Mercedes sandbagging in 2016

In perhaps a misguided attempt to quell the rumor of favoritism within the garage at Mercedes, their press release admits that Nico put in his fastest lap whilst on a ‘safe’ lower engine mode.

Consider that Massa pitted for fresh rubber with just a small portion of laps left in the race and still couldn’t wrestle fastest lap away despite Nico being on old tyres.

Copy of Mercedes letter is below.


To the fans,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Together, #WeAreW07
Together, #WeAreTheSilverArrows

– See more at:


31 responses to “Mercedes sandbagging in 2016

  1. I found the text of the letter too light for my eyes, and had to increase the size about 4x to read it. Admittedly, mine eyes be old. I’d appreciate a different color for the text.

  2. I think the outcry from the fans is two-fold:

    (i) Lewis is a better driver and far more popular

    (ii) In 2014, unreliability cost both drivers almost equally, maybe slightly more for Lewis. In 2015, again unreliability cost both almost the same, maybe slightly more for Nico. But this year, it’s 4 races in a row that unreliability hits only one of the garages. If those 4 cases were spread over 12 races and Nico had been hit by issues maybe once, I’m sure there wouldn’t be this reaction we see now.

    • I just tweeted a very interesting stat, I wasn’t sure at first, but did my checking.

      Did you know Rosberg has taken part in every single qualifying session since the start of 2014 to present and his lowest grid slot was 6th in Singapore last year. In fact the last time he missed Q3, was the 2013 US GP and that wasn’t due to reliability but I believed him getting caught out with the weather conditions.

      Talk about reliability….😉😉😉

    • He’s only been hit by unreliability in 2. Aus and Bahrain were just racing incidents. Hamilton being outmuscled by Rosberg in T1 in Aus and in Bah lost off the line again to Ros, and was unfortunate with, but also caught unawares by Bottas. Also, qualifying unreliability is one thing, but having it in the races is where it truly hurts these two. Even from 10th or 22nd, either will presumably make their way up to 2/3rd by race’s end. Are the Ferrari’s good enough to hinder them? Not sure.

  3. LOOOONG posting here because it is a good place for an open discussion of the long standing tit-for-tat between Hamilton fans, and those who are not. Me? I’m a Hamilton fan, and don’t mind admitting I think he is a class of driver above Rosberg. I’ve not replied here for ages, but the letter is fascinating. A few points…

    – What is feeding the conspiracies is the unlikely set of events around the current failures. Two different engines fail on the same car/driver combo within two races? When I heard about the Q2 failure I thought “why then use the same bloody engine!”, but when it was confirmed it was a different engine. The point is not sabotage or anything on purpose, but what if the change of mechanics has slightly destabilised working conditions or relationships, and so mistakes are made? Favoring one side does not have to be a very obvious or conscious…

    – The water pressure thing still sounds inconsistent, at best. HAM is told it stabilized, yet today the letter says it was zero, didn’t change, and he did an amazing job somehow getting it to the end. So, it ‘stabilized’ because it was never above (more or less) zero?! Or, putting together what was said during the race, after the race, and now in this letter we get…it was a major problem, HAM was asked to drive more cautiously, it stabilized…but was also zero all the time and they have no idea how he got to the end. Does this mean the engine would definitely fail if he drove faster? How would they know? If it HAD failed (say on the second last lap) would they say HAM should have driven even more slowly to try and salvage points? So, why not give that instruction? Is this letter really saying that the car had a potentially terminal failure, and the only (vague) instruction they gave the drive was ‘take it easier, but too easy’. Which in reality was a pace not fast enough to threaten Rosberg, but enough to stay head of RAI, yet still with no idea how he did it, get the car to the end. It all seems a bit…convenient.

    – What I find hardest to believe is the idea ROS had an engine problem. ROS never mentioned it in interviews immediately after the race (he did later on when he had time to speak to Merc pr first), and surely he would be bound to want to point out he set such a fast lap on the ‘safe’ setting? If HAM is sat there saying “I could have won…had the pace” surely there is some decent psychology in saying back to him “er, no mate, because I had to drive slower with my own problem and STILL put those laps in”. Next, there are no radio message being reported on this from the FOM/FIA. Why show the messages to HAM (during the broadcast, and afterwards) but not the ones to ROS? I mean, we needed some drama, yet it is kept hidden that Merc told the lead driver they were worried about is engine that he should back off a bit. Why no evidence of that message, bar Mercs own words? That’s what confuses me.

    – One of the things I do in my job is write about politics. Really! And one thing about politics is that unless you have something to hide you do not publicly, in detail, ‘refute’ nonsense conspiracies. It looks defensive. Especially when that defense reveals new info! Wolf’s first response “these people are idiots” IS how you should respond (quick, no details). But this letter does seem very defensive, and a bit ‘one doth protest too much’. Which, leads me to think…

    1. There are some operational errors, NOT a conspiracy. So, Merc now knows someone has not done their job properly (possibly someone(s) with a grudge against HAM, given HAM’steam beat their side of the garage two years running?). This would not be a conspiracy! But, it would also be someone Merc would not want anyone know, a) cos it would devalue ROS performance, and B) questions Merc’s management.

    2. Hamilton has complained behind the scenes, and they want to make sure he doesn’t kick off publicly (this letter is “getting the tackle in first”). I tend to think this because of the OTT detail about ROS engine. Plus, it should be remembered, one of the things that made HAM fall out at McLaren was the poor reliability in his last season.

    3. Whether folks like it or not, Marc has more fans because of Hamilton, so, they need to placate those fans.

    Whatever, what I also wonder is…

    4. Is this letter now going to mean they (subconsciously?) favour Hamilton?! Surely now Merc can’t risk any suspicion of problems or inequality on Hamilton’s car? If Hamilton has tech problems again, then it really looks silly.

    In the end what everyone misses about those in tinfoil hats who like their conspiracies is that many are nonsense, but some ARE true. And more than that, it might not be conspiracy, but it can be incompetence.

    • Just like in traffic. A lot of ‘agressive’ manouvres on the highway are just a consequence of incompetence. I have this friend going mental each time and when he looks who’s in the offending car’s driver seat it’s always an old lady.

      Still. I agree with most you wrote. Some additions: in the years Kimi should’ve been champion at least once and maybe twice, his McLaren broke down a lot. Driving style might be a factor.

      The waterpressure really is the thing that needs explaining. I hope F1technical or scarbs will post an article about it. They might be able to explain why you can finish a race with 0 pressure. And how much of a ‘save mode’ is needed to perform ‘a miracle’.

    • Good post, loooong but decent opinion. Would be a good article in itself.

      ……. You’re Hired ……..!!

    • I was thinking along the same lines myself. Plus Toto wasn’t there for a lot of the weekend, which is unusual. By the way, why would you swap mechanics like that, when everything was running smoothly before? Only needs one person with a grudge to sabotage a car. I also thought it strange that as soon as Hamilton was reeling Rosberg in his engine suddenly developed a water pressure problem. Although not such a problem that he couldnt finish the race, even though it was said to be zero pressure. How is that even possible? Surely they could save a lot of weight by removing that system, and run even faster! 😛

    • Cracking post Mr Rodwell. I was saying only a couple of weeks ago that I don’t trust Mercedes, and how it feels like the moment either car has the most minor of issues they claim it was a huge problem and lost them oodles of lap time. Years of watching F1 says that’s not normally the case.

      Whilst I think Toto is very smart, I also think that the information they provide the media (who suck it all up hook, line and sinker, especially Sky F1) is similarly skewed to try and keep their fans happy. Had Lewis’ or Nico’s car had the same impact that Ricciardos took in Russia we’d get a sob story from Mercedes about how it broke X vital component and it was a miracle it got to the end.

      It’s very very hard to trust Mercedes. Whilst some only see that now with recent issues for Lewis, I assure TJ13 this is something those of us who favour neither Mercedes driver have seen for a long while. Whilst Red Bull aren’t a fans favourite, I certainly feel they’re a damn sight more honest than Mercedes.

    • @ J Rodwell.

      The boiling point of water @ 1 bar (atmospheric pressure) is 100°C. F1 rules limit engine water pressure to 3.75 bar maximum; at that pressure the boiling point is about 141°C. When Mercedes say ‘zero’ pressure they mean zero pressure above atmospheric. If there is a pressure leak the pressure can’t get above ‘zero’, which is actually 1 bar. This means that if the engine is run hard enough that waste heat can’t be removed at less than 100°C the engine will get fried, as all the water will evaporate. By backing off it seems Lewis was able to keep the temperature down enough to finish. Bottom line, ‘zero’ pressure does make sense. I don’t address the boiling point of other radiator liquids, but the theory is the same.

  4. I think some people need to stop under-estimating Nicos ability and renewed determination to beat Hamilton in a straight fight. Nico has always been a gentleman racer, a driver that was not prepared to overstep the line and cause an accident or points loss for his team, whereas Hamilton loves to boast about how he “only drives to win” and all that bs! Hamilton has had many crashes with other drivers over the last 9 years, and he will probably have a few more before he retires. It look now as if Rosberg has had enough of Hamiltons bull5hit and wont stand for it any longer. If Mercchumps really were holding back Hamilton, it would only be in the interest of the team to avoid any ontrack conflict between the pair of them. I dont think Rosberg will compromise so easily with Hamilton anymore as he has obviously made clear to the team!

    • Sadly they’ve not raced each other so far this season, so we really don’t know if Rosberg has “raised his game”

      But there it is, good old blue collar Nico Rosberg, the team player, the man who’d never step out of line, up against the hoodlum that is Lewis Hamilton.

      But out of curiosity, how does one saying, “I only drive to win”, is BS? Is that not what their aim is, to win?

      I sense a lot of anger and hostility in that message,…..

  5. It’s really quite silly, chaps. I mean, really. What benefit would a conspiracy grant the Merc Helm? The switch of engineers hardly has a part to play, I’m sure engineers are swapped between teams quite often and it’s not brought up. Regardless, it’s entirely conjecture. The worst part, is that no matter what happens, the side of British media and it’s retinue of fans will always deride the success Nico achieves and play it off as some lucky benefit of Lewis’s misfortune. A single race even is poured over in detail to exam every possible circumstance which may have determined (seemingly through pure luck) Nico’s supposedly ‘REMARKABLE’ success. Other way around, nee. Lewis was simply in a different class! Simply put, they are both in the same ‘class’. There is hardly a fraction between them, and usually what determines their respective finishing positions is how well they get off the line. Lewis won most of the races between them since 2013 (17-22) because he led (lead?!) into T1. Wasn’t Rosberg getting poorer starts than Lewis most of 2014 and costing him a number of potential victories? That was never a ‘luck’ situation. Hamilton was just… In a class of his own, finishing a second or two ahead after 60 laps… Ultimately I’m just really saddened to see that Nico never gets the credit he deserves. 17-22? If that isn’t close, against a guy as fast as Hami-wammi, well… Qualifying too is incredibly close – I think it’s +3 favouring Hamilton over 3+ years. Anyway, it’s all a SOAP in the end of the…

  6. Jeez, I didn’t think too much.about the reliability differential between Lewis and Nico but NOW, after that baffling, extraordinary effort from MB management, I feel the bard making his presence felt again..

    Methinks they complain too much.

    Translated for the kids: Guilty much?

    If there was even the merest hint of smoke before it’s billowing out now. This is what happens when you let tecnical guys near the soft elements of business.

    I’ve taken the liberty of producing a revised version of the letter to fans. The one they should have sent:

    To the fans

    Your b!tching and whining is hurting our ears. Stop it, you ungrateful, ignorant dweebs!

    Here’s a grab bag of phrases to explain the reliability differential between Lewis and Nico:

    Life ain’t fair. Get over it. Shit happens. “Deserve” has nothing to do with it. Suck it up. Chance is lumpier than you’d expect. Deal with it. Because statistics.

    Take your pick then go soak your head.

    You disgust me.

    Love (not)


    • +1 Roger – particularly “Life ain’t fair. Get over it. Shit happens. “Deserve” has nothing to do with it. Suck it up. Chance is lumpier than you’d expect. Deal with it. Because statistics.”

    • The letter was obviously produced as they have the BestFans according to their twitter hashtags.

      Merc have sandbagged for the past few years, they know if they showed their real speed the FIA & Bernie would be desperate to ban something on their car to bring them back in line and increase competition. It’s a bloody clever ploy. Toto is a smart cookie, no doubt about it.

  7. Whip my other post languishes in moderation, presumably on the grounds of potty-mouth…

    Addressing the headline of the article, MB’s dominance is an indictment of the sport. A total embarassment.

    They ought to be run out of town for bringing the sport into disrepute.

    I’m a fan of the sport long before I’m a fan of any particular team or driver and right now the sport is dying. In fact it’s being beaten into a bloody pulp by a well-dresses gentleman wielding a massive bill-cold held nearly in place by a classy titanium money clip emblazoned with a three-pointed star. There’s a guy in the background watching on in a FIA polo shirt saying “There’s nothing we can do, the rules allow it”.


  8. The worst thing about this letter and all the drivel accompanying it is that Mercedes are enjoying a surge in sales of their cars (+14% in 2015) and if they think their success in F1 and its media coverage is even partly responsible, they will continue this assault on our intelligence for the foreseeable future.

    Perhaps an open letter back to Merc…
    Dear Mercedes,
    F1 fans

    • You might be waiting for sometime….. Hope you’ve got an ample supply of RedBull on hand.. 🙂

  9. The Mercedes formula one team problem is they have very few if any of what is called loyal “merfosi” elsewhere known as “tifosi”, the first loyalty of their followers is to only one of their drivers and not to the team, this is something that is fuelled constantly non-stop by the famous British formula one media. Mclaren went through all this before them.
    The hamfosi way of reasoning is, Mercedes the team is the best, unbeatable and great, but only as far as the driver they support is winning.
    On the other hand assuming that this “team letter” to what they call their fans/followers is a joint effort of the three stooges managing the team, it only portrays them as a bunch of pussies, just imagine FERRARI coming out with such banal technical excuses to massage the ego of one of their drivers.

  10. Mercedes sandbagging.. definitely yes, F1 should return to normally aspirated engines, problem solved!

    • “Mercedes sandbagging” what is sure is, Mercedes are tripping by putting their feet in their mouth when they open it to talk.

  11. According to Mercedes a miracle happened in Sochi, actually 2 not one, it might be that the hotel their drivers stayed in had the shower water equivalent to that of the grotto of massiebelle.
    Miracle number one happened when their car 44 was nursed for 12 laps with zero-yes, zero-cooling water pressure, and not even at atmospheric pressure of 1 bar at which water boils at 100 degrees C, this when their engine is designed to run a cooling water system with a boiling point of 150 degrees C at a pressure of 3.75 bar.
    The second miracle happened when Nico while nursing his car on safety mode settings attained his fastest lap.

    • No miracles, just a broken water pressure sensor and Nico showing what we already knew, Mercedes have upwards of a second a lap in hand, but chose to run conservative engine settings so their power units last 7+ race weekends..

  12. there is no way on God’s green earth that a formula one power unit will run for 12 laps at ZERO cooling water pressure.
    That the car ran for 12 laps at ZERO cooling water pressure is what Mercedes said, not only that, but they declared it a miracle, Well obviously they were addressing their hamfosi and nobody else.

    • It’s as if you read the letter and then arbitrarily decided everything in it is for Lewis when it’s pretty apparent from Toto’s post-race, “Nico had the same problem,” lie to now, that this is meant to make Nico look good while explaining why they told Lewis to back off (hmmmm, “back off,” where did we hear that being told to Lewis late last season when he was eating up Nico’s lead? Oh yeah…).

  13. since the start of the new power unit formula the three stooges has been assuring everybody and his dog that they are the team that lets their drivers race, when in fact they are lairs, once they have a hint of them securing a one/two they comes up with all this BS, there is nobody in a better position to attest for this then their number 44 driver, first because he is himself is a certified lair and secondly he was the biggest benefactor of their actions. this time they came out with a miracle, next time they might ordain one or both of their drivers as saints.

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