Hamilton sends a warning to his Mercedes team


Lewis Hamilton had a less than cordial relationship with the team over the car radio during today’s Spanish GP. He was told he had to pass Vettel on track and retorted back, it was “not possible” and instructed the team to come up with “another plan.”

The team then informed Lewis he would be switched to a three stop race strategy, which was actually predicted to be quicker by the analysts. The risk of stopping more than other cars is the traffic a driver faces when he re-joins the track behind cars that haven’t stopped on the same cycle.

However, Lewis appeared irked by radio communications from the Mercedes pit wall while he was driving through the corners at the Curcuit de Catalunya. He instructed the team to desist from speaking to him when he was driving all sections of the track besides the straights.

Following his final pit stop, Hamilton was instructed by the team not to attempt chasing Rosberg down. “It looks like it maybe a big ask to do it. So probably best to consolidate your position,” Peter Bonnington advised Lewis with around 10 laps to go.”

Hamilton replied, “If you’re telling me it’s not possible – let me know.”

Bonnington responded, “Yes I don’t think it will be possible with the remaining laps Lewis, so probably better just looking after this one. Let him have it”.

A curt Lewis queried: “Is it impossible – that’s the question?”

Bonnington was categorical with his reply: “Yes it is. He’s going to respond if we pick the pace up. So I think we just need to consolidate the position. It will be impossible”.

When asked by SKY’s Natalie Pinkham about the instruction after the race, Lewis revealed, “Naturally I ignored that.

“It’s not nice for a driver to hear that. I’m here to race, not finish second”.

Hamilton was clear he believed the instruction had nothing to do with conserving the car’s resources, confirming, “I think the engine was fine.”

Lewis then issued a warning to the team, that he would not accept being told to hold station in the future: “It’s not something you wanna hear. So I will be making sure – definitely – that is not said again”.

Mercedes have repeatedly stated that their primary concern is for both their drivers to bring the cars home guaranteeing the best result for the team. Further, Toto Wolff confirmed following the tensions during the Chinese GP this year, that Lewis primary role was to deliver the best result for the team.

Whether Lewis will find himself in conflict with the Mercedes hierarchy following his latest refusal to comply with the team’s wishes – only time will tell.

63 responses to “Hamilton sends a warning to his Mercedes team

  1. I am divided on this one. I can see Lewis frustration as an out and out racer and I can see the MB’S view that the chase was futile. Had there been 20 laps to go then go for it but there was not enough laps left in the race and the difference was too much.

    This is something they need to sort out internally

    • I don’t think there is any division. Furthermore, the Judge’s angle on this story is not only wrong, but absurd.

      The conflict is essentially a communication issue. The race engineers saw that Nico had more than enough race pace to prevent Lewis from being able to catch and pass him.

      The error on the team side is how they worded that information. It came across as ‘don’t’ or ‘don’t bother’, vs why.

      On the team’s side, there isn’t a conflict either, beyond learning how to better communicate. Smart team managers / directors want their drivers to have this attitude, that they have the ability to overcome all obstacles. Certainly Lauda sees this attitude in both of his drivers and wouldn’t want it any other way.

      Please forgive my candor, Judge, which is offered with respect. But this article is fairly wide of the mark. As is the little Gene Haas article published a few hours ago. Both articles are sensationalist, misleading, and disappointing.

      • There is a coded protocol type language used in pit to car radio. Bonnington used this initially – Hamilton questioned it – To be crystal clear, Bonnington then reverted to Hamilton’s own terminology “impossible” – not once but twice – to convey the instruction – repetition on team radio is also used to convey the emphatic.

        Further, “Let him have it” is pretty direct and clear.

        So were Hamilton to subsequently have an engine failure in Monaco – the team will most definitely refer Lewis to this event. It’s a fail from Lewis to put himself in this position of potential weakness when the chase was in fact “impossible”.

        The point of the Haas article was simple. The team principal and owner are not saying the same things. They need to get their PR act together, because if they don’t – there will be a field day when the media spotlight is really turned on.

        Particularly as Gene knows little about F1 but Steiner does.

        • The point of the Haas was simple, and wrong. Haas and Steiner said the same thing, as the full quote that I shared in the comments section there clearly demonstrates.

          Correct on the protocol, but like the cars themselves, the communication protocol between driver and team is constantly adjusted and improved. It will be part of the debriefs, and preparations for the next race as well.

          Looking through the laptimes, one can see that Lewis didn’t abuse the car when he was having this dialogue.

          This is status normal in an F1 team.

          There is no need to make a weird soap opera where one doesn’t in fact exist.

          • Steiner had said the drivers would be signed and announced by August/September – That is not what Haas said.

            There’s no drama – other than the usual interesting tensions between Hamilton and his teams which are well documented.

            Lewis publicly stated he ignored the call from the team – whether he ‘abused’ the car or not is irrelevant.

          • But why do you label it as tension?

            Was it any different to what we’ve heard from Nico, Kimi, Seb, Alonso etc?

          • You cite one occasion where a driver has stated to the press – he will no longer accept an instruction from the team.

          • Lewis seems to have form on this. There is always a lot more going on in the background than we know and I suspect they want to keep the current engines going as long as possible to make the most of any upgrades. Pushing in the way he needed to to even catch Nico would put unnecessary strain on the engine and considering how he’d failed to get past Seb in a slower car I can’t see how he would have any chance against Nico.

            Maybe this is one thing against the engine-limited formula we have – it is not worth pushing like this at the end of a race as it has an impact further down the line and means we don’t have the spectacle of a leading driver being hunted down. Who doesn’t still remember Perez vs Alonso for example?

            Mind you, what Merc seem to have planned – if the Sky team were on the mark – is quite impressive. Getting all cars to at least round 7 on the first engine meaning they can bring the upgrades in without it costing more engines is quite an impressive feat of engineering.

      • Agree fully. As all F1 fans could see. LH tried his best but it was impossible in the end.

        If LH wants to try in case NR slips off the track and loses 10 seconds, that’s perfectly valid.

        Easy for punters to find flaws
        with the benefit of hindsight.

        • Hmmm, didn’t Seb ignore orders- “Multi 21,” I believe – then, post-race flaunt the fact that he did for the world to see?! Perhaps the manner in which he did exactly the same thing made it somehow acceptable (sarcasm).

          • Perhaps I’m missing something but the team did not say don’t race Nico. They said look after your car/tyres.

            Imagine the outrage if Hamilton’s brakes failed (happened before with Merc) or tyres fell off cliff (happened before) and he got caught and passed by Vettel.

            Hamilton races to win, for himself to win. Mercedes have always said team first. If Hamilton always put his own interests above that of the team how long before he runs out of teams willing to put up with that behaviour?

  2. Yh, the text feed I saw mentioned the “impossible” pass on Seb and the desire to pursue an impossible pass on Nico.

    Initially thought it spoke more to the mindset that Lewis has towards Nico than anything else. But then I wondered why a self-professed “racer” would give up on getting by an obviously inferior car.

    Lewis had an off weekend methinks.

  3. Saying “let him have it” suggests there was the possibility catch Rosberg , but that Lewis should not pursue it, he should just give it up. Lewis does not give up if there is a sniff of a win. Had there been a genuine risk to the engine, problem with the brakes etc , that is what should have been conveyed to Lewis. Not , “it looks like a big ask” , and ” I don’t think it will be possible” or “probably best to consolidate your position” . lewis doesn’t need imprecise subjective comments like that he’s in a race. Is this the same race engineer that told Lewis to back of last year to save his tyres and attack near the end of the race? Luckily Lewis ignored him that time as well, overtook Risberg and won.

    • Hi @Racechick You may not have been here in 2013, but we covered some of this ground around multi-21.

      Team’s are using coded language so as not to appear to be giving a direct instruction. Part of the reason is so the media can’t jump all over them – it gives them an out if pressed – but it is agreed behind the scenes that the drivers understand these protocols. Whether rightly or wrongly.

      The fact that Bonnington continued to engage with Hamilton and as I previously suggested repeated twice Lewis’ own term – “impossible” was significant.

      Lewis also conceded the final word on the matter too.

      I prefer the Ross Brawn approach – ‘Negative Nico – do you understand?’

      • And what was Nico’s comment to Ross at the end of the race? Or are we forgetting that?

        • “Remember this one.”

          And Rosberg explained his comment to the BBC later – that he was confirming this principle would be applied in his favour were the roles reversed.

          “That’s the way it is. It would be the same way if I was in front. I know that”.

          • God you trolls. This is the best f1 website. Quick interesting info. No bs like joe s website.

            I hate the people who feel if they pour over all the sites info feel like they are in the paddock. It’s too much. Appreciate the quality that the judge brings. First post by the way cause I’m so irritated and have been reading since 2012

          • Good to hear from you @Ddayley

            All I ask for is that people engage properly with what’s written – without resorting to “this is the daily mail” – and if that’s what they think – fine if they take the time to present a proper argument.

            Our content is not just “he said/she said” – context and opinion is offered. It’s really irritating when people just toss off an article that’s taken someone a fair amount of time to write – but as you say – these people are trolls.

            Well the ‘delete comment’ button will be used more widely for a while in an attempt to improve the interaction in the comments section – and hopefully decent commentators will be attracted and not frightened away.

          • Edit . And I live in Idaho !!!!! I’m the most unbiased person ever

      • I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that most of the people defending Lewis for being a racer, ignoring team orders and not handing a win to his teammate condemned Vettel for his pass on Webber in Malaysia in 2013.

        • But was it a team order or just like we heard in Monza last year, a suggestion by Peter Bonnington?

          • He said Nico has pace in hand and if you push he will respond. Preserve your tyres and engine.

            But tell you what. I hope Lewis sticks it up to the team every time they tell him what to do. Or even better, when Lewis ask them for information just say, “sorry mate, we don’t know, you decide”.

      • So you’re saying this wasn’t PB suggesting Lewis give up the chase because it might not be worth the effort, it was PB giving Lewis a coded order not to chase down and challenge Nico? This despite The fact it was a long shot to catch Nico anyway and despite the fact that Mercedes have stated on numerous occasions that the boys are free to race. Do you think Mercedes are telling lies about this then?

  4. Am I the only one hoping that Lewis has an “engine malfunction” in Monaco? It’s ok if I am.

    • Clearly no, given that so far 8 people gave you the thumbs up.

      Where I’m from, we’ve got a saying….

      “Never wish bad on people”…

      So you see that malfunction that you hope happens, could lead to someone ending up in a hospital or the morgue.


  5. Hmmmm. That contract is not signed yet…..Wonder if it’s still on offer….Just thinking out loud..

      • Lewis said contract is done. Toto said contract is done. Lauda said contract is done… someone is telling porkies :p

        Not sure what paragraph or two he could want to add? If he is not careful he will be watching F1 with the rest of us next year. He’s good but not great and with all the baggage that he comes with I wonder how long it will be before teams just go.. nada, we don’t need that sh!t.

        • Oh please, if teams can put up with a cheating conniving blackmailer like Alonso, then surely Lewis will be in demand. Lewis is a choirboy compared to him.

          F1 would be a boring place without him and we all know it, no matter how anyone tries to deny it.

          • Well Alonso got the boot from Ferrari… and McLaren.. well they may be wishing they never signed him. I think Ron was *influenced* to sign a big name by Honda..

    • He’s an amazing talent for sure … but with so many other very capable drivers, I wouldn’t want to put up with his attitude/ego. His double speak is tiresome and his off-track distractions continue to take his focus away from where it should be during the season.

      • 3 wins 2 second places and leading the championship. I’m not sure how you can state that off track activities are taking his focus away from where it should be.

        • … You really don’t get it do you. Lewis does in fact walk on water for you… his blog was a PR disaster – and whether you like it or not – that matters in F1 – and he has been criticised all week end up and down the paddock – proving again his critics to be right about his attitude.

          Lewis expects ‘perfection’ from the team – in the pit stop in perfecting his start procedures for him – don’t you think the team will point out at least their errors were not from ‘lack of focus.’

          As alluded to in the Hill article, Hamilton gives the impression he had given up on this weekend before he began – hardly what the team want to see.

          • So errors did he make that were due to ‘lack of focus’?

            Lewis expects perfection from both the team and himself as do every single driver on the grid.

            You said he was criticised all weekend up and down the grid, can you elaborate further as to who those critics were? Because I followed the entire race weekend closely like I always do and all the focus was on Nico and what he needed to do.

          • Judge again….

            4 poles, 3 wins and 2 second places makes that statement about lack of commitment and being distracted by off field distraction ludicrous at best.

            Every driver expects perfection from themselves as well as the team. But it’s quite telling that he had 2 poor pitstops and he said nothing other than, “please can we get the other one right”

            Why did you questioned Nico’s comments in China when he blamed the team for sending him out with what he perceived to be little time left to get his last lap in Q3 and thus forcing him to not prepare properly for the lap? Why was there no mention of his comments about the poor pitstops he had in I think it was Bahrain? See that’s where my problem is with you at times, you choose to go through all things Hamilton with a fine tooth comb whilst ignoring others who do the exact same thing. Yesterday Kimi continually used some very expletive languages over the radio in relation to back markers, but I guess that’s Kimi being Kimi and that’s acceptable behaviour.

            There’s absolutely nothing in the article that alludes to him giving up on the weekend, if anything it proved how determined he was to get the win, that despite being down 20 seconds to his team mate, he was still thinking of trying to get the win. Had he just accepted defeat, then surely your claim to him ‘giving up on the weekend before it started’ would be valid.

          • You say his blog was a PR disaster.
            You do know that Lewis’s blog is written by Andrew Benson, who is not known exactly to be a Lewis fan. In fact Benson used to write much like thejudge13 on matters involving Hamilton.
            Last week’s BBC blog has Benson’s barbed tongue written all through it. Granted that Lewis or his staff look it over and approve it for publication.

          • Was very badly written that don’t you think – the BBC piece. If I was Lewis I’d not speak to them or give ‘my staff’ a bit of a kicking. I would expect perfection from them too, not just Mercedes and myself.

            And to be fair to Benson, the guy gets a kicking no matter what he writes. I was reading his stuff before TJ13 came along and my it was full of trolls and just bad people. Problem with the internet is that a lot of people are very brave so they will really have a dig at people in comments. I have yet to see the person that talks to others like that in real life without getting their ears pinned back 🙂

          • Clearly, there is a double standard, but that comes with the territory of being the box office draw in F1. Imagine if it was Lewis having the post-race meltdown in China that Rosberg had? Every story would be jacked up just that little bit more, simply because it’s Hamilton.

            Lewis shouldn’t have said many of the things he said. Even if many of the things he said were factual, you simply do not gain anything by pointing it out.

            I think the lack of focus angle is low-lying fruit … it’s an easy angle to take. Lewis got a bad start … the win started slipping away right from that point. At the first pit stop, there was still a chance, but then the slow change of the left-rear put paid to any chance of victory. It sure would’ve been interesting to see Lewis and Nico go head-to-head on the harder tires … I think Lewis has an advantage on them (need more data though). Likely the nature of the track would’ve scuppered any chance of an overtake though.

            Up next is Monaco … Lewis will want that one badly, because of last year. Also to erase the absolute oddity that is the fact that he’s never scored pole there, and also because it’s been a helluva long time since he last won there. Let’s see how unfocused he is there.

          • …I don’t think people realise this is not 2014. The aero and tyres are making it far more difficult to pass this year. Lewis has been ahead all season – so the low hanging fruit of Rosberg being crap at passing has been the stereotypical answer.

            Hamilton never had a prayer of overtaking Rosberg in Barcelona – he couldn’t pass a Ferrari which ended up 45 seconds behind the winner.

            This is not a slight on Lewis – but the 2014 tyre/aero issue has been something which has been repeatedly pointed out here when Rosberg was behind, particularly in China.

            Plus in relation to the post race in China, Rosberg’s problem was with Hamilton post China – he doesn’t suggest the team are lying to the stewards as did Hamilton Monaco 2014. There are no coded warnings to the team, or excuses for poor performance by blaming the team.

          • Uh, Nico’s “c’mon guys!” after missing out on pole in China was totally aimed at the team, blaming them. Nico being curt with Tony Ross has been another theme in the past 3 races, to the extent that Ross started giving some back in FP2 in Spain (“Headwind into TURN 9, dumbass!” – he didn’t say the last word, but it was as close to being implied by his tone, as one can get).

            The thing is all that stuff from Nico gets waved away or forgotten, because ultimately no one really cares about what’s going on with Nico.

  6. I’m pretty surprised by the comments from Lewis. He was far from magnanimous in defeat.

    You’d think with such an advantage already in the title fight that he’d have settled for second place and driven the car back safely. The reasons to take this approach far outweigh those not to, notably, a safety car would have meant if he was cursing he’d have fuel/tyres left to attack Nico and perhaps more pertinently in the case of Hamilton I look back at the race in Monza where he was chasing someone (Button perhaps?) he wasn’t going to catch and binned it.

    Add in his comments about the team making life difficult for him and it was far from a vintage weekend for Lewis. It’s those sorts of comment that make him such a divisive figure in F1.

    I’ve got my fingers crossed the Rosberg camp can put some more pressure on in Monaco and create a bit of a fight, if only for a few races!

  7. He did comply? He in no way disobeyed what Merc instructed him to do, and in any case, there was nothing he could do and nothing he can do to stop this in the future. If he i snot quick enough to be 1st then he deserves to finish 2nd so there’s nothing wrong with this result and Merc did not hold anyone back. OK, maybe the pitstops didn’t help Lewis but he was just not as quick as Rosberg this weekend, and shouldn’t blame his team.

  8. I’m not too sure it’s a warning from Hamilton after all what can he do to the team except ignore the advice but it makes for good reading.

  9. I thought we were discussing Peter Bonnington’s suggestion to Hamilton that he give up trying to catch Rosberg, and Hamilton’s questioning of this? Yet we have moved swiftly on to analysing Hamilton’s lifestyle and commenting on how it is apparently distracting him from his driving. What evidence is there that Hamilton is being distracted from his driving? Over the 2014 and beginning of the 2015 season, he’s won fourteen races, his team mate only three; this would suggest to me that it’s the team mate that is distracted, not Hamilton. Rosberg would have every reason to be distracted, he’s recently married, he’s expecting a baby, and his young wife has been unwell, yet it is Hamilton that is singled out as the one being distracted, despite no evidence. Perhaps the reason is a misunderstanding of Hamilton, or a disapproval or dislike of him and how he conducts his life, whilst Rosberg is approved of.
    Mercedes pay Hamilton and Rosberg to drive cars very, very quickly and to win races, and that’s what we should be judging them on, not on whether we approve of their leisure pursuits. And on that basis Hamilton is comparable only with the very best.

    • Turns out Bonnington was right! It was impossible as Hamilton demonstrated. He pushed and couldn’t catch Rosberg.

      I find it hard to believe that you are comparing Rosberg’s family life which is obviously very fulfilling at the moment, something he can draw energy and confidence from versus three weeks of non-stop globetrotting, partying and late nights that would do nothing but numb the mind and empty the soul. An absolutely bizarre position for you to take actually.

      And yes Merc is paying these guys to race but that also means finishing races and bringing home the points to win the championships. In fact it might have been a good lesson had Hamilton’s engine failed during his futile attempt against team advice. A learning experience.

  10. The highs and low of supporting Hamilton.

    Spain was one of the lows as “Bling-Bling I’m a superstar” showed up instead of the actual racer named Lewis Hamilton. I hope this latest kick up the back-side will bring the Lewis Hamilton I want to see back for the next GP. About time he actually delivered in Monaco too, unless Rosberg pulls off another one of his yellow-flag stunts in qualifying haha

  11. Having thought long and hard about The Whereabouts of Lewis before the Spain GP I finally came to the conclusion that trotting a good ways around our Earth to attend a boxing event was two things: 1) James Huntian move that, in those debauched days of yore, would have been heralded as an example of an F1 driver’s playboy lifestyle. In fact, a move like Hamilton’s might well have earned him a cover note on the next issue of Playboy! But, 2) since it’s 2015 and the world and its people’s are far more prone to open cynicism rather than prolonged athlete glorification, the fight trip was a bad move. With commitments to a Daimler advert AND having to spend taxing hours on a movie set, Lewis should’ve packed his bro a healthy meal of wine, women and song and sent Nic in his stead, providing he produce a full report on his travels upon his return home.

    There is no way that, short of winning the Spain GP, flying into Barcelona not that long before the events of Catalunya commenced after three weeks of not F1-related activities, could Hamilton escape derision from his detractors – and at least eyebrow raising from the “fosi.”

    In 1978 Lewis’ jaunts might just be, today, the subject of a fond tj13, “look back in time” post. However, it’s 2015 and with his ample driving abilities and the tools Hamilton has at his disposal, less than stellar practice and qualifying days combined with a not-at-all inspiring race day performance equal criticism from all corners. And though I’m not a fan of Damon Hill, I do fully get his barb throwing. Hill wasn’t as talented as is Lewis and would’ve given his eye teeth to have spent a prolonged period in cars as dominant as those in which Hamilton is driving.

    Hopefully, there aren’t too many yes men and women in the background enabling Hamilton to remain indignant about his pre-Catalunya doings. Hopefully, he’s realized the error of his ways. If not his WDC lead will shrink faster than we can say, “Nico Rosberg.”

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