Voice of the #F1 Fans: Mercedes drivers: How close was it really?

 Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor landroni

Figure 1: Nico and Lewis, in style

 Nico and Lewis, in style


As the dust settles down after the end of the 2014 campaign, there is still considerable amount of debate over how closely matched were the Merc drivers after all. With Hamilton’s contract negotiations being handled by zee greitest negozieightorr in zee howl veid vvorrld, Toto Wolff—who just like our dearest Dr Helmut Marko and Niki Lauda—cares deeply about TJ13 readers and simply doesn’t know when to stop talking in front of the press. So we’re in for an entertaining spat starring Lewis and 1/3 of the Three Stooges, Wolff, which now seems to be going full-throttle. But how well did Rosberg actually fare versus Hamilton in 2014, and how entitled is Hamilton to press forward with his salary demands?

At first sight, Rosberg at the very least closely matched Hamilton. For much of 2014 he was leading the WDC, before the tables changed in Singapore, when Rosberg got his second taste of “leprechaun reliability”. He has also done a better job in qualifying, reportedly one of Hamilton’s strongest suits, beating him 11–7 and being faster by 0.187s on average.

Yet as pointed out by one of TJ13 readers, it’s interesting how:

  • Hamilton beat Rosberg 11–5 in terms of wins, more than double and even though Rosberg started ahead of Hamilton more often than not
  • Rosberg was unable to pass Hamilton on-track at any race
  • Hamilton passed Rosberg more often than not, most spectacularly at the start of Abu Dhabi
  • Rosberg couldn’t manage to win 2 races in a row in a supremely dominant car, while Hamilton had two win streaks (4 and 5 straight wins, respectively)
  • and Hamilton finished on the podium every race that his car didn’t grind to a halt, affected by leprechauns (including after spectacular quali incidents like Hamilton flambé in Hungary or invisible brakes in Germany)

And somehow many argue, including your humble writer, that Rosberg has proved in 2014 that he was not too far off from Hamilton!


If you sit down with a glass of cold vodka and then take a sober look at the past season, then Rosberg’s performance suddenly seems much less impressive than at first sight.

If you exclude Hungary and Germany 2014, then the head-to-head tally stands at a less impressive 9–7, still advantage Rosberg. If we try to get a measure of their ultimate raw pace, and consider the best sector times throughout the year (set in any session, while still excluding qualifying times in both Hungary and Germany 2014), then Nico and Lewis are incredibly closely matched. From the 57 track sectors, Hamilton was quicker than Rosberg by a mere 29–28, with an average time separating the two drivers an infinitesimal 0.011 seconds. So if we look at both drivers’ theoretical best raw-pace performances while controlling for the Leprechaun effect, Rosberg has only done a wonderful job in matching the qualifying master, but not quite beating him. No mean feat, it must be said.

Switching to race day, Rosberg’s race performance versus Hamilton was ultimately flattered by the fact that the car’s advantage was so great over the competition that both of them were most of the times ahead of everyone else, while the closest challengers (Williams and Red Bull) were merely minor inconveniences on the start-finish straight. If you take this into account, then Rosberg was farther from Hamilton than many think.

That’s why, for instance, F1Metrics have classified Rosberg in 7th this year, his performance being only just in front that of Räikkönen (8th), and statistical miles behind behind the likes of Hamilton (2nd) and Alonso (1st). Put differently, the performance delta between Hamilton and Rosberg in 2014 was statistically not unlike the delta between Alonso and Räikkönen, which few would argue was a close-fought battle. (For more details on the methodology check the mathematical model and this very brief overview.)

When correcting for race-day luck as per our beloved Victims of Circumstance, Hamilton is still in front of Rosberg by a hefty 424–387. Clearly, even when you account for the obligatory race-day Leprechaun effect, Hamilton still emerges as the better racer.

So, if in 2015 Merc loses its crushing edge, then both Hamilton and Rosberg shall find themselves in traffic much more often than 2014, and unless Rosberg finds some grit—as he seemed to be doing in quali towards the end of last year, straining Hamilton’s nerves quite a few times—then these race performance differences will likely only get amplified.

Just like in fashion and entertainment, Hamilton seems to be having just that very little but ultimately tangible performance edge over Rosberg. As for his salary demands, my feeling is that all these outrageously overpaid drivers are plain and simple daylight robbers. But hey, employees like Hamilton clearly have market power, and can force their will onto very powerful corporations. (Funny when roles change, huh?)

And ze Wolff better be careful and brush his medieval history manuals: the last time a team (McLaren) felt Hamilton was replaceable and refused to give him an (“inflation-linked”) raise for excellent performance, they found that all of a sudden their car metamorphosed from fastest horse on the grid to midfield wheelbarrow when lucky, and incidentally, under the Leprechaun’s very own stewardship (Paddy Lowe, the other third of the Three Stooges). And two years on, with the former master’s head on a spike (Martin Whitmarsh), Lewis’ former team realised that they’d willingly give an arm and a leg just to get their former idol back. Bee verry verry keirfull Herr Wolff not to bark up the wrong tree…

Figure 2: The Once and Future Wolff?

 The Once and Future Wolff?

69 responses to “Voice of the #F1 Fans: Mercedes drivers: How close was it really?

    • You’re not really familiar with the concept of “voice of the fans” are you? You are free to write your own steaming pile of biased drivel. But then, you usually do that in the comments…

      • Amen to that Hippo.
        It’s so easy to criticize others work, yet so much harder to take criticism on your own.

        @mankster if you feel so strongly lets read your counter argument that Lewis lucked into the WDC and it was Rosberg’s lose. 11-5 in Hamilton’s favour in exactly the same machinery. Is there much need to say anything else. I look forward to reading your article soon.

    • landroni – Excellent! Many thanks for this thoughtful analysis! This helps to raise the level of thought from “my driver is greater than your driver” that is seen here and elsewhere.

      Combining F1Metrics and VoC (TJ13’s own Victim of Circumstance) with your own analysis is well done and helpful.

      I have two minor quibbles with this work. The lessor first, which is your critique of Paddy Lowe. Ironically, it’s entirely possible that your critique is correct, that Paddy does sacrifice reliability, for whatever reason, in his processes. But though the circumstantial evidence points in that direction, I’ll just point out that the point is tangential at best, to an analysis of the value of Hamilton versus Rosberg. Instead I’d point to F1Metric’s point that a driver’s championship point scoring is much more susceptible to random DNFs in a top scoring team’s car. This year was a perfect illustration of that point, as thoughtful fans in the latter half of the season were all holding their breaths to see how the random DNFs would effect the drivers championship battle. In other words, the shiny spotlight on the reliability of the two Mercs cars is a natural by product of the team’s dominate performance advantage over the rest of the field, no matter what. In other words, the Paddy speculation didn’t bring value to this analysis… (a minor quibble, yes?).

      I think you’re more vulnerable to my second critique which is the populist view that you shared of top tier drivers as “outrageously overpaid” and “plain and simple daylight robbers.” For a thoughtful, analytical person, this viewpoint strikes me as at best surprising. It’s not as if teams were forced to pay a few drivers large sums of money. A more objective view would recognize that the teams are doing similar analysis of the values of drivers, such as what you’ve exhibited here. But their analysis sees additional value that these top tier drivers bring to their team.

      For example, F1Metrics has noted that a driver such as Hamilton will be perhaps more valuable to a midfield team than a dominant team, (a viewpoint I subscribe to as well). I’ll propose that if Hamilton’s desires for more championships is greater than his desire for wealth, then he’ll choose to go to the team most likely to win championships, though he may be paid less than if he went elsewhere. If Hamilton is more interested in wealth, (or the challenge of battling for podium positions in a lessor car), then we may see him choose a car that lacks a dominating performance advantage. Either way, it will be mutual agreement with a team that sees the value he brings to the team. No team is being forced to throw millions at any of these drivers. The teams that pay drivers well see the potential (and real) value that these drivers bring to their team. I’ll gently counsel that your analysis could improve slightly by better accommodation of the teams’ viewpoint.

      • Thanks Vortex Motio!

        “the point is tangential at best, to an analysis of the value of Hamilton versus Rosberg.”

        Absolutely. I included a discussion of Lowe reliability since it’s much more fun to discuss the circumstances of the drivers’ battle, rather than keeping it strictly to the drivers themselves. And as you mention, reliability issues can have significant impact on driver performance, and more importantly on *perceived* performance. This can also have significant impact on driver psychology.

        For instance, Hamilton was gutted when his invisible cylinder put him on the wrong foot before the season even began. Leading the championship gave Rosberg an initial psychological advantage. Same happened in Singapore. Up to then Rosberg has been leading the WDC and was trying to maintain the gap; in Singapore he was gutted by the invisible substance, and he was never the same until the end of the season where Hamilton kept his advantage intact.

        And perceptions can be easily fooled. This initial DNF by Hamilton goes a long way to explain why people feel that Rosberg was on more or less equal footing with Hamilton throughout 2014. And it certainly is funny that after 5 GPs, Lewis and Nico were separated by a mere 3 points even though Hamilton won 4 GPs to Rosberg’s 1 GP (and even that one came when Hamilton retired from pole). When you look at VoC, however, Lewis had a gap of almost a race win (21 points). Big difference!

        As you can see, such asymmetry can take a heavy toll on both drivers’ mindsets and on public perceptions. Reliability tangential may be, but an important factor nonetheless.

        “In other words, the shiny spotlight on the reliability of the two Mercs cars is a natural by product of the team’s dominate performance advantage over the rest of the field, no matter what.”

        Indeed so. But the matter of the fact is that the Mercs were affected by really, really, really bizarre issues that not even the Caterham’s were exhibiting. In the past I’ve already heard of overheating or cold breaks, but never ever before Lowe did I hear about glazing brakes or brake temp differential, one side heating more than the other. Rarely if ever I saw teams patching brakes, to either allow them to heat or avoid overheating (can’t remember, but I think it was Hungary).

        Of course there is the argument that new technology brings new issues, and this is very well true. But no other team this year has experienced the constant brake-related embarrassments of Lowe’s Merc… When added to the string of technical issues with the cars beginning with June, a speculative but clear pattern emerges…

        “I think you’re more vulnerable to my second critique which is the populist view that you shared of top tier drivers as “outrageously overpaid” and “plain and simple daylight robbers.” [..] A more objective view would recognize that the teams are doing similar analysis of the values of drivers, such as what you’ve exhibited here.”

        Well, in a way, I did express this sentiment, but perhaps in an overly subtle way. So let me explain myself. Top tier drivers are “outrageously overpaid” simply because for a schmoe like meself, getting paid $20m + benefits for driving a company car 20 days a year for 2 hours in front of some cameras is… hmm… “daylight robbery”. These guys get paid probably more than their own CEOs, and that is a very very strange situation. This is of course a very personal view, and I acknowledge as much.

        But then I point out that these employees have “market power”, and “can force their will onto very powerful corporations”. This is to say that corporations enter willingly in a contract with the drivers. And if they choose to pay them these obscene amounts of money, they are doing it for good reasons (well, most of the times). Top tier drivers are a scarce resource, and corporations must do all they can to entice them and keep them happy, or risk losing competitive advantage wrt competitors. It is for this reason and none else that Honda and Big Ron were willing to fork out on Fred. It is for this reason that Jense significantly lowered his wage demands, since in the eyes of McLaren he had lost his market value—wrt the alternatives—and he had better be a bargain or else. Corporations clearly place a lot of value on these employees (for various reasons, performance, synergies, marketability, etc.), and the (lopsided) market gives us a glimpse of their value.

        “For example, F1Metrics has noted that a driver such as Hamilton will be perhaps more valuable to a midfield team than a dominant team, (a viewpoint I subscribe to as well).”

        I’m not so sure this would work this way. If by midfield you have in mind Lotus, Force India and Sauber, these teams will never have the financial muscle to sustain a Hamiltonesque or Alonsoesque expenditure. That simply won’t happen. Top tier drivers have the best chances of getting paid most in top tier teams.

        The current Merc performance advantage is more an aberration than anything else, and it happens once every 30 years or so. More realistic is when you have 2-3 teams battling it out (even in the Schumi domination era, Kimi came close twice while Alonso beat him to the title twice), and in those cases a top-notch driver who brings in the missing 0.5% can make all the difference in the world. And those will more of than not be the top teams, not midfield teams…

        Thanks for the feedback!

        • Well said, but please allow me a minor, but important correction, and a quick clarification…

          First, it’s erroneous to refer to F1 drivers as employees of the team. F1 drivers are contracted to provide their services to the team in a business to business contract. (For example I recommend reading Ayrton Senna’s 1987 contract with Lotus, which is available to all of us on-line at the University of California, San Francisco’s Legacy Tobacco Documents Library.)

          While the semantics of that error may seem minor, it’s an important distinction in regards to better understanding the subtle difference in how teams would approach the same analysis that you’ve done here. The teams evaluate drivers as service providers, and want to enter into contract with a service provider that will be most profitable in regards to 1) championship points earned for the team, 2) marketing on behalf of the team, and 3) sponsorship money brought to the team (enumerated to distinguish bullet points, not to rate importance, btw).

          Finally, let me clarify myself in regards to the following. I had previously said, “…For example, F1Metrics has noted that a driver such as Hamilton will be perhaps more valuable to a midfield team than a dominant team, (a viewpoint I subscribe to as well).”

          And you responded with, “I’m not so sure this would work this way. If by midfield you have in mind…”

          I should have been more clear on this point:

          F1Metrics highlighted that Rosberg out-qualified Hamilton more often than not, while Hamilton’s slight advantage in race performances won him the drivers championship.

          It’s possible that Mercedes could’ve won both championships with Nico and another lessor driver. This devalues the slight edge in performance that a driver like Hamilton brings to a dominating team on race day. F1Metrics even created a model to delineate such an advantage, (though I suspect that model has an error or two).

          Hamilton’s value is higher to a team battling against cars with similar performance to their own. In that situation the small advantage that a driver like Hamilton has over his team-mate (and other drivers) is magnified because a lessor race performance is punished not just with the loss of one position, but with the loss of two, three, four or more positions. See for example the points earned by Alonso and Ricciardo versus their team-mates in 2014.

          Let me reiterate, I thought this article was wonderful, thoughtful, and educational. (And not just cause I agree with you on most all of your points!) Cheers!

          • “it’s erroneous to refer to F1 drivers as employees of the team. F1 drivers are contracted to provide their services to the team in a business to business contract.”

            Fascinating! This certainly changes perspective… I’ll have to mull over this for some time to come. 🙂

            As an aside, I have a feeling that F1 teams have fallen victim to their own success. For years and years and years they wanted to make their F1 activities into a “global platform for whatever BS the marketing types would think of”, all under Bernard’s caring and loving leadership… And they achieved that. And now are paying the price, for the simple reason that F1 is now also a “global platform for showcasing blunders and otherwise embarrassing incidents, including mediocre performance”.

            F1 drivers are supremely intelligent, and the best ones—of which teams cannot easily dispose of, as in Alonso, for instance—have quickly learned the trick, and just like spoiled children learned how to force, bite and otherwise mistreat the hand that feeds them. And I suspect the astronomical rewards that these poor, scrawny subcontractors get can be looked at from under this light…

            And if you look at things from this perspective, it really is puzzling that McLaren and Honda decided to contract Alonso, and effectively gave him a global platform to embarrass them—at the whisper of a tweet— the team that Alonso dislikes most…

            “It’s possible that Mercedes could’ve won both championships with Nico and another lessor driver. This devalues the slight edge in performance that a driver like Hamilton brings to a dominating team on race day. ”

            Agreed. And the relevant question from me, as pointed out in other comments below, is: Would a lesser driver bring with him a deteriorated car performance, hence a significantly less dominating car performance? If not immediately, in the short term…

            Put differently, are drivers passive figures good only for throwing the car over the finish line? Or are they an integral part to the car’s (dominant) performance, their relevant feedback generating synergies in the engineering department and allowing senior technical staff to optimally improve the car?

            “Hamilton’s value is higher to a team battling against cars with similar performance to their own. [..] See for example the points earned by Alonso and Ricciardo versus their team-mates in 2014.”


            Thanks for sharing you thoughts!

        • I beg to differ!

          I’m not sure how important it is that he looks or not like a fool to others. Try to sense how he feels about himself.

          Take a good look at the picture, and notice his body language: He’s clearly enjoying himself. He knows full well how foolish he may be looking to others, and that’s kind of the point, that he’s in a position to do that. And that’s why he’s clearly enjoying himself. His posture seems to be reeking, rightly or wrongly, of “I’m king of the world”.

          By comparison, Nico’s body language seems subdued, uncomfortable. He looks pretty much like how he looked after Spa…

          I suspect that going into 2015, Lewis has the psychological advantage, and Nico shall need a lot of effort to crawl it back.

  1. Seriously mate, unless you can prove directly that Paddy Lowe’s leadership played a direct role with some the teams reliability problems, then just give it a rest and show the man a little respect.

    Ross chose to leave the team, so get over the Ross love and move on.

    • Paddy Lowe has a remarkably checkered history when it comes to reliability, and with royally screwing up cars. From 2001 he was appointed Chief Engineer Systems Development, a role focusing on the race programme for the McLaren MP4-20, and from 2005 he assumed a senior technical position in McLaren, overseeing all the engineering departments, and in 2011 he became Technical Director. In 2013 he assumed Executive Director Technical at Merc.

      And what happened under his leadership? For quite a long time McLaren was known for building rather fast cars, who tended to blow up or otherwise break, especially during the Schumi domination era. Remember all those broken cars who denied Kimi the championship, and ultimately pushed him to switch to Ferrari? This may or may not be attributed to Lowe, but he was part of the senior technical staff at McLaren in those days.

      Then let’s consider Lowe’s part in Lewis’ departure from McLaren. Lewis made his final decision to jump ships after his retirement from the lead in the Singapore GP 2012. There are voices suggesting that Lewis failed to win the 2012 WDC entirely due to reliability troubles, which denied him victory on separate occasions. Other than Singapore that year, Lewis retired with fuel pressure issues from the lead in Abu Dhabi. Not incredibly much, but sufficient to take the McLaren boys out of the WDC hunt in what many termed the fastest car on the grid.

      And then there was pull-rod for 2013. There is sufficient evidence (also reported by TJ13), that Lowe was at the heart of the decision to switch from push-rod to pull-rod suspension, forcing Whitmarsh’s hand with the metaphorical “I know what I’m doing, it’s gonna work!”, and completely break what was assumed to be the fastest car of the grid in 2012. McLaren had their annus horribilis that in 2013, with no podium. And Lowe jumped ships during that same year to Merc.

      And what has happened at Merc? Ross Brawn stepped back as soon as Lowe was in, and bowed out before the beginning of 2014. Other than Lewis’ invisible cylinder in Australia, the Merc was bullet-proof up until Canada. Just a month earlier Merc lost Phil Arnaboldi, mostly responsible for the packaging of Merc internals. And we can safely assume that in June 2014 the Brawn direction was starting to slowly evaporate, while the Lowe input has had sufficient lag to start trickling into the car.

      Since June 2014 Merc, the most efficient and bullet-proof package put in place by Saint Ross from the pre-season tests, has had embarrassing brake issues up until the end of the season. If the brakes weren’t cold, then they were glazing. If they weren’t glazing, they were heating up (funnily, on one side of the car, provoking significant brake temp differential like in Austin quali). If they weren’t heating up, they were becoming invisible (like in Germany quali). Then there was the invisible substance on Rosberg’s car in Singapore. The failed MGU-K in both Canada and Abu Dhabi. Not to forget the spectacular Hamilton flambé in Hungary. Etc., etc., etc.

      Beginning with June 2014 Merc was a string of embarrassing technical failures, and as Executive Director Technical, Lowe is ultimately directly responsible for each of these failures. This is why I affectionately assigned him the Leprechaun effect.

      It is interesting how when you check the VoC tables at the end of the year, the Merc boys were the most affected by lost points due to reliability issues:
      Lewis Hamilton 1 424 +40
      Nico Rosberg 2 387 +70

      Close to that comes only Felipe Massa, at +22. Of course it is true that Merc was so dominant that they were bound to show up highly in any such ranks, and that each race-day failure would ultimately cost the Merc boys more than any other team. But notice that Red Bull hasn’t had even half of Merc’s embarrassing incidents, and their Renault barely managed a mile or two during pre-season tests. Same for Williams, McLaren and FI: they played with the same engine, but none of the reliability embarrassments that have plagued the Merc.

      Make of this what you will, but there is a big, bold question mark when it comes to Paddy Lowe and reliability…

      • Yes. And to ascribe the failure of McLaren to Hamilton’s leaving, as the post does at the end, is simply a post hoc ergo proctor hoc logical fallacy. Hamilton was smart to see the writing on the wall and switch teams; his leaving was a result of Mclaren’s failure to produce a good car, among other things, not the cause.

        • Well, thankfully there is no controversy around the notion that senior technical staff have a causal effect on car development. That little is easy.

          But things are messier when it comes to drivers, and much depends on what you world-view is on drivers: the arrow of causality isn’t as clear-cut as it may seem. There are those (like the Judge) who feel that drivers are mostly passive figures. They get a car that is developed by engineers (and mathematical models) and tested in the simulator by test-drivers; optimize the package locally using their very own bumometer; and that’s pretty much it. In other words, drivers don’t develop the car; engineers do. By this token your argument would work nicely.

          Then there are other voices (like myself) who feel that drivers, especially lead drivers, are an integral part to car development, and ultimately have a direct impact (not necessarily the greatest or the most important, but still tangible and sufficiently important to make a difference) on car development and ultimately on engineering performance. Drivers, being the only ones who actually drive the beasts in real-life conditions, give engineers essential feedback on what works, what doesn’t, what needs to be improved, and what would be nice to have. As an analogy, think of open-source development: projects would be nothing without users using them in real-life conditions, testing new releases, filing bug reports, and requesting new features. That’s in a nutshell what F1 drivers do.

          The arguments for this worldview are numerous. Many believe that Michael Schumacher was an integral part to Ferrari success, not merely by throwing the car over the finish line as quickly as he could, but also by “building the team around him”, requesting of engineers what he needed, etc., etc.

          Then you have Sebastien Vettel; many believe that his success was not only due to Newey’s engineering prowess, but also to him giving Adrian useful feedback. He managed to have Newey give him the car that worked wonderfully for him and him alone; Webber got left out in the cold. Seb is fabled for clocking long hours with engineers, long after a session was over, and recently when Seb tested and old Ferrari and started pointing out issues with the car that were never noticed before, a certain mud-dwelling mammal was gloating over how the fabled Fred never managed to notice these things and how delighted the engineers were upon the driver’s relevant feedback. ( http://thejudge13.com/2014/12/02/voice-of-the-f1-fans-alonso-the-home-wrecker/#comment-111694 )

          On the opposite side of the spectrum you have have Fred, who after 5 years in a Ferrari has never managed to get from Maranello anything other than a rectangular-shaped red brick. Some argue that Fred is utterly useless at developing cars (there, I said it! but if I were more politically correct, I’d say “at helping engineers with car development”), and as one commenter put it—from memory—“Schumacher always asked for what he needed; Alonso was always more concerned with what was due to him”.

          But at least Alonso can drive his way around car problems; Button cannot. There is this running theory that Button is utterly useless at car development. As examples are given his Honda years, where he was driving “a dog of a car”. According to f1esty (but can’t find the link), it was only when Brawn came in and Davidson took control of car development, that the 2009 challenger came to life. In the 1st half of 2009 Button was sublime, but was eclipsed in the 2nd half by Barrichello; according to f1esty car development switched to Barrichello’s lead later in the year, which allowed the latter to get two wins. Another example is Button in 2012, according to many reports (including http://thejudge13.com/2013/12/09/daily-f1-news-and-comment-monday-09-december-2013/#comment-35321 but also the Judge) when McLaren tried to follow Button’s feedback and development direction, only to end up in a blind alley. They reverted to Hamilton’s development direction, and the car was back on track for both of them.

          And lastly there was McLaren 2013 and 2014. Before the beginning of that season, Button was making grandiose statements on how fit he was to lead a top-tier team ( http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/104776 ), and we all know how that ended.

          It seems to me that it’s hellish to try to disentangle the two effects on car development: engineering by senior technical staff and lead driver development direction. And McLaren were plagued by two separate changes: Hamilton leaving beginning 2013, and Whitmarsh & Lowe making their cack-handed decision to go pull-ord. I suspect only Big Ron has sufficient info on what had affected the McLaren most, while we common mortals can but speculate.

          My point is, I guess, that there is an argument to be made that lead drivers are essential in helping engineers to avoid ending up in blind alleys wrt car development. And if you don’t deny this flat-out, then you could also entertain that Hamilton leaving McLaren may have causally contributed to McLaren’s downfall in 2013, by lowering the level of accurate technical feedback coming from drivers (Perez isn’t known for his technical feedback, either, and by some reports this was part of the reason he got kicked out by McLaren) and thus making engineers being more blind-folded than before in their quest for car performance.

          And lest we forget, Saint Ross openly declared that they wanted to recruit Hamilton so as to rejuvenate their car development program. And he had this to say after Hamilton’s first test for Merc (emphasis mine):
          “He is clearly a very talented driver,” said Brawn. “But F1 is about so much more. *There are a lot of highly talented drivers who do not have the rest of it. *

          “*I think he has the rest of it as well*.”

          “He is very straightforward I have to say,” explained Brawn. “In many ways he is very simple, very straightforward. He tells us what he thinks.

          “He is never short of detail in telling you what he thinks and, of course, *you learn at what level you need to go to*. He is interested in everything about the car. He is interested in the fact that the stickers might not be put properly on the bodywork.

          “He has a very good eye for detail, so I think he will be *a very involved member of the team*, which is what we wanted.”

          “I think it is still very early in terms of *understanding what he wants from a car perspective*. We need a greater spread before we get to understand that bit, but he is clearly a person who enjoys being *involved at all levels*.

          “That is a great motivation for the team. He has been *working hard with the engineers at this test*. He has been here on the days that Nico [Rosberg] has been driving, listening on the headset to what has been going on. So, he is everything I hoped he would be.”

          “We have made it very clear to Lewis that he is part of the solution,” he said. “You have a choice in the team – you are either a problem or you are a solution.

          “He is part of the solution to get us where we want to be.

          “He knows that and he understands it and I think he is relishing it. It is correct that *he gives us his reference points* and *helps us understand what he must focus on*.

          “Some of them we knew already and that is why we restructured the aero group, so I welcome that approach.

          “It needs to be constructive and it needs to be positive, but criticism of the right sort is always helpful as it drives you forward.”

          Brawn knows his stuff, and this doesn’t seem like the attitude of a senior engineer relegating drivers to a passive role of throwing the car as quickly as they can over the finish line…

    • Oh, my criticism notwithstanding, I feel that Paddy Lowe is a brilliant engineer trapped in an uncomfortable and insecure shell. Which of course earned him “being afraid of his own shadow” and similar japes throughout 2014.

      I feel that the guy simply isn’t made for the spotlight, and the farther you keep him hidden in his office and behind his desk, the better and more impressive his results will be.

  2. Hamilton is incredible fast, and apparently incredible limited intellectually. He is his own worst enemy and probably will be again in 2015. I was sure Rosberg was winning the championship and never thought that the reason was that he was faster than Hamilton. He wasn’t and he isn’t. I’m surprised that nobody has noted that Hamilton’s season changed when a single element came into play: the return of Anthony Hamilton to his side during every single moment of race weekends. When I saw him for second consecutive weekend, and knowing how smart the guy is, I started to worry about Lewis dominating the rest of the season if he was able to keep him focused, as happened. Also my impression is that Nico didn’t recover mentally from Spa fast enough.

    • Given the penalty from the team against Rosberg it’s no real surprise that he didn’t recover mentally fast enough.

      • What penalty was he given? Weren’t both drivers in the dog house with the team after Spa?

        So what does that say about Nico’s mentality? He’s weak and he festers on things that happened in the past, like in Hungary. They had a month off after that race, enough time to go away, relax and come back fresh and ready to go, nope, he came back still peeved off that Lewis didn’t let him pass.

        When Seb got his rollicking from everyone for ‘multi 21’ he effectively said “screw everyone I want to win a championship.” He took all the criticism and continues to do what he needed to do to win the championship, that’s what real champions do, and that’s what Nico isn’t, a champion.

        So yea, let’s continue with, ‘he didn’t recover after the penalty’ that doesn’t help him, it rather makes him look weak.

        • You are comparing apples to oranges though. At the time of Multi21, Seb had already 3 titles to his name and the team order was technically the team cheating him. They had told him to leave a gap mid-race when he wanted to attack Mark, telling him to wait for a later time. When that time came they said ‘screw you’ and Seb answered in kind. And what you say ‘champions do’, played in my opinion a large role in the piss poor treatment he got from the team in 2014. I’m pretty sure there were more than one people on the team who considered it payback for how he ran roughshod over the team in Malaysia ’13.

          As for Nico and Lewis. At that time Lewis had already gotten away with murder, when he completely ignored the team in Hungary. That’s when Nico’s spirit was broken as he knew that his team mate could play foul and get away with it. Spa was a frustration move in part and he was publically pilloried before he was even given the chance to present his side of the story. His team mate meanwhile could leak team internals to the press and not even been ticked off for it. If you have such discrepancies in how you and your team mate are treated, you have another Vettel-Webber combination. At some point Rosberg gave up, knowing that he’ll not be given a fair shot due to political reasons.

          • I’m sorry hippo, that don’t fly. Nico had the perfect opportunity to win a WDC and at the same time beat one of the best drivers to that crown, a man that he has never once bettered in a championship that they’ve both participated in. What more motivation do you need than that? So I’ll stick to that point that he is very weak mentally. Do you think any of the other top drivers would’ve caved in like he did? Hell no! They would’ve took the points and the criticism and proceed to squeeze the life out of Lewis. Lewis was at breaking point after Spa and that was the perfect time for Nico to grab his opportunity, because there’s no guarantee that in 2015 he will have that chance again.

            ‘Strike while the irons hot’

            Lewis has a mental stranglehold over Nico and its something he has has since their days racing in the lower categories.

            As for Lewis apparently getting away with ‘murder’, are we conveniently forgetting what Nico did in Bahrain with switching to an engine mode that he wasn’t suppose to use? Are we also foegetting that it was he who leaked it to the media that Lewis did the same in Spain? And what about, hmm I’ll let that one go. So it was not only Lewis who leaked team internals, they both did it, so let’s be fair.

          • While I like Nico, he seemed desperate at times (Lewis was the same some race weekends). However the critical difference between the two is that Lewis used his innate speed and racing skill to keep Nico at bay and used any anger he had to win races not bash into his team mate as Nico did in Spa. That’s the moment where Lewis gained the upper hand. And you can whine about Political machinations within the team all you like Fat Hippo, the simple fact is Nico never managed to overtake Lewis and make it stick when it mattered (happened before and after Spa). If he can overcome that this season, then the fight between the two should be a lot closer. And no I’m not a massive Lewis fan (if anything It’s Alonso where my blinkers appear).

            What do I hope for in 2015 ? That Nico overcomes the mental block he appears to have in terms of overtaking Lewis, if he can manage that then the gloves will be off. Hopefully Williams will be a lot closer to Mercedes to complicate matters further and I hope Alonso and Jenson get a car that can challenge for podiums at some point in the season.

    • @Juan Ramos

      “Hamilton is incredible fast, and apparently incredible limited intellectually.”

      Be aware that this can be construed as racist. Intelligence comes in many shapes and forms, and the intelligence of a musician is very different from the intelligence of a professional athlete which is itself very different from the intelligence of an academic.

      Hamilton is an incredibly intelligent individual, and if he weren’t he wouldn’t be in the position in which he is now. He may be an emotional yo-yo, which tends to render him an emotional wreck more often than necessary, negatively affecting his day-to-day job. But this doesn’t make him any more or less intelligent than others. His knack for quick, instinctive decisions in race trim, when adrenaline is pumping, may be subject to some debate but is nonetheless well documented. If this is not evidence of intelligence, I don’t know what is.

      • Intelligence, by many including me, is seen as the ability to make quick decisions and also considering their impact. Something which Lewis has proven to be unable to in the past. An intelligent person would not do the same mistake twice. He often does, like leaking team internals. Not being able to understand that an ‘internal meeting’ means the subject of discussion stays between the attendees is certainly not the sign of ‘an incredibly intelligent individual’ – at least not for me. And don’t let us get started on his frequent verbal snafus in interviews. You may call it lack of intelligence or lack of common sense or whatever – he certainly lacks a bit in how he presents himself in the public. Much of the damage to his public image has been done by himself, and smart that is not.

        • Maybe you should also translate to Nico what ‘internal meetings’ mean.

          Remember ‘testgate’? Was it not he who went blabbing to Seb in Monaco about doing the rest? Or how about blabbing to the media about using forbidden engine modes?

          Doesn’t seem very intelligent does it?

        • “… Not being able to understand that an ‘internal meeting’ means the subject of discussion stays between the attendees is certainly not the sign of ‘an incredibly intelligent individual – at least not for me. … ” etc.

          I don’t know about that.

          I see it as the mark of a very intelligent, shrewd, calculating man to “leak” such internal matters and then pretend that it was just an impulsive quick decision made without having thought things through.

          A masterstroke by a genius

          A man supremely confident about everything about himself. (The same reason he can wear what he wants without any care what the Fat Hippo thinks)

          Although Fat Hippo will see that as someone who is stupid and/or arrogant.

          • Do you really believe that? You haven’t worked in teams very often have you? There is absolutely nothing genius about fucking over the people you work with.

          • There’s nothing genuis about it if it fails to accomplish its purpose, but if it does, then it’s masterstroke. I’ve seen that happened first hand.

            Case in point Spa and Nico being made public enemy #1

        • “Hamilton is incredible fast, and apparently incredible limited intellectually.” This is an arbitrary statement that doesn’t reflect what happens on the track. One of Hamilton’s strengths is his ability to learn faster than anybody else, he is always fastest on a new track and he quickly adjust to changing conditions – he used the wind to pass Rosberg at the USGP. Rosberg, on the other hand, couldn’t adjust and admitted that it hurt him. Thinking fast is one sign of a well developed intellect.

      • “…..incredibly intelligent….”? Oh come on. He’s a smart man and a very good driver, but incredibly intelligent? Not.

        • And how does one determine if someone is ‘incredibly intelligent’?

          I mean everyone says Rosberg is a very smart and intelligent person, but somehow he keeps making the same mistakes over and over again. So if we were to go by the hippos definition, then you’d have to say that Nico is as dumb as a brick.

          • Well, I judge intelligence at a distance by the wit of discussion and the clarity of presentation and understanding of ideas, as well as visual cues of comfort in situations requiring thought. ‘Incredibly intelligent’ is a characteristic I would apply to very few persons, especially ones I have never personally met.

            We can only judge by what we see, hear, and read and Lewis (and Nico) seem to be smart people but not incredibly so. I judge Nico as smarter than Lewis by these standards. You, of course, must judge by your standards but I don’t have to blindly accept your judgement, just as you don’t have to accept mine.

            I suspect your judgment is a bit clouded by your fanboi adoration, and I don’t mean that in a dismissive way; I think you really are unable to stand back a bit when discussing Lewis and so take any criticism of him as an attack – which it generally is not. This comment is not a personal attack on you, simply an observation and response to your previous comment.

        • All the top-tier drivers, and even those half a step behind, are incredibly intelligent individuals. The things that they do behind the wheel requires nothing short of incredible intelligence, quick thinking, adaptability, sharp instincts and, not least, an unwavering work ethos. And I would argue that there isn’t one single world champion who is short on intelligence, yet here we’re talking about a double WDC.

          Now you will probably argue that intelligence should be measured “by the wit of discussion and the clarity of presentation and understanding of ideas”. But the thing is that they don’t *need* this to be intelligent; academics do, or average schmoes, but they don’t. They still are extremely intelligent, even when they can’t string two phrases in English or babble like idiots in front of the press. Their (main) intelligence is very different from that of the hoi polloi (like your humble representative, meself), and half of the TJ13 population won’t be able to do half of the things that these drivers can do without even giving it a thought. (Same holds for musicians; the things that they do with a musical instrument or composition is nothing short of extraordinary, and beyond the wild imagination of other people.)

          So singling out Hamilton as “incredible limited intellectually” or unable “to make quick decisions and also considering their impact”, thus putting his intelligence in doubt, sounds like a very silly and random thing to do, at the very least. All the top-tier drivers have relatively little spread with respect to intelligence, so we either put them all in the same basket, or none.

          And all top-tier drivers have been involved in embarrassing incidents over the years. So do Hamilton detractors also believe that Alonso is short on intelligence because he blackmailed McLaren, and then over the years painted himself in a corner with all teams thus ending up in the very place that he hates most: Big Ron’s MTC? Or Vettel, because he went for a “hissy fit” and then called the new engines “sh*t”, attracting widespread ridicule? Or Rosberg for having parked in Monaco in dubious circumstances and *reversed onto an active track*, and thus attracted the label of a “cheat”, rightly or wrongly? Or perhaps Rosberg is short on intelligence because he was unable “to make quick decisions and also considering their impact” in pretty much every overtaking maneuver that he has attempted this year, each time falling flat on his face by either failing to overtake, bricking his tires, clipping their teammate or shoving their opponent off-track?

          This obsession by some to fixate specifically on Lewis’ intelligence seems at the very least unhealthy, and not a particularly bright or intelligent thing to do. And I guess this is what I was trying to do by highlighting Hamilton’s obvious incredible intelligence, not at all dissimilar to that of your Rosberg’s, Alonso’s, Raikkonen’s, Vettel’s, Bottas’, etc., etc., etc. If Saint Ross considers Lewis intelligent, then I suspect most of us common mortals can confidently share that opinion…

  3. Nice work buddy.

    correct about the car advantage benefiting Rosberg, especially in races 2-5.

      • I feel it benefited Rosberg more. a lot of his P2 finishes were pure gifts. Hamilton gained on Hungary because his advantage was enough to get back to 3rd From a qualy fire.

        When it was straight up Ham vs Rosberg ham generally won
        Had the competition been closer some of this P2 finishes would have been challenged more.

        • That’s too simplistic, I think. One thing that helped Lewis a lot is that, like Vettel, he could pump out two quick laps right from the bat to shake Rosberg out of DRS range. At that point the race is effectively over.
          And romping through the field is not exclusive to Lewis. Remember Russia?
          One of the most perpetuated things is that Rosberg never managed to overtake Lewis on track. Well, it was not for lack of trying. There had been several races in which Rosberg attacked Lewis, but Hamilton’s chopping antics are second only to Alonso and more often than not Rosberg backed off to avoid a crash. The one time he didn’t, he was drawn and quartered by Wolff and Lauda. That are things to consider as well. Mercedes did not treat their drivers equally, something that a lot of the same people have been saying about Red Bull the last years.

          • I was counting the romping through the field as Hamilton benefiting from the advantage. Did you watch the Russia race. Rosberg didn’t come through the field. He merely pitted early. He gained places as people pitted.

          • What are those ‘several races’ that you are referring to?

            The only race that Lewis defended his position aggressively from Nico, was Bahrain and Hungary. Name the others where he had to do so? Actually name the other races where Nico ‘attacked’ Lewis?

            You mention his aggressive defense, so has Nico not done the same? Are we forgetting the start of the race in Canada, where he effectively lost the lead going into T1 and then proceeded to shove Lewis off onto the grass at T2. I didn’t hear anyone complaining about Nico’s aggressive driving then.

          • @Spanners

            Not to mention Nico’s cack-handed attempt to overtake Lewis in T1 in Sochi, flintstoning his tires. And just as cack-handed his overtake of Bottas later in the race, shoving him into cutting the chicane, a similar move for which KMan and others got penalized on several occasions.

          • @landroni….

            And let’s not forget Canada when he locked up and floored it through the run off area.

          • Chopping? Give me a break! Bahrain turn 2 was the only marginal one for the entire year. The others are wedge outs that have been part of racing since there’s been racing.

            If you ordered the current grid in terms of dirty driving, the likes of Hamilton, Alonso and Ricciardo wouldn’t be anywhere near the top.

          • @Fortis

            After Sochi T1, my favorite “doing a Rosberg” moment came in Spa when Nico was desperate to pass Vettel, misjudged his move coming into the Bus stop chicane, bricked his tires, and was forced to pit one time more than necessary. Thus gifting an airtight win—as the other Merc was neutralized—to Danny boy…


            Bahrain T2 could also be viewed as poor decision-making in the heat of the moment by Nico. Lewis’ swerve was clearly overly aggressive, so if he kept it straight and then argued that he couldn’t react and that Lewis came at him, then Lewis would have gotten the exact same treatment from Merc that Nico got for his Spa move, for having broken the Merc toys.

            But that Nico didn’t do. He chose to draw in the sand “Thus far and no further” in the worst possible circumstance, when he would have been at fault for any contact, and got summarily disciplined for it by the Merc management. (Even if he is the one with the long-term contract at the team!) Given how it all played out, I’m wondering who is actually the brainier of the two… And who was better at making quick decisions and also considering their impact…

          • @landroni, funny you mentioned the Spa race, ‘cos I just finished watching it back again. The move on Vettel was totally desperate, and he lost a place to Bottas on the back straight right after it. Of course he then needed to pit again. Later on he passed Button by cutting a corner at Eau Rouge, meaning he had to give it back later on in the lap. Just ham-fisted stuff.

            Lastly, didn’t remember how loud the booing was for him on the podium. It was LOUD.

          • @landroni, he didn’t change direction, he opened the steering wheel a little to angle Rosberg out. I saw nothing wrong with it at the time, and still don’t. It was telegraphed to Rosberg, who pulled out of it when the move wasn’t on.

          • I wonder if your opinion would be the same if you were ‘mildly angled out’ like that on a karting track. I’d say, probably not.

          • @KRB

            Well, he did change his overall trajectory / path in the middle of the corner… In the end it was all honky-donkey, as Rosberg backed out and did not find himself completely pushed off-track. But do that to a Raikkonen, and could have ended up in tears. This graphs shows nicely how positively jerky was his trajectory in that corner:


            This said, Rosberg was never even close to half a car length alongside Hamilton in that corner… And when he did get close to that he had already lost all momentum…

            So, yeah, it’s a Senna-esquely engineered 50/50: would there have been accident, it would have been ultimately been put down to a racing incident. It was mildly aggressive, but not quite Prost Jr-like…

        • Rosberg definitely benefitted from the car’s performance gap. From F1Metrics:

          “The graph shows that when a driver has a 60% chance of beating their teammate in a race, their chance of finishing ahead in the championship is about 60% in a very dominant car (team points ~700), about 75% in a midfield car (team points ~200), and about 60% in a backmarker car (team points ~20). In other words, the stronger driver has the best chance of outscoring their teammate when they are in a midfield or lower midfield team (team points ~100-300). When the car is near the front, championship positions are more affected by random DNFs. When the car is very uncompetitive, championship positions are largely determined by the single best race result in the season, which can involve considerable luck (e.g., Marques vs. Alonso).”

          If the gap between the cars is closer, then this should be to Rosberg’s detriment. Rosberg’s races at Hungary and Belgium were perfect examples of how he couldn’t grind out a win that was there for the taking, even with the setbacks (one of his own doing of course) that happened.

          • Hmm, I’m not entirely sold on the Hulk, and it appears even the betting agencies don’t believe in him. On SkyBet Hulk is 250/1 for the WDC, while Perez is 200/1. I certainly think he’s better than Perez. Could just be weird betting lines … they do have McLaren with the 2nd best odds for the WCC. Either they know something, or that’s just ‘cos they know some people will put money on McLaren each and every year.

  4. Oh good… more Lewis vs Nico arguments, for a moment I thought you’d all run out of material 😛

    BTW nice article Landroni, i enjoyed reading it and your above reply re: Paddy Lowe.

    • Thanks, bender!

      Yeah, I figured life was too easy and honky-donkey for the Judge, so I thought to myself: Why not open the floodgates? And then let the Judge enjoy himself…. 🙂

      A good ol’ merry-go-round of Nico vs Lewis (and Lewis vs Lewis) is always fun to watch!

  5. Indeed, oh no, more of the Hamilton vs Rosberg arguments.

    As I feel the undertone of the article is about the negotiations of Hamilton’s new contact, I would like to focus on this.

    Irrespective of whether Hamilton or Rosberg is the far better driver (useless discussion) the negotiations are about return on investment. I think we all agree that there is no doubt any other set of drivers put in the 2014 Mercedes would have won both the WCC and WDC, with WCC as the TEAMS no. 1 priority. Whichever drivers wins the WDC after winning WCC is irrelevant. There is precedent that the advantage of Mercedes will be maintained for the (near-)future.

    Now comes the key question: if any driver with a lower salary demand will deliver you the goods, why not hire this one? What has been the incremental added value of the driver Hamilton in the TEAM result vs. his cost? This is the actual debate, where I tend to feel that Hamilton his negotiation position is not looking so good.

    F1 is foremost a TEAM sport with the TEAM effort being decisive. Doing a hell of a job on the development of the car (directing a lot of investment into the engineering side of the team) might be able to afford the team a (slightly) less (financially) demanding driver.

    To be clear, of course it is obvious that a (multiple) world champion can ask for more by virtue of his track record (providing statistics that he is more likely to perform well (enough) than a rookie for example, reducing the risk of your investment). However, the details is in the incremental performance vs. cost.

    • Hamitlon wins championship in a dominant car and what do we hear…

      ‘Oh any driver on the grid could’ve done so in that car’….

      Interestingly that statement was rarely if ever mentioned during Seb’s 4 year domination. Is the aim of that statement meant to belittle his achievement?

      Lewis negotiationing his new contract and now the talk is about ROI. Yet again a phrase that’s never been used before. Didn’t hear it with when either Seb or Alonso negotiated their respective deals. So why is it that ROI is of importance now.

      Whatever money Mercedes invested in Lewis in terms of salary, I’m confident with saying that theyve easily recouped that salary whilst making a very tidy profit at the same time and they’ll still make a very good ROI on any future salary he’s paid.

      Football is a TEAM sport, that also requires substantial investments, but that doesn’t stop the best players asking for what they think they’re worth to that TEAM.

      • Football is not Formula One. A driver contributes a small bit to the dominance of a car, maybe the final 5% or whatever, whereas a good footballer can make a huge difference to the outcome. They are both team sports, but F1 depends on massive engineering effort; football is entirely the skill of the players. Bad example.

        • No it’s not a bad example, because a good football teams success depends on how good the players, managers and back room staff are. In essence, the players are the engineers and managers and backroom staff are the team principle and department heads and if the entire package is good, then they’ll dominate, ala Barcelona, Man Utd and Bayern Munich.

          Doesn’t a good driver also makes a difference to the final outcome? Does the name Alonso sounds familiar? Did you see what he did with that prancing donkey compared to his teammate?

          • Goodness this “Gomer” is truly as Gomer (as we say in the U.S. of a bumpkin-sounding clown figure). Without proper knowledge of the car he/she drives the teams cannot make the necessary adjustments to fit the vagaries of the driver’s driving style. It takes intelligence to comprehend all that’s going on in an F1 car and to be able to accurately relay positives and negatives to mechanics and engineers.

            It has been said far too often to dismiss that Lewis Hamilton’s greatest strengths are his dogged pursuit of understanding the vehicle he drives. He is the man making late night and early morning calls to Paddy Lowe (per Lowe), as did his F1 hero, Ayrton Senna (odd how Hamilton learned the off-track traits that separated Senna from other drivers but rarely receives credit for this).

            Additionally, as one venerable F1 journo said assessing Hamilton and Rosberg with the season winding down, “Lewis Hamilton’s greatest achievement is making people think he’s not intelligent.”

            Oh, and Fat Hippo, Hamilton was the “star” of the 2014 Mercedes “Feature Short” shot DURING last season, on a weekend between races. So he did EXACTLY what Merc asked of him (besides the myriad photo shoots and appearances with Rosberg).

            See? Hippo’s comment about Hamilton, “I have yet to see a Merc commercial with him,” is long on bias and very short on intelligence. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to trundle over to Merc’s website or to its You Tube Channel where he could have viewed “making of the film” videos, complete with mentions from the film makers about how professional Hamilton is and how quickly he absorbs new information and then uses it correctly.

            Failing to perform a modicum of research before commenting on Hamilton and commercials exhibits a distinct lack of intelligence. After all, a person cannot be construed as “intelligent” if they are too lazy to use the native intellect they might.

            What is intelligence without its application? Ignorance.

            (BTW, I wonder how many of you would do growing up in public as has Lewis Hamilton? It took Roger Federer – who also grew up in public, albeit in the relative to Britain, silence, of Switzerland – 24 years before he stopped squandering his talent; his nickname on the ATP Tour was, “Club Fed” until he used his intellect and committed himself to training and to thinking his way through every point of every match he played).

            And here I thought a 2nd WDC for Hamilton would silence the haters enough to stop them from publicizing their biases toward Hamilton. Instead we get a hackneyed retread, “Lewis Hamilton isn’t intelligent.”

            Not something new – a retread! How ignorant.

            (Also, TJ13, I really do hope you can get Streiff for an interview!!!)

      • Hi Fortis,

        I rarely reply on this forum, however, your comparisons with Vettel to make your point are irrelevant. Why do you attack my point if view as if I am a Vettel supporter or fan?

        I am the first to acknowledge that Vettel his wins are also for a large part due to the car, however there are some circumstances different. I am trying to be objective here. For example, Webber has not consistently beaten the rest of the field, from the back or front. That at least tells that in that case there was (some) added value from Vettel compared to Webber.

        Let me once more stress that I am not here to bash Hamilton (which, I’m sorry Fortis, you often seem to pick out from other comments). Once more, I think it is obvious Hamilton can negotiate a larger sum compared to others (maybe every other current driver to stroke your Hamilton heart). However, to stress once more, the detail in in the additional TEAM performance per cost.

    • if thats true,why has Mclaren demoted their team leader Button a world champion and gave him a pay cut for Alonso?while giving Alonso a massive pay packet….drivers just dont make a differrence in developing the car and delivering performance,but more importantly in motivating and inspiring the team….creating a posture of impending performance…..thats what you get with an Alonso and a Hamilton……you will never get that with a Button or Nico……In the same way some guys just get knickers wet by just being, in the same way engineers get giddy to design cars for these guys and thats why they command their pay.

    • @AJ

      Glad to see you in these dark and lonely corners of TJ13! Getting your hands dirty must feel good, ain’t it so? 😉

      “Now comes the key question: if any driver with a lower salary demand will deliver you the goods, why not hire this one? What has been the incremental added value of the driver Hamilton in the TEAM result vs. his cost?”

      I suspect this is related to my long-winded rant above ( http://thejudge13.com/2015/01/25/voice-of-the-f1-fans-mercedes-drivers-how-close-was-it-really/comment-page-1/#comment-122477 ), namely:
      What goods exactly are we talking about? Are drivers passive figures, merely useful to throw the car as fast as they can over the finish line? Or are they integral part in the never-ending loop of engineering effort, driver feedback, engineering effort, all over countless hours of late after-session sessions; and thus essential to sane car development?

      I think there is sufficient evidence, at least from his public musings, that Saint Ross recruited Hamilton not only for his speed, namely also for his technical feedback that would help engineers in car development. (This by itself should speak volumes about Brawn’s opinion on Rosberg’s technical prowess…) It doesn’t look like the Wolff shares this view, however.

      If drivers are truly irrelevant when it comes to car development, as many seem to argue, and the Leprechaun manages not to screw up the car, and Merc keeps its stratospheric advantage over the competition (a lot of ifs!), then indeed any driver capable of throwing the grey stick over the finish line would be just as good. Heck, go for Gutierrez!

      If lead drivers are however integral to car development and can make a difference in the engineering department (e.g. Schumacher or Vettel, always getting what they needed from senior technical staff), then Hamilton’s value would be much much tougher to assess… If he is part of the reason (in Brawn’s words: “part of the solution”) that Merc maintains its dominance, then getting rid of him could wreck havoc and have similar ripple effects as it seems to have had on the McLaren for two years (and running).

      So as I suggested in the closing of the piece, whether post hoc ergo proctor hoc or not, it seems to me that the Wolff is playing with matches and that Hamilton could be much more valuable to the team than Wolff realizes. If the Wolff believes that maintaining their dominant advantage is impervious to senior personnel reshuffles, staff losses, and lead driver changes, he may be even more stuck in la-la land than we had previously assumed…

      • Well Hamilton does not seem to be much cop as a marketing tool. I have yet to see a Merc commercial with him. Mika Häkkinen, Kimi, David Coulthard, Schumi, Nico, Montoya – they all starred in sometimes hilarious commercials in Germany – Lewis was never mentioned. I think he was a private love interest of Lauda and Merc will not cry if he’s gone.

  6. “As for his salary demands, my feeling is that all these outrageously overpaid drivers are plain and simple daylight robbers.”

    Makes me wonder if teams told their sponsors “with us you don’t get to use our drivers for advertising, PR, meet and greets, photos etc., how many sponsors would stick around at their current rates…

  7. Looking at the article, it’s amazing what Alonso has done.

    I’m over the Lewis – Nico arguments

  8. #1. My apologies for hoping TJ gets a Streiff article. As I told someone on Twitter, much else going on in the world, let alone in sports, so I’ve taken time off from voraciously reading F1 happenings, actually, barely reading at all. I figured that on 2.1.2015 I’d start to take in everything possible to catch up and stay F1 current. As a result I missed the Streiff [forced] apology of last week which means there will likely be no more meaningful criticisms of the F1 godheads per Bianchi, etc.

    Alas, I was horribly wrong thinking I could prescribe a starting time for attempting to ingest all things F1… again, my apologies.

    #2 On landroni’s article: paltry, minus 1 for hyperbole and forgetting that the F1 driver’s perceived financial worth is relative to the driver’s importance to the team on and off track AND in comparison with salaries of global entertainers in other fields an informative article (I too feel the salaries are grossly over-inflated but they, sadly, are for all global-reaching sports figures).


    Plus 10(!) for digging deeper than most people into a statistical analysis between Rosberg and Hamilton. It would be easy – specious, too – to solely use a subjective measurement – “if you exclude Hungary and Germany” – to create a 9-7 race win (false closeness) advantage for Hamilton that ends up through a twist of logic to be, advantage Rosberg. Then by using sector and qualifying times to bolster an already pernicious “closeness” argument, one could, in ending, say, “It was purely by (insert subjective and negatively-charged statement(s) here) that Lewis Hamilton was gifted the 2014 WDC.”

    However, the “measurement” of proximity, in this case, “metrics,” and using metrics as an overreaching comparative tool relative to other top F1 drivers racing as teammates is a masterstroke in culling the vastness of available F1 statistical data for the correct statistics to provide readers with a measurement of event performance.

    Thanks landroni!

    mankster… In a 20-event stretch, 11 wins to five in ANY sport is an incredibly wide gulf between two competitors or teams. You’ll see 11-win teams in the NFL playoffs every season (I gather it’s the same for football – proper – leagues, as well) but you will never see five-win teams in the playoffs. Eleven wins to five, particularly when using the same equipment – car – is pure dominance, period. There is no “cherry-picking” about who rightfully held the WDC trophy at the end of the 2014 season.

    • “paltry, minus 1 for hyperbole”

      To quote Our Honor: “sometimes it is necessary to exaggerate the point – to make the point.”

      But other than this, I kinda like writing semi-exaggerated prose, poking left and right by means of caricature, probably because it is simply much more fun to do, and all considered TJ13 should be a fun endeavor. I know that academics have a penchant for barren, flat and emotionless writing; but I can assure you that for most humans out there this is nothing but death by boredom…

      “forgetting that the F1 driver’s perceived financial worth is relative to the driver’s importance to the team on and off track AND in comparison with salaries of global entertainers in other fields”

      Vortex Motio suggested something along these lines, and several comments above make an effort to address the points that you make. I mostly agree with what you say, and partly this has already been evoked here:


      Glad you enjoyed the piece!

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