Hamilton defends team orders shun

Lewis Hamilton, left, and Nico Rosberg, right, are due a clear-the-air session

Lewis Hamilton, left, and Nico Rosberg, right, are due a clear-the-air session

First published in National Sport News © by

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg face clear-the-air-talks with their Mercedes bosses over 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 Fernando Alonso.

The 29-year-old just held on to that position at 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 at 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. The bigger picture is, of course, Mercedes are Hamilton's employers and pay his wages.

From an individual perspective, Hamilton is also going for the world title and with his team-mate as his only rival, so therefore was justified in not giving ground.

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.

"We need to analyse how we ended up at that situation, and whether we need to discuss the racing between the two," said Wolff.

"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.

"I understand why Lewis said 'Why should I stop now in the middle of the circuit to let my team colleague by?'," said Lauda.

"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.

"We have to discuss it internally. It would not make sense to speak about that now," said Rosberg.

"I don't want to speak theoretically about that situation, or what if and what people were thinking. It's better to discuss it in the team.

"I'm going to sit down with the team, Lewis will be there also, and we are going to go through everything and see how much we can learn from today, as always."

Caterham's Marcus Ericsson was the first to crash on lap eight, and just as the safety car deployed for that incident was due to return to the pits, it was forced to stay out for an accident involving Lotus' Romain Grosjean.

Fifteen laps later Sergio Perez smashed into the wall along the start-finish straight, bringing out the safety car for the second time.

Both incidents aided Hamilton's recovery drive, as well as playing into the hands of Ricciardo's second win for Red Bull and Alonso's first podium for 10 months for Ferrari.

On fresh tyres after making a third pit stop on lap 54, Ricciardo caught Hamilton and Alonso shortly before the end, both of whom had only made two stops.

Rosberg pitted two laps later and had Hamilton in his sights come the flag, only to fall short and wonder just how he finished behind a man who had started from the pit lane after he had set off from pole.

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