Sport360° readers predict which Mercedes man will be champion

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Rivals: Nobody would think that Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton are team mates after yesterday's Grand Prix.

In our poll yesterday, we asked Sport360° readers who they thought would win the F1 Championship between Mercedes'  Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, who are racing away from the others on the leaderboard.

Subsequently, 60% of the Sport360° readers thinks Hamilton will overtake Rosberg on the standings and win the F1 championship.

Hamilton proved his class in the Hungary GP yesterday when he finished in third place after starting from the pit lane and spinning on his opening lap. 

Rosberg could only a managed a fourth place finish after Hamilton wouldn't obey Mercedes instructions to let the leader overtake him. 

Hamilton needs Rosberg to keep on finishing further down the pecking order leading up to the final event at Abu-Dhabi, which is worth double points.

As the similar poll result suggests, this could go down to the wire and be one of the best Formula 1's in history.

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Sport360° view: Mercedes were wrong to order Hamilton to let Rosberg through

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When asked if yesterday’s stunning drive from pit lane to podium was one of his best ever performances Lewis Hamilton merely shrugged it off with the answer: “I don’t think so.”

Some might disagree with him after what was an amazing recovery from yet another qualifying disaster, but his reply was not that surprising considering what had happened in the race.

If he had won, and at one stage that was a real possibility, then his answer may well have been “yes”, particularly as he had written off his chances after his car caught fire during qualifying on Saturday, wrecking his chances of seizing the initiative with pole position.

Nobody has ever won a Formula One race after starting from the pit lane, so to take third and more importantly finish ahead of his team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg, who finished fourth after starting on pole, was certainly a performance to be proud of.

It was yet another example of the British driver’s supreme talent, mature judgement, and determination in the face of seemingly impossible odds. This is why I found it astonishing and, in my opinion, totally wrong for Mercedes to ask him to move over on lap 51 and let his team-mate and championship leader Nico Rosberg through into third place because he was on a different strategy and faster tyres.

At that time the German was not in a position to overtake and Hamilton was attempting to get past Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and win the race. 

Anybody watching the race could see that to let Rosberg through, Hamilton would have had to lift off at a time when he simply could not afford to lose a fraction of a second.

He clearly, and quite rightly, decided to ignored team orders, despite the whingeing of his team-mate on the car to pit radio as to why he was not being allowed through. 

Hamilton did respond to  the team’s request to move over by saying he would let Rosberg through if he was close enough but refused to slow down. With a world title at stake, why should he?

Rosberg never got anywhere near close enough to justify a wave through so the British driver continued to push, and although he did not win the race, third place was vitally important, reducing the gap to Rosberg to just 11 points with eight races left.

But while Hamilton can claim a triumph of sorts, you have to wonder what the effect of being told to move over in those circumstances will have on the star’s relationship with the team, who last night said they would hold an internal inquiry into the incident.  

Surely, he is going to question where the team’s loyalties lie. Do both drivers have equal status or not?

Yesterday’s grand prix was a sensational race with all the drama and excitement that makes this sport so alluring. Mercedes are fortunate to have two of the best drivers on the grid and so far they have allowed them to go head-to-head in the battle for the title which, unlike team orders, makes the sport exciting.

If would be a shame if that situation changes and priority is given to either one of these drivers. Team orders or not, yesterday Lewis Hamilton got it absolutely right.

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Mercedes row overshadows epic Hungary GP

Ian Parkes 28/07/2014
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No way past: Hamilton keeps his team-mate and title rival Rosberg behind him yesterday.

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg face clear-the-air-talks with their Mercedes bosses during Formula One’s summer break after a team orders affair overshadowed a sen­sational Hungarian Grand Prix.

A heavy downpour over the Hungaroring 50 minutes before the start of the race resulted in crashes and safety cars during the first third. It led to a shake up of the field, with Daniel Ricciardo taking the win, and a previously forlorn Hamilton claiming another podium for the second successive Sunday from a seemingly hopeless position.

Starting from the pit lane after a fire during qualifying caused extensive damage to his Mercedes, and despite a spin on his opening lap that caused minor damage to his front wing, Hamilton claimed a brilliant third behind Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.

The 29-year-old just held on to that position come the end of 70 pulsating laps as team-mate and title rival Rosberg finished hot on his heels, a result that saw the Brit­on move to within 11 points of the German in the overall classification with eight races remaining.

However, not for the first time this season, bad blood simmered post-race as on lap 51 Hamilton was ordered to let Rosberg by as the duo were on different strategies. At that stage they were running third and fourth, but Hamilton refused to yield, and come the chequered flag his decision appeared vindicated as to have done so could have resulted in him losing more points to Ros­berg.

The suggestion, however, is in not doing so it cost Rosberg the win.

From an individual perspective, Hamilton is also going for the world title and with his team-mate as his only rival, he is hardly likely to hand him a position on a plate.

Hamilton said: "I was in the same race as him. Just because he had one more stop than me doesn’t mean I wasn’t in the same race as him. Naturally, if I’d have let him by he would have had the opportunity to pull away, and after his pit stop he would have come back and over­taken me.

“So I was very, very shocked the team would ask me to do that, to be able to better his position. To be honest he didn’t get close enough to overtake, but I was never going to lift off and lose ground to Fernando or Daniel to enable him to have a better race. So that was a bit strange.”

The calculation came from Paddy Lowe, executive techni­cal director, with the directive passed on to Hamilton by his race engineer Pete Bonnington. Motorsport boss Toto Wolff has conceded he and Lowe will sit down with Hamilton and Rosberg to dis­cuss the situation, and in all likeli­hood never issue such a command again to either man.

Wolff said: “We need to analyse how we ended up at that situation, and whether we need to discuss the racing between the two. It is get­ting intense and it is clear they are direct competitors for the world championship, so we need to sit down and discuss it.

“If Lewis had let Nico go, Nico could have won the race, but as a racer, a driver, I can under­stand why Lewis didn’t obey. I could have gone on the radio, or Paddy could (to insist a move was made), but we didn't.

“I don’t want to play the vicious general and demand they obey the rules. Maybe what we decided at the beginning of the year doesn’t function any more, and now we cannot ask either driver to give up positions or jeopardise their cham­pionship chances for the benefit of the team.”

Mercedes non-executive chair­man and three-times champion Niki Lauda believes Hamilton was perfectly within his rights to have done what he did.

He said he understood why Lewis had asked why he should slow down in the middle of the circuit to let his team colleague by.

He said: “He is fighting for the championship, so from my point of view Lewis was right.”

From Rosberg's perspective, he appears intent on making his point clear when talks are held.

He said: “We have to discuss it internally. It would not make sense to speak about that now.”

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