamilton remains an admirably gifted driver but not a great sportsman. It’s not great sportsmanship to fault one’s team but not oneself and to insist on a moral claim to a championship. We should contrast Hamilton’s behavior that of Michael Schumacher after losing a seemingly certain victory and possibly a championship after an engine failure at Suzuka in 2006. He did not criticism his team and did not claim that the championship in any sense should still belong to him.

  101. i wonder what is causing people to have these kind of opinions (the angry at hamilton ones). i’ve been noticing a trend overall in the world of people just becoming life trolls. they probably have zero experience or knowledge of race-craft, yet they form opinions from the ether they feel entitled to force down everyone’s throats. i’m not very good with word but i’ve been sensing such characters emerging more and more.

  102. Spot on Joe. I was watching in the stands yesterday, and for the last few laps everyone was on their feet waiting to see what would happen with the top four cars. I think even the paddock club ventured outside to see just how close it was at the end.

    A fantastic end to a great season, well done to Mercedes and both drivers.

  103. Again you demonstrate why this is blog is the best source for F1 news and opinion, nicely written.

    I imagine Toto has aged quite a lot this year…

  104. I think the fact Lewis could actually back up Nico is a strong indictment of the sad state of F1. What would have made the race better is if Nico could actually have attacked Lewis if he wanted to. Nico couldn’t because that would risk the tires and potentially leave him open to attacks from behind. F1- give us a formula that allows and encourages close racing please!!!

  105. I believe ultimately that the driver is like the captain of a ship, he’s the leader and he ultimately should always have the last word, after all if the ship goes down so does the captain. F1 team have loss sense of who should be conducting the ship. Well done Lewis !

  106. Thank you for this post, for this blog and for your endless wisdom, Joe.

    On the French TV, Toto commented that the whole team should learn from yesterday events when asked about the refusal from Lewis to follow the instructions from Paddy. He was definetly not suggesting that what Lewis did was wrong.

  107. Ahhh the mee mee mee generation. It’s all about the unfairness of life. Man up, toughen up, pussies.

    In 1981 Carlos Reutemann tried to apply the ”brake test” on Piquet on the last race of the season. Piquet wasn’t stupid and won the championship. The brake test happened time and time again back then.

    Lewis did nothing wrong. Stop the whining, little pussies. Nico would’ve done the same thing as would the entire grid if given that possibility.

  108. After 3 years in Hamilton’s shadow, being outpaced more often than not and generally regarded as not quite as quick, perhaps his resilience in withstanding Hamilton’s shenanigans in the finale makes Rosberg a more worthy champion in the eyes of some than he would have been had Hamilton disappeared into the distance and given him a clean, easy run to P2.

    The other thing that springs to mind: since when did being a whisker slower than the quickest guy out there render anyone an unworthy champion?

    If he finds another gear next season the way some other champions have done in the year after their first title, we could be in for a real corker. Roll on 2017!

  109. Great article Joe. I thought Lewis drove an equisite race. Sat watching it, pretty sure he was going to lose out, I had nothing but admiration for how he controlled everyone behind. The only thing that grated me was Toto Wolf saying the over riding priority is always to win the race. I am absolutely certain, if for some reason one of the Ferrari’s or Red Bull’s had been leading with Rosberg lying second, he would not have been instructed to push to get the race win. He would have turned the engine down and brought the car and championship home.

  110. Agree with everything written here except that the season was “fab”. Yes, it was a good battle between Nico and Lewis, but that’s also underlines the issue I had with this season (and many others). Too many seasons have seen a single team dominate with no real hope of winning for anyone else. As a Ferrari fan the early 2000s were a boon, but I also recognize they produced some very boring championships where the outcome was never in doubt. And that’s where I’m at now, acknowledging the drama of Nico vs. Lewis, but also yearning for a championship where multiple teams are in contention (with all due respect to Red Bull who won races this year, but never really threatened for the championship). The state of affairs has no one to blame but the teams who can’t get to Mercedes level, but the end result once again is a dominant team leaving little or no hope for a multi-team battle for either championship. That isn’t “fab” to me, regardless of who is winning. A truly great season IMHO would feature races/championship where the outcome wasn’t limited to 2 drivers from the same team.

  111. I have absolutely no qualms with the backing up tactic, from a racing driver point of view I understand it completely.

    It’s the manner in which it happend which left a sour taste. Hamilton had been at pains to say that he wouldn’t do that. So that u turn was little bit hypocritical. I would have respected him more if he said right from Friday.. ‘Right, I’m going do to whatever it takes’.

    The way he did it… publicly refusing team ‘instruction’ showed yet again that he’ll think twice about putting himself above the whole team and brand.

    Ok, he’s a racer through and through… but so were Fangio and Moss, they’d never have behaved the way he does.

    1. I have suspicion that Hamilton does not entirely trust the team, to the point where he feels the need to hide his intentions from them in case they do something to counter his plans. Hence the “U turn”. I also think that’s why he didn’t start the backing up in earnest until after the final pit stop.

      Paranoid? Moi?

  112. I have no problem with Lewis’ tactics. It’s racing. However, ignoring orders from your team is another matter. He works for Mercedes. He reaps the benefits and also has a responsibility to the team. No matter your thoughts on the issue Joe, Mercedes clearly values wins, regardless of the financial cost or whether they’ve already won the Constructor’s Championship. It’s not Lewis’ prerogative to question or ignore that. This is a TEAM sport.

    1. It was not an order. And they won. Where’s the problem. Lewis said he never felt under any threat from Vettel

      1. Joe
        Please would tell us what you think is the difference between an order and an instruction. In the circumstances, it’s kind of important.

        1. The difference is a subtle one. An instruction is a direction, an order is much more solid and clear. It’s the same thing as shades of colour. When does green become emerald?

          1. FWIW, both my dictionaries (OED and Chambers) consider instruction and order to be very similar; both use the word command and direct in their definitions. However, my question wasn’t really about semantics.

            Joe – in your opinion
            a) Is a Mercedes driver allowed to ignore an ‘order’ ?
            b) Is a Mercedes driver allowed to ignore an ‘instruction’ ?
            c) Is a Mercedes driver allowed to ignore a ‘suggestion’ ?
            i.e did Hamilton’s behaviour constitute a breach of team discipline ?

            It is perfectly possible to avoid confusion by using a limited set of words with clearly defined meanings. However, it may be that the team wishes on occasion to leave things a bit vague, in which case hey might choose a word which is not on the pre-defined list. Either of those scenarios could have been in play on Sunday …

      2. It was an instruction. Different word, same meaning as ‘an order’ in the sense it was delivered. Also same meaning according to the first definition of the word in the Oxford dictionary for in stance.

      3. When the “Big Boss” gets on the radio and issues you and instruction (clearly labeled as such) it’s an order.

        The problem is that the team instructed Lewis to do something and he refused to comply. He’s employed by the team and you can bet his contract states that he must follow team directives. If Paddy instructed any other employee of the team to do something and they refused you can bet that person would suffer repercussions. Lewis is an employee and a member of a TEAM.

        No matter what you or I think, winning the race was a priority of the team and they issued instructions to their driver to ensure that. He refused to comply. That’s an issue. It’s not a sporting issue, but a team issue. Without the team, Lewis has nothing. The reverse is not necessarily true.

        F1 is a sport but it’s also a multi-billion dollar business.

      4. Where’s the problem?
        1. You win races by being quicker and more consistent than the rest. There is something inherently underhanded in “backing up” the grid in the hopes the points leader falls into the clutches of rivals.
        2. It’s especially unseemly when the guy you’re backing up is your alleged teammate.
        3. As a 3 time WDC, why couldn’t he accept his fate, and drive as any other race, and leave Nico to his own race to win or lose the WDC?
        4. Ultimately Lewis did not play the back up scheme properly, as he did not slow down sufficiently for Seb and Max to have the passing chances on Nico.
        5. If the roles were reversed, would we have seen Lewis crashing out both cars at the start? Would it have been acceptable for Nico to crash out both cars to secure his WDC?

        Your ultimate defense of this tactic is that it all turned out okay, MB had another 1-2, Lewis won the race, and Nico won the WDC. If it was a legitimate tactic, why is Toto talking about reexamining this dubious approach after the fact?

        For some reason it doesn’t seem to pass the smell test.

        1. 1) NO. Backing up the grid is NOT “inherently underhanded”. Many would argue strongly that it it is not even underhanded. You are presenting your personal value judgement as a fact. F1 races are managed and controlled using ONLY the regulations. Races are won by crossing the line first and WDCs are won by accumulating the most points.
          3) Are you serious ? Hamilton had an opportunity to win the WDC and he used the tactics which gave him the best possible chance of achieving that. It’s called being competitive, and in F1, of all sports, you don’t win unless you compete hard.
          4) I doubt Hamilton could have executed his tactics any better. He failed due in part to Rosberg’s efforts and in part to the specific circumstances which applied.
          5) I don’t believe that either driver would deliberately cause an accident because a) the outcome is far from certain b) stewards are MUCH stricter about punishing such behaviour than they ever were in the past c) past history means that Mercedes would almost certainly take very severe action against the offender.
          The team issued Hamilton with ‘instructions’ because they were concerned his tactics might jeopardise their 1-2 finish, NOT because they objected to the tactics per se. Hamilton chose to ignore the instructions; such behaviour may (or may not) constitute refusing a team order. In order to avoid a repeat of past incidents, Mercedes has insisted that its’ drivers obey team orders, so regardless of anything else, Hamilton may be up before the beak for ignoring an order.

  113. Summed it up perfectly Joe. It took Nico’s pass on Max to make me think he truely deserved the championship. I thought Lewis did what he could and the race would have been so dull if he hadn’t.

  114. If the roles were reversed would HAM have just crashed ROS out? Who knows but a history of sacrificing the team for self suggests the probable answer.

  115. Joe,

    What a damn good article to follow a damn good season!

    Exciting from start to finish, as was the season.
    Hope 2017 can be exciting to the end.

    My regards to you and the grandprixplus team.

  116. I read the opening line I this post and just knew it would be a Joe Classic.

    As usual disappoint you did not.

  117. Thank you so much, Joe, for easily the most intelligent article about this issue I’ve read over the last 24 hours, from someone who clearly know what he’s talking about.

    What Eddie Jordan and Niki Lauda said post-race about what Lewis did was ridiculous. Toto Wolf was doing his best to back out of the corner that someone high up in Mercedes had backed them into.

    Hats off to both drivers for great drives under considerable pressure in that last race of the season. Either of the two drivers would have deserved the title this year, but at when the last chequered flag comes out it’s the driver with the most points over the entire season who takes the crown, as it has ever been.

    Have a great Christmas Joe, and a well deserved rest until it begins all over again in a few months!

  118. As Bob Ballard points out several times on here, Lewis’ last lap was 9 seconds slower than his previous lap. Which proves, doesn’t it, Bob, that he had at least 9 seconds in his pocket should Vettel have passed Rosberg. Ergo it’s safe to assume that there was never any real threat of Mercedes’ Board seeing their cars lose the last race of the season. Hamilton had it all under control, but clearly couldn’t put his plan into operation until his finely pitstop had been made, lest someone fumble a wheelnut or similar.

    1. But is it right for cars to be circulating so much slower intentionally? I personally think that’s actually ok to be fair. However we see penalties being dished out for cars going too slowly during practice sessions for getting in each other’s way etc. We have also observed the top drivers in the quickest cars berating the lack of pace of back markers when lapping them. Why is the criticism leveled at the Manors (and when they were around, the HRTs and Caterhams), yet the same logic not raised when the ‘safety aspect’ applies to what the cars at the sharp end of the grid are doing? Personally, I think its just those top drivers either looking for excuses or wanting even more of their own way – my point on that matter is that the law should be the same for all (and I state this not with respect to Lewis specifically but across the whole grid). There should either be a relaxing of the hypersensitivity towards how cars interfere with each other’s races or the rules be applied evenly – in the 90s it was not uncommon for a teammate’s lapped counterpart to actively slow down a rival in front or behind their sister car, to help the lead team car’s race strategy. Another strategy was for the lapped car to maintain pace after being lapped by their teammate to make it harder for any chasing car to overtake both vehicles. These team strategies have disappeared due to lapped cars having to jump out the way of lead cars – I have never understood why there is such a strong mandate in this respect.

    2. Lewis being the proactive individual he is was dialling down the rev’s to assure power unit reliability and save Mercedes and his mechanics yet another embarrassing power unit failure.

      “Lewis, this is Paddy. We need you to pick up the pace to win this race”

      “Lewis this is an instruction, you must speed up to win this race”

      what Lewis should have said and maybe did we just didn’t her it broadcast;

      “Paddy, this is Lewis. we’ve had a couple of DNF’s this year and I’ll be damned if the silver arrows are finishing this season with an engine failure. At that point the German’s would salute out of pure instinct & the dim one from the media would have tears in his eye’s.

      They have no idea how good a corporate man they have there! Now that’s a good corporate soldier, a real team player.

  119. I have only just seen the race highlights and so no interviews with Toto and Niki, only press reports of Toto’s comments. However, I do feel strongly that Toto talks a good race, but struggles to face up to realities of racing.

    He will struggle when the day eventually arrives when RB, Ferrari, or McLaren are really breathing down their neck and he is forced to favour one driver, over the other.

    Yesterday was Nico’s moment, but sadly it felt somewhat engineered. He should have said, “Sometimes, shit happens”, but by making an issue about Lewis’s legitimate tactics, he has done himself irreparable harm.

  120. Joe, great post as always. It was very good for you to comment on this as soon as possible.

    I have watched F1 since 1976 and was lucky to see Piquet’s pass on Reutemann as Vegas 1981 in person.

    Lewis Hamilton drove a brilliant race in Abu Dhabi. Nico performed well. I am of the opinion Nico’s approach in the final four races was very measured. And that takes a skill and determination that only WDC have. Nico is not a number 2 driver.

    I agreed with the tactic that Lewis tried yesterday. The best example I can remember of two rivals going at would be Ali and Frazier in the “Thriller in Manilla”. Frazier gave everything he had and nothing was left on the table. Both Lewis and Nico did not leave anything on the table. And there is no doubt in my mind Piquet would have done the same to Nigel in Adelaide in 1986 if he needed to.

    Now, whether Mercedes really wanted to Lewis to “speed up” one will never know. If they were serious and he disobeyed the orders that is a private matter within the team. It is their call. I would strongly come out against any disobedience from drivers who are making millions. Additionally, I think Lewis knew that Vettel was not going to challenge or compromise Nico’s race. Max, well that would be different story. I suspect Mercedes as a result will change the rules of engagement to “remind” Lewis who is writing the checks.

    What are we going to see in 2017? Probably, the usual suspects. If I had to pick a surprise, I would go with the McLaren team being more competitive after hitting the sweet spot in the aerodynamics. Unfortunately, my gut tells me we will not see Lewis Hamilton as the WDC of 2017.

  121. I honestly did not care whether Rosberg or Hamilton won the championship.

    But I thought the only thing Lewis did wrong was not backing up Nico earlier. Masterful driving and great tactics. Nico handled the pressure well. A fine end to the season.

  122. Another great post Joe; thanks. There seem many here, like me, that agree with you and those that disagree, but do it respectfully. Then there’s the usual ‘tosh’ which, as ever you tolerate well. Lewis’s drive was a champion’s drive; a ‘racer’s’ drive; thinking right up to the chequered flag, controlling the pace of the race and rightly ignoring the ‘Horner-esque’ pleas over the radio. Congratulations to Merc who, by and large, certainly gave the impression of letting them race. As for Rosberg, he’s a very good driver but time will tell whether he’s able to join the greats. As for Hamilton, he’s already a great. True greats of F1 never sought prizes afterwards for great acceptance speeches and loosing graciously. Loosing hurts.

  123. The thing being that in pre-race interview Lewis said he would not do what he ended up doing. So he lied. It was blatantly obvious that if a very likely scenario occurs, he would try and back Rosberg up to traffic behind. Why lie about it? Makes no sense.

    1. So you have never done something you said you would never do? That’s not lying. Lying is Wynne you say you didn’t do it after the fact…

      1. Never say never is correct. But in light of the previous races, it was almost certain that after the start the positions would be P1 Lewis and P2 Nico. Leaving Lewis with the only strategy of backing Nico into traffic.

        I don’t know if you saw that CBS interview with Lewis, but the way he answered gave an impression that he does not think that kind of strategies are 100% ok either. Hence his statement that he won’t be doing it. But obviously when it’s the only choice and it’s all legal, he and most drivers will do it.

        I just found it unnecessary to deny it, when we all knew he will do it if things turn out the way they did.

  124. Yes Bravo, Joe. Spot on. There has been some utter horseshit about Lewis quitting or Mercedes sacking him written today. They both drove brilliantly and did what they had to do. Lewis did all he could without being unsporting or giving Mercedes just cause to punish him, and as you rightly say, Nico also did everything he had to under massive pressure. That said I think there were definite signs among the Mercedes hierarchy that they were favouring Nico. I think the reaction from Woolf and Lauda when Rosberg got pole in Suzuka was very telling.

    Makes sense from their perspective as they have two WDCs in the team. With the team and car so strong it gives them a very good hand in terms of whatever they want to do in terms of negotiating contracts or getting whoever they want in the car in the future. If Merc maintains its dominance under the new regs the likes of Alonso, Vettel and Verstappen will all be vying for a seat. Merc would be stupid to dump Lewis though as he is box office and the only driver most non hardcore F1 fans have heard of. As Toto himself says he is a rock star racing driver. Ultimately Mercedes are in the sport for marketing purposes and no other driver has his reach or fits so well in terms of Mercedes is trying to do in changing its image as a brand. Going back to the backing up it would have been interesting to see what Schumacher or Senna would have done in the same circumstances.

  125. Great Blog, Joe. Lewis did what he had to do. Nico scored more championship points than anyone else therefore worthy World Champion. Who is the best driver is a different issue as it always has been. Well done Nico.

  126. The other ridiculous bit is the chorus of Nico haters saying he didn’t deserve the title because of Hamilton’s technical woes (ignoring his bad start woes) as if every close championship hasn’t been decided partially by luck. In 5-10 years only a few hardcore fans will remember Rosberg won in part due to LH’s technical problems. In 25 years nobody will remember. That’s why it’s so important to make hay while the sun shines.

  127. In some respects the health of F1 can be judged by the length of the comments section.
    It currently seems to be in good health, thanks to Nico, Lewis et al….

    Thanks for the insights Joe, adding to (essential part of) the show

  128. Ive never been a believer that its down to the last race that wins or loses you the championship, even more so now in such a long season its moments throughout the season that interact together that means every point counts,its not the final throw of the dice today, its how you gambled when it seemingly didnt count as much.

    so for Lewis to start playing the back Rosberg into trouble game only now, when he’s led the previous 3 races home with a Mercedes 1-2 and had every opportunity to do the same, how smart is that really ?

    but there you go, didnt Hamilton qualify on pole in Spain, a 1-2 finish instead of a 1-2 in the gravel trap, 7pts difference for 1st and 2nd, loses the championship by 5pts…as Ron Dennis maybe should have the last words on 2016 once said “to finish first,first you have to finish”.

    1. Yeah, but if you actually watched that first few corners of that race you would see that Rosberg panicked and drove Hamilton off the road when he saw he was much much slower because of the mode issue.

      Rosberg has this challenging behavioural issue on the track that causes him to go way over the limit of acceptability in crisis moments (Spain 2016, Monaco 2014 etc.)

      Hamilton regularly touches the limit, but very rarely goes over it. This is the difference between the two. People talk about Hamilton being ruthless and breaking rules but in the vast majority of cases where they’ve had an incident together on track, it’s been Rosberg who caused it. All imho of course.

  129. It would be interesting to know what that German ‘journalist’ who accused Lewis of ‘dirty driving’ thought about Schumacher’s favourite technique of crashing into title rivals to secure favourable championship results…

  130. Rosberg should have just rammed Hamilton and taken them both out, thereby assuring Rosberg of the title. That would have resolved the issue man-to-man a la Senna and Prost. You f*&k with me (by backing me up) I will f%*k with you by taking you out.

      1. Dirty tactics require a dirty response. Thou shall reap what thou has sowed. Race fair, and I will race you fair. Rosberg did not cause Hamilton’s reliability issues, but he suffered Hamilton’s ultimate response to that. After he repeatedly ignored team orders to speed up I would have taken him out (and said Oops my foot slipped off the brake) rather than have his tactics cause me to possibly lose the title. F1 titles are hard to come by, you don’t lose it in the last race because your teammate is a sore loser.

        1. It is not dirty tactics. The leader is allowed to lead at whatever pace he likes and if the man in second place cannot overtake that is his problem. If you opened your eyes and appreciated the brilliance that Hamilton displayed, you would enjoy the sport much more than looking at it as you are looking at it right now.

          1. Excellent point. F1 becomes a lot more enjoyable when the driver one regards as the best retires and one no longer cares who wins because none of them truly measure up but merely enjoys the racing for what it is. Whether we’re talking about Fangio, Moss, Brabham, Hill, Clark, Stewart, Fittipaldi, Villeneuve, Piquet, Prost, Mansell, Senna, Schumacher, Hakkinen, Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton or whomever largely depends on the era in which the viewer discovered F1 – they will always regard that as the Golden Age. The inevitable conclusion of which is that those who engage in the sort of ridiculous partisan posturing often seen in comments sections are mere children. Maybe there’s some merit in the Victorian mantra of “seen and not heard” after all.

            1. No I didn’t. I said F1 has never been like other sports because it has always been something that was a mix of sport and business. And not just in the F1 era. That goes back to the start when there were aristocrats buying the best machinery.

              1. I’ll put it down to the deluge of responses leading to crossed wires – I understand that can easily happen given how you try to respond to as many of the comments as possible – which is of course appreciated. For the record this was the thread I was referring to:

                My comment: “F1 is certainly a commercial activity which may explain why many no longer consider it a true sport any longer..”

                Your Response: “It never was”

  131. Joe, I don’t always agree with what you write, but its your blog and your rules, so I enjoy reading your thoughts and smile at the postings that you ignore and the postings you comment on. Your assessment of Sundays race was spot on.
    Anyone that has arrived at Sundays race with three world championships has learned how to deal with the F1 BS and the many agenda’s that are in play. Within the narrow confines of the general rules of engagement that drivers have to deal with, the way in which LH made as much use of his abilities to try and win the championship should be praised.
    The commentary that I listened to was clearly made by people with way to much self importance and no real understanding of the agendas that were being played out. Only Damon Hill was able to really relate to what anyone would do in the situation we saw on Sunday, and having worked with him at Arrows, I know he would have done the same in that situation. When it gets down to the situation we saw on Sunday, all bets are off.
    Having said that, I think that provided LH is still hungry for another championship, then sooner rather than later there are going to be a couple of teams that will be knocking on Lewis’s door for 2018 and would write the cheque to bring that level of ruthless commitment to their own tables. Its clear that Mercedes GP will have to bury this ASAP as they cant afford to have anything less than the best driving their cars. I bet the Mercedes Christmas party will be a fun deal.
    Thanks for a great years writing, see you next March!

  132. I am puzzled. If Lewis was going slowly “driving Rosberg into the arms of Vettel and Verstappen” what stopped Nico from passing Lewis and finishing like a true champion? Do you think Ayrton or Nigel would have played follow my leader?
    Presumably he was terrified that Lewis would give him a nudge and win the championship.
    On another subject a huge well done on exposing that Nazi von Hanstein in GP + Cherished plate on his car : SS 33. Says it all.

    1. And here is the point. We are all saying LH did everything he could. Not true. He didn’t try to drive NR off the road as MS et al did in their day.

  133. I think Lewis’ post-race comments (and actually his comments for the majority of the season) betray his fundamental lack of trust, not with his own engineering team (who he praises and supports regardless of race outcomes), but of the senior management at Mercedes. Rightly or wrongly, he sees the way the season played out as evidence of the dice being loaded in his teammate’s favour, in the same way that Todt manipulated Ferrari race outcomes for years. Except. Except it’s much worse. Instead of openly managing the team with a clear number 1 driver, Mercedes maintain the fiction that they are egalitarian in their treatment of their drivers. This makes their behaviour much, much more reprehensible than Ferrari’s or Red Bull’s in similar situations. If Lewis displayed “unsportsmanlike” or “churlish” behaviour during and after the race, I suspect that it’s as a direct result of him feeling isolated and even sabotaged by the team management. Otherwise, he wouldn’t keep banging on about the engineering team swap, or the statistical improbability of the mechanical problems he has experienced this year (which also probably include the sequence of poor starts that plagued him in the earlier part of the year but which have mysteriously stopped happening in recent races), or indeed ignoring instructions from the “highest point of escalation we have” – Toto’s words when questioned by the C4 TV team immediately after the race. Sadly, there isn’t a viable alternative out there currently. If there were I have no doubt whatsoever that Hamilton would be buying himself out of whatever contract he has with Mercedes and jumping ship. Further, I’m not sure whether he views the relationship with Mercedes as salvageable. He’s stuck between the absolute drive to win, the only way to win being in a Mercedes F1 car, and the politics of big business and their marketing whims. I fully expect Hamilton to come back in 2017 and utterly destroy Rosberg, and to dare Mercedes to publically acknowledge that they are guilty of result engineering for their own ends. There will be much more controversy within the Mercedes team in 2017 without a doubt.

  134. Thank you Joe and the GP+ team for another great season. I’ll be renewing my subscription again (thanks to Santa).

    I wouldn’t call myself a Hamilton fan or hater. However, given the circumstances of his own 2008 win, I was disappointed to see Hamilton’s post race treatment of Rosberg. As pointed out by others, there are better ways to accept a narrow defeat.

    However, this appears to be part of the Hamilton persona – that of being the underdog and having the world against him.

    Congrats to Nico for stringing together a fine season and for the mental fortitude of withstanding the pressure after two years of watching Hamilton win.

  135. My problem is not with Hamilton’s tactics, that was his only real last ditch effort to try and win the championship. My problem is with his clear insubordination to the team and his bosses. He clearly did not do what they told him and instructed him to do. He has done this previously and I think it is clear he does not want to play by the team rules. The primary goal Merc has always said is to win both championships and get as many 1-2 finishes as possible, and Hamilton didn’t seem to care to follow the team rules as laid out prior to the race. I don’t know about you guys but if I did something similar at my job I would be out on my ass.
    And let’s be honest, there was no way Vettel would be able to have passed Hamilton. Even if he did jump Rosberg, there was no way Hamilton couldn’t control the pace to prevent him from losing first place.

      1. Lewis won the race. He was never going to lose the race but winning by a country mile was effectively going to lose him the championship with Rosberg where he was so he played the tactical card. The team knew he would as did Rosberg.

    1. Let’s be clear. A Mercedes 1-2 was NOT in Hamiltons interest. He needed a 1-4. Therefore, it was obvious that that was what he was aiming for, and what did the team expect him to do? Just except that he has already lost the WDC. No, he fought to the last corner of the last lap! It was certainly entertaining, and F1 should be thanking him for it. Mercedes probably got more TV air-time in that one race, than they got in a whole load of races previously combined.

  136. Got to hand it to Lewis for at least trying. That in itself is the hallmark of a champion who doesn’t give up. He didn’t take Rosberg out like other ‘greats’ have done in the past to win – at times deliberately. He played by the rules and gave us a great show. What more could we ask for.

    Interestingly, Mansell is on twitter saying he is a sportsman and that he wouldn’t have done that – I guess referring to Lewis’ strategy. It will divide opinion, but that’s what we love about this sport.

  137. In the end it does not matter what any of us think of Lewis’s tactics.It’s what the team thinks.This will be a subtext to 2017 and maybe his next contract.No driver is indespensible but Toto and Niki are racers and understand the psychology.

  138. Well, this certainly is a polarizing issue…

    I get Mercedes’ point of view – they didn’t want the drivers doing anything that might threaten a 1-2 finish. Problem is, the only thing that would bag the title for Lewis was a 1-4. Something had to give. Did anyone really expect it to be Lewis?

    And in the end, if Lewis had sailed into the distance and Nico had cruised to an untroubled and untested title, would anyone really have found that more satisfying?

  139. I know there are a number of the law profession that read/post on this blog.
    In every driver contract I have been involved in there is a clause that broadly states that ” driver will obey all and any legal order from the team”
    I’m wondering if any law expert that visits this blog could cast some light on the Hamilton situation.
    What would a judge say to an order to “pick up the pace” on a race track?
    My own thought is that it would not be a position that a court would/could make a judgement on, its just too subjective.
    Given the amount of postings on this blog about the whole event its clear that there is still a lot of passion floating around F1.

  140. Joe

    I didn’t watch this race live as a midnight start is too late for a sixty year old still in the workforce.

    I did watch the Channel 10 telecast I recorded and was not surprised by Hamilton’s antics, all is fair in love and war right? What was Bernie doing in the Green room pre podium, never seen him there before? Glad Rosberg won the championship though. Hope next year’s season is a little more open and not another Mercedes demonstration. Your take on the race is spot on as always, keep up the good work.

    1. At least he didn’t bring his buddy Putin in with him this time.
      Imagine how angry this debate would have been if Lewis’s tactics had worked and Nico finished off the podium or had been crashed out by Vettel or Verstappen.
      Congrats to Nico.He was easily the driver of the race.A deserving world champion.

  141. Thank you Joe. Great insight and analysis as always.

    I think Lewis actually lost the championship from his many poor starts. I think he was not focused on racing at the start of the year. Once he realized that he must get his act together the poor starts suddenly stopped.

    Congrats to Nico, he did what he needs to win the championship. And let’s not forget that pass on Max.

  142. What Lewis did was well within the rules. However he made it clear that he was a bad loser and that he played only to win. He is selfish and clearly puts himself above his team.

    He seems to be very happy with the team every time he wins the race. However he questions the team’s motive when he is back is against the wall or he loses a race. His comments in Malaysia this year was carefully worded and cleverly intended.

    Conversely, Rosberg in my opinion does better and never takes down his team in public. I don’t think he has ever bought up the reliability issues he faced in SG or at the title decider in AD in 2014. He has never disagreed with team instructions during races as well.

    Why would a team that pays $36 Mil to a driver, tolerate his errant and anarchist behavior? If I were Toto, I would weigh the options of another driver capable of winning championships and contributing to team success with less headache. !!! Where would that leave Lewis ?

  143. Who leads the race, controls the pace. It’s basic racing.

    Lewis made a great race (controlling the pace in a perfect manner as you mentioned).
    Nico handled the pressure perfectly and it’s a worthy champion. That’s it.
    Everything else is just nonsense.

    Maybe that German guy doesn’t remember Austrália’94, Jerez’97 or Suzuka’90…

  144. A bottle (and a bit) of cheap plonk in and thinking outside of the box.. What would happen if they got rid of the drivers championship

  145. Good article and blog – thanks!
    350 replies and counting – you sure shook up the armchair hornets’ nests.
    You’re going to give JAonF1 a run for their money on this one.

  146. It was a fantastic race, Up until the final few laps I genuinely thought Hamilton was actually going to pull off the impossible. I don’t think I sat down for the last ten laps.

    Hamilton drove brilliantly and his actions also forced Nico to drive like a champion rather than the cruising 1-2 it could have been.

    They both impressed me and as much as I’d have liked to see Hamilton win given his failure in Malaysia, I was glad to see Nico to withstand all that pressure in the race and come through. He earned his WDC in that race.

    My only criticism would be Mercedes’ actions at the end. They should have just left them to it. They’d won the constructors Title. One of their drivers was going to win the WDC, obviously Lewis had no intention of giving the race win to Vettel (and thus crewing any chance of WDC), so they should have just shut the hell up and let them get on with it. Their comments on the radio and afterwards took the shine of what should have been an epic end to the season. It should be talk of the drivers great driving, not whether someone should be getting told off for being selfish in the last race of the season.

    I also find it underhandthat Wolff and Lauda were playing politics in the after race interviews. Apparently what they were saying to British media was almost completely the opposite of what they were saying to the German media (my sister and partner live in Switzerland and were watching the German broadcast)

    Wolff saying it was totally unacceptable on German TV but telling the Sky F1 team that as a racer in the same position he would have done the same.

  147. LH is a selfish, narcissistic prat! Nico is the better man,
    Congrats Nico on your becoming World Champon. You will be a terrific representative of the sport.

      1. “Wolff came out with some pretty strong stuff after the race, when he said about Hamilton: “Undermining a structure in public means you are putting yourself before the team. It is very simple. Anarchy does not work in any team and in any company. It is about finding a solution as to how to solve that in the future because a precedent has been set.”

        1. “I think (Hamilton) can be a little ballerina,” said Stewart in an interview with Press Association in Europe. “Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda are not stupid people, and neither is the Mercedes chairman who often comes to Grands Prix. You cannot threaten a multinational corporation of that size by one man who is just not doing it the right way. Give him the option of ‘either do it our way or you have to be excused.’

          “Lewis was refusing their instructions, and he was going against the management team. Now, I am sorry, but when you are paid between 20 and 30 million pounds a year and you are told to do something, you have got to do it. I don’t care who you are.”

  148. Thanks Joe for yet another interesting Grand Prix season of reports and information. The main reason I’m glad that there are so many races now is that we don’t need to wait too long to hear your take on the races. I just hope that you have long enough for the necessary rest so you can re-charge your batteries ready for next year.
    There is a lot of well reasoned comment above me here (and a lot of the opposite) and I fall firmly into the ‘Lewis did no wrong’ camp.
    I do agree that Mercedes made themselves look silly with their interfering comments and for them to expect Lewis to give up and throw his Championship chances away while there were some, is somewhat naïve (sp?).
    Turning things around, if the championship was to be awarded to whoever won the race, 10 laps to go Rosberg is in the lead and Hamilton is behind him, would it have been acceptable (or expected) for Lewis to roll off the pace & drop back, giving Nico the win (& therefore the championship? No! he would have been expected to be badgering & hounding the car in front, trying (legally) to get past to secure the win, I see no difference.
    I also don’t see what Lewis did wrong after the race either. He congratulated Nico in the pound straight after the race (and if anything, Nico appeared to shun him at this point), and again, very publicly on the podium in front of all The World and their TV crews. I seem to remember Rosberg being very petulant on a number of occasions when Hamilton had beaten him, spending the whole time post race (podium, press conference etc.) with what my Mum would have described as having a face like a slapped bum!
    As far as publicity for Mercedes is concerned, again Lewis’ actions have played right into their hands. Even this afternoon (Tuesday – 2 days after the race) British National Radio is still banging on about it in every news bulletin with the Mercedes name mentioned time & time again.
    Literally a win-win situation as I see it.

  149. Dear Joe, thanks for all the great reporting the season!

    One small remark: While Gao is indeed on the banks of Niger river, it is in the country of Mali.

  150. Coming late to this but didn’t the C4 commentators make the point that going too slowly can be almost as bad for the tyres as going too fast? Quite a few of the Moto GP lads found this out the hard way at Philip Island recently, though happily not Cal Crutchlow.

    And if der Fingerflingenkind says that Hamilton’s tactics were “unsporting” then I’m very much inclined to believe that, in fact, they were not.

  151. I am curious – would it have been possible for Lewis to have backed up Nico more aggressively, so that both Vettel and Verstappen passed Nico, and Lewis won the championship? I can see slowing Nico so that Vettel passed him, but I’m not sure I can see how Lewis could have ensured Verstappen also got past Nico, without allowing Vettel to pass him.
    If Lewis could have stayed first and pushed Nico back to fourth, then I am left wondering why, having decided to back up Nico, Lewis wasn’t more aggressive in doing it.

    1. Because he would have given Merc’s management been just cause to sack him if his actions had been too blatant. If you were a conspiracy theorist it is possible, in my opinion, to see a version of events where perhaps the team hierarchy have got tired of managing the Lewis/Nico situation and wouldn’t be adverse to getting rid of him if only to save a few quid on his salary. Alonso would drive that car for next to nothing and Vettel would start agitating for a move if the seat became available. Lewis saw the bigger picture and did all he could within the confines of the situation, which is why what he did was so intelligent and measured. Ultimately you hit the nail on the head. Max, with the miles on his tyres, did not ultimately have the pace to challenge Nico no matter how aggressive Lewis was in the backing up, unless he looked to cause absolute chaos on the final lap. This would have provoked an investigation by the stewards, would have put him in a position where he could have been sacked as well as further provoking fan outrage. Although ultimately I completely believes this is what Schumacher or Senna would have done in the same situation.

  152. Ok – I may have been drinking too much cool aid but I think something may be afoot between Merc and Lewis. He pulled out of the tyre test yesterday citing illness. The BBC have reported that there is ‘no timescale’ on deciding on any punishment for his actions on Sunday. Nico has said it was tough but ultimately he was cool with happened (easy to say when you’ve just won the title I know). And yet Merc have said there is no timescale for deciding on a potential sanction for Lewis. If Toto and Niki wanted to kill the story surely they would put out a release saying ‘We have decided to take no action and we move on’.

    Toto and Niki like Nico. He’s a good boy and he does what he’s told. Maybe they want easy Teutonic world championships with Werhlein playing Rubens Nico’s Michael. Maybe they fancy shaving USD30 mil a year off the team’s budget? Maybe Nico and Toto benefit directly if that happens? Oh yeah, as a 30% shareholder in the team Toto will directly benefit! I am not normally one of the tinfoil hat brigade but it is starting to look like relations between the team’s direct management and Lewis are at an all-time low. Any thoughts Joe?

    One thing I thought was highly illustrative of the differences between Nico and Lewis’ character was when Nico asked the team permission to do doughnuts after just winning the world championship! Doughnuts, by definition, are a spontaneous act of joy and celebration and yet Nico still thought he had to ask the team.

  153. Joe – how about an hypothetical perspective on the reaction if Lewis did win, either by pressuring Nico into a mistake, or overtaken?? What would the Mercedes reaction have been like??!!

  154. This is actually demonstrating the conflict between the Team’s goals and the Driver’s goals. The Team wants a 1,2 every race but for this race, 1 driver wanted a 1,(4 or worse). The Team has a responsibility to their stakeholders and sponsors to deliver as many 1,2’s as possible regardless of both championship results whilst the driver has an obvious championship goal. I have no problem with Mercedes pit calls as they were worried about their goal. The driver was focused on his which again is not a problem but shows the conflict that can arise later in the year.

  155. So many opinions! So, I will add just a though as to which one would prefer (esp. NR):
    “Lewis vanished and won the race but he lost the championship” vs “Lewis tried everything he could but Nico won the championship”.

  156. Excellent post Joe – as usual. Many thanks for what is by far the best F1 blog site..
    Lots of comments criticizing Lewis’ post race behaviour. Wasn’t it Ron Dennis who once said “Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser”?

  157. Most of the comments on here are based on the supposition that the trackside bosses (Wolff, Lauda and Lowe) are acting with free will. Just like their drivers, they are employees of Mercedes and have many powerful people above them in the chain. We also know that chairman Zetsche goes to many F1 races, but how much does he involve himself in the detail ? I saw very little of the post race stuff on Sunday, but I did read a comment by Wolff that the instructions to Hamilton came from “the highest authority there is”. Is it possible that Lowe was merely following *his* instructions and passing on the thoughts of chairman Zetsche ? That would be a extra little complication.
    Joe – are you able to shed any light on the situation ?

  158. Brilliant and correct as usual Joe.
    Now, if asked, I would not say that Hamiltons tactics were sporting at all, but totally fair and legal, and to be expected so,…thanks for making it fun Lewis!!

    Finally, has anyone else thought this whole pissing match in media and online over the race management by the team etc blah blah is exactly why they made that call for us all to hear and a large number of fans to freak out about,..????

    As if they didn’t know how fans would react.
    As if they didn’t know how Lewis would react.
    As if they didn’t know how media would react.

    As if they didn’t know exactly what was going to happen here by midrace.

    The negative they take for “daring to interfere” by the radio instruction is dwarfed by the PR value of being in “”the spotlight” or ‘ trending’ far longer in all media, esp now the season is done.

    Y’all got Played.

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