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.