Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2016

Lowe refused to give Hamilton a second order to speed up

2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Mercedes’ executive director for technical Paddy Lowe has revealed how Lewis Hamilton’s controversial tactics in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix baffled the team’s strategists.

Hamilton infuriated the team by deliberately slowing in the latter phase of the race in an attempt to encourage other cars to pass Nico Rosberg, which was his last chance of winning the championship.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2016
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix team radio transcript
A few laps from the flag Lowe was heard on the radio telling Hamilton: “We need you to pick up the pace to win this race. That is an instruction.”

Hamilton ignored the instruction and continued to restrict the pace but Lowe was reluctant to issue a second order, as he explained in an interview at the Autosport Awards.

“When I told Lewis to speed up the next debate on the pit wall came from Toto to ‘tell him again, he hasn’t done it’,” said Lowe. “So I said ‘no, then I will look a complete pillock if I do that again’.”

“James [Vowles] who sits to my right, is actually the most fantastic strategist. But it didn’t compute with him that the driver wasn’t going at the right speed. So he was struggling with that.”

“And then it was ‘well, make him speed up otherwise the graph shows we’ll lose’. So the conversation I was having was ‘don’t you think once he sees a red car in the mirror he’ll put the throttle in a bit harder?’ So we were having our own debates. But I put a marker down.”

Lowe said the tense conclusion to the season was “a great ending for not only the team but for the sport as a whole that will really have brought new fans to the sport”.

“Although I told Lewis to speed up I think it was fine what happened,” he added.

“It’s worth remembered that in Monaco we told Nico to let Lewis past and that was my other team instruction of the year and he did that within one corner. Just for a bit of balance, that’s worth remembering.”

2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
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216 comments on “Lowe refused to give Hamilton a second order to speed up”

  1. So really, they were so focused on there computer data and forgot a human was driving the car infront.
    Thats quite embarrasing for such a clever bunch of guys.

    1. @theoddkiwi
      Have you tried reading the article?

      1. I’m going to go out on a limb and say yes, they have read the article. Because that is clearly what it says Vowles did.

        Lewis Hamilton was in a Mercedes and was in the lead. He wasn’t going to lose that race – you don’t need graphs to tell you that.

      2. make him speed up otherwise the graph shows we’ll lose

        I’d say he has read it yeah

        1. So the conversation I was having was ‘don’t you think once he sees a red car in the mirror he’ll put the throttle in a bit harder?’ So we were having our own debates. But I put a marker down.

          Seriously …

          1. Yes. The fact that Lowe had to say that to another team member proves the OPs point too.

          2. @ Martin:
            Op said they were so focussed on computer data that they forgot a human was driving the car. However, the article unambiguously says that the only one who seemed to struggle to reach that conclusion, was Mercedes’s strategy guy James Vowles, whereas Paddy Lowe completely disagreed with him.

            James Vowles is no they, is he? He’s a highly specialised numbers guy, but crucially, he is one person with a very particular view on that subject. The broad majority of the ‘bunch of clever guys’ were absolutely aware of what was happening, so there’s nothing they need to be embarrassed of.

          3. Ah the lack of reply buttons :(


            The broad majority of the ‘bunch of clever guys’ were absolutely aware of what was happening

            If that was the case how did it get to the point of Lowe radioing Hamilton to say to speed up?

          4. @nase

            If you include Toto then it is they

            “When I told Lewis to speed up the next debate on the pit wall came from Toto to ‘tell him again, he hasn’t done it’,” said Lowe. “So I said ‘no, then I will look a complete pillock if I do that again’.”

            I mean common you don’t need to be picky about the they. It is not clear who tought like that or not, apart from James.. who cares?

        2. petebaldwin (@)
          5th December 2016, 10:24

          All of this is irrelevant though – the fact is that they were asking Hamilton to speed up so that they (Mercedes) won a meaningless race in a championship that was already finished at the expense of him winning the drivers title.

          It shows what Mercedes thinks of the WDC – less important than winning a race that means absolutely nothing.

          1. No, it means that the team boss wants his cars to get a safe one-two every race and make his brand look as good as it can. What he doesn’t want is them crashing or being beaten by a Ferrari.

          2. No it more appropriately explains the complete disconnects that explain Monaco 015 or Austria 016.

            In other words races where Mr Strategy persistently penalises the out front leader by miles just to ensure a 1-2 even at the expense of said leader – and particularly Hamilton because Rosberg frankly always needed more help getting up the grid. It certainly caused Austria this year. It signposts a flaw in the equal driver and just one strategist like it or not.

            As for speeding up – every time LH has shown his absolute mastery and just vanished (something his ex team mate has never done )!it has come back and bit him.


            Just a couple – let alone the blow ups!

            You name it. And as a result I do not blame him for driving slow as possible. I mean with Malaysia as the last time you went for it? The race that ended your chamionship?

            Obviously there were other reasons for him doing so in Abu but honestly Mercedes were so far wrong in just about all reading of that race it’s untrue.

            And there lies the weakness – they fall apart in the one guy and his computers desperate to get 1-2’s is a substantial weakness particularly if one driver is much stronger and far in the lead and a slick team will take them apart if they do not have a car superiority.

            Time to get real. Before you end up like Macca who did not believe it was raining because the computer said so – even with plastic ducks floating down the pit lane…

        3. +1 Lowe says they were having a debate – probably between taking the calculations at face value and an alternative scenario where Hamilton reacts, speeds up and gets away. It doesn’t actually make a whole lot of sense, though, that they even had a debate: if they thought Lewis could speed up, then it’s fairly obvious he would if Vettel got past. The question is whether he could speed up enough. But given how long it was taking Vettel to pass at a slower speed, he probably had it covered.

    2. You have a point there.
      Maybe Nico realized he was being treated like a machine instead of a human being.
      So he decided his wife and child were more important then Mercedes or glory.

      1. So tired of this Nico the family man crap – he was coming back if he lost!,,

        It’s obvious he knew it would not happen again and picked up the ball and ran off with it.

        Just like the sportsman he has been throughout!

        1. Although to be fair, at least he will have “undefeated world champion” to his name, which Hamilton won’t be able to say (for now). The “for now” bit, is in case Hamilton wins the WDC again, and promptly retires himself, which could happen.

          1. I know it’s only words but it’s all we can go off for now but funnily today Hamilton was quoted saying he would not retire, he says he gives an opportunity for someone to take it from him. Who knows though in a few years he could win the WDC but it be the most intense season of his life and he thinks “i’m no way in hell doing that again” and bows out, kinda the way i think Rosberg has done it.

          2. I think Triple World Champion with two teams and once without the constructors winning car (2008) will always sound much better.

          3. You are not “undefeated” just because you decide to throw in the towel before the season even starts.

            That being said, I totally respect his decision. It is not easy to put the family before your career when most of your life has been centered around this. Might be a little bit easier at this point, and he decided to take the plunge. I can’t fault that.

          4. “undefeated” relative to what exactly? was ham beating bushes past three years?

          5. Caveat, LH Fan here:
            Respect to Nico for the family man’s choice AND for the “… and now you can’t take it from me!”.

            If Lewis can be a “Mercenary” in his actions (and he is) then more power to Nico for making the most of this moment.

          6. He’s been defeated for season after season for years. What part of, if you don’t win the Championship in a given season, you were defeated, don’t you understand?

        2. I agree with you Drg. My comment was too soon even though I linked it with Barry Foster. I respect what Nico did, it’s his decision like Fosters was to go professional fly fishing instead of playing NFL football. The whole, “classy family man” crap is hyperbolic.

    3. Theoddkiwi (@theoddkiwi) Back at Brackley there is a team of 20 strategists who are connected live and are reviewing the race and strategy lap by lap. their job is to look at the Data and make recomendations as the race progresses. Naturally they expect the driver to conform to the strategy pointers and decisions. They are not concerned with the human aspect as it could cloud their judgement and decisions so the only embarrassing aspect of this scenario is that either you did not know this or you are disregarding the ruling system. Whichever way you slice it and dice it, Hamilton is a paid employee and he should respect the decisions of the team. He was happy with the strategy at the beginning of the race where he got first call on pit stops and therefore the advantage that that gave him and then went against the team when it suited him. He needs to be disciplined. And your post make you look a little stupid imho.

      1. Well of course Hamilton was OK with the strategy at the beginning, because if he started backing up Rosberg right from the start, Mercedes would of brought Rosberg in first. They said that is what they would do. Therefore the only time Hamilton could start backing up Rosberg is after the final pitstop, which is exactly what he did.
        As for disobeying orders, please. Any driver trying to win a WDC who obeys such an order to basically give up winning such title would be considered a right fool.
        The last bit was uncalled for, he/she is right, plus it was pretty obvious that if they had looked at the actual rather than the timing screens, that there was never in any doubt that Hamilton had P1 “in the bag”. So a little less data watching and a bit more race watching is what they should done.
        Finally, Mercedes management went against the word that stated they would not interfere. Therefore when they issued those orders they were making themselves look foolish, not the driver trying to win a WDC.

        1. No they’re not.

          There was a rumour, and Wolff was asked point blank on the grid prior to the race if the plan of “if Lewis holds up Nico, you’ll bring Nico in first” was true, and he said it was. So of course Hamilton wasn’t going to noticeably hold him up until after the last stop.

          They also said prior to the race that they wouldn’t interfere with the championship race. Until they did.

          And as I’ve said already, Hamilton was in front driving a Mercedes – of course he had it under control.

        2. What is laughable is to defend data blindness in a *sport*. Sport is supposed to be about people. If I wanted to watch cars go round based on a simulation, I’d watch a simulation and I’d be bored to tears. Mercedes actively tried to take the climax to our sporting year away from us and replace it with a Mercedes advert. Even C4 have the respect to hold ads till after the race.

        3. “look foolish” you mean ‘complete pillocks’ :)

      2. Angela, your insult to theoddkiwi is unacceptable and the rest of your comment is an insult to logic, imho.

        1. Agree with Angela, and I think a point needs to be re-iterated that LH had agreed before the race not to do what he did. He is the one that put them in the spot of having to make an instruction.

          1. Too right Robbie. The LH drones miss this point every time.

      3. Hamilton is a paid employee and he should respect the decisions of the team.

        I take it you think Piquet jnr is blameless and deserves another chance in F1 as all he did was respect the decision of the team ?

        1. Yeah, that’s a reasonable comparison.

          1. @robbie
            It’s as reasonable as expecting a driver to listen to a silly instruction to throw away the only opportunity he has to win a championship over half way through the last race of a season when the constructors championship is already won.

          2. it’s not a reasonable comparism as he Piquet Jr should have said no, resigned and then sued Renault for constructive dismissal.

          3. @beneboy What have you been drinking… can I get some? :-)

          4. @robbie

            Yeah, that’s a reasonable comparison.

            So you see that a result was fixed in both cases? If so, should the team principal be banned from F1 like the responsible for the crashgate?
            And before you accuse me of being desingenuous or reading things you haven’t written, I’m only trying to see all the possibilities from a similar case (“…reasonable comparison.”).

          5. @humb I think you have missed my sarcasm.

        2. Good comparison. But, how many teams would take a disobedient LH – any team that could afford him, Mercedes included.

          That’s the “real politik” that LH knew was an option and Mercedes’ pit wall knew they’d be explaining against their radio statements if they made too big of a stand. Further, LH would take a pay cut if it meant a WDC. Mercedes “let them race” policy had a similar problem when they crashed into each other.

          It’s a complex world out there.

      4. It would be nice if all the ‘paid employee’ protagonists actually did a little research into how F1 drivers are Contracted And the role of the F1 contracts board.

        Instead of imposing their own employment issues and feelings or demands onto a contractual status that they clearly ignore or have no knowledge of while wishing said F1 driver would be treated as they are in their workplace.

        Despite the fact there is a reason they earn 10’s of Millions that said ’employee’ will not.

        1. geoffgroom44 (@)
          5th December 2016, 18:44


        2. Well said DRG. The economics of the driver-team contract are completely different. When people spout the usual “if I went against my boss’ orders I would lose my job” I just laugh. And no decent driver would agree to terms giving the team full authority to execute whatever team orders they deemed acceptable.

      5. He needs to be disciplined.

        Its Formula 1, not an S&M evening. (Though some people have occasionally mixed up the two.)

      6. Paid employee……. I prefer hired “Gun”.

      7. Then just stick a robot in the car and be done with it. Jeez.

    4. Michael Brown (@)
      6th December 2016, 1:54

      They’re the same bunch of guys who forgot that it is hard to overtake in Monaco last year.

  2. James is the most fantastic strategist but coudnt get his head around the slower timed laps that Lewis was doing in the race……surely that job is to work out from the drivers actual speeds…what the strategy then is…he’s not that fantastic then if he couldn’t work out what Lewis was doing after the pitstops…….thankfully Lewis had it all under control
    ….and Paddy you didn’t need a second call to make yourself look a pillock

    1. @jop452 yeah but what use is there for a strategist to work out a strategy when the driver is not following the current best strategy? Hamilton basically went rogue, and I would say it is normal for a strategist to be lost at that point.

      1. Went rogue = drove the car himself.

        1. Went rogue = ignored those without whom he wouldn’t be (paid to be) in that position, in that car, with that number of titles.

          1. David – remind me not to employ you…

            You do realise he won the race and is not an employee?

            No probably not but there is no amount of education that will resolve your issues…

          2. What Lewis isn’t employed Mercedes?

            I’m not a Mercedes employee, how do I get to drive?

          3. geoffgroom44 (@)
            5th December 2016, 18:50

            He is paid what he is paid and contracted precisely because ‘he goes rogue’ as you call it. Some call it genius.Some call it highly motivated.In sport, some call it impossible. He is a champ, and Verstappen is also coming along the ‘rogue route’ simply because they seem able to do the unthinkable and do it at tremendous speed. Just look at Max in Brazil.
            And whilst we are on the subject of the ‘technicians’ and ‘virtual reality experts’, why were they not seeing the failure of oil pressure in their engine prior to it blowing up?
            The art of F1 transcends merely the technical don’t you think?

        2. David BR
          5th December 2016, 10:30

          Went rogue = drove the car himself.
          No it = Totally diregarded the teams instructions because he is a little prima donna and need his butt kicking all the way home. Not a sporting bone in his body and totally disrespectful to his team with whom he had agreed a racing protocol with 3 years previously.

          1. Hahahaha riiiiiight. Wanting to win the WDC = not a sporting bone in his body? The only unsporting and disrespectful thing that happened in Abu Dhabi was Mercedes asking Hamilton to give Rosberg the championship.

          2. No it = Totally diregarded the teams instructions because he is a little prima donna and need his butt kicking all the way home.

            I think you are showing your anti-Hamilton bias there.

            Again, Mercedes hired Hamilton because he is one of the best. No top driver will give up on the WDC while he still has a chance. Ergo, Hamilton was doing exactly what the team employed him for, and the team issued an order which they knew he would never follow.

            “Not a sporting bone in his body” – Again, showing your bias.

            “totally disrespectful to his team” – Or doing exactly what the team pays him for: driving to the best of his ability, trying to win the WDC.

          3. Except you’re forgetting the most important part:

            The team said, “Hamilton, if you don’t speed up, Vettel will win the race”.

            Hamilton didn’t speed up.

            Vettel didn’t win the race. He didn’t even make it past Rosberg (although he came close once).

            This suggests the driver knew better than the team– and not for the first time, either (Hungary 2014, Canada 2012 being the first two examples I can think of)– and that’s why Paddy wouldn’t repeat the message.

          4. Tell us about previously agreeing things… Rosberg agreed to drive for more two years for Mercedes, and then he quits just like that! And making sure that the whole world knows that it wouldn’t be retiring for him is he had failed in getting the crown. That could be seen as selfish act, putting himself over the team, making the team at his disposal, not the other way around. But HE CAN, because he speaks even Esperanto, he has a wife, he has a daughter, he has blue eyes (pick one).
            Who’s letting the team down?

          5. @humb

            Who’s letting the team down?

            Which is precisely the question that would be looming were Mercedes to have carried through the threat to penalize Hamilton, and one very good reason why the idea was probably dropped two minutes after Rosberg’s announcement.

        3. David, Ham clearly Hamilton went rogue, he chose the dark side precisely because the force is strong with it! think not, do or do not… :) buzzz buzzz…

    2. ColdFly F1 (@)
      5th December 2016, 10:26

      Never liked it when Mercedes went with 2 bosses (or even 3 before the bullied the best one out).

      1. Ross Braun agreed a 3 year contract with Haug when Mercedes purchased the team and he left when his contract was up. So where is the bullying that you are referring to?

        1. Ross told recently that he left Mercedes because he felt he couldn’t trust Wolff and Lauda.
          He seems to be pretty on the point, given the way the two austrian managed the team in the last three years. Hampering their best driver’s season twice and making him lose once could be very, very costly, if Red Bull builts a good 2017 challenge.

          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            5th December 2016, 14:24

            @liko41 yes, that small comment carries a huge amount of truth and wasn’t made lightly by Ross.

            No one has any idea of what Lewis has been able to achieve over the past 2 years. He must be equally shocked by Lewis’ achievements, probably more than Toto and Niki who are screaming “what on earth do we need to do here?”. Toto got so desperate that he called Verstappen’s dad – Nico was flying the Red Bull drivers and begging them to let him win. And before the last race, they were blackmailing Lewis and begging him to lose the WDC in the race…

            I think Mercedes banked on the fact that Nico would win the last 4 races as he did last year or at least match Lewis as he doesn’t favor those tracks but Lewis crushed Nico like a grape in quali and during the race in all 4:-)

            They didn’t even get that strategy right!!:-)

        2. ColdFly F1 (@)
          5th December 2016, 13:30

          @ Angela,

          So where is the bullying that you are referring to?

          In Ross’ own words “people were imposed on me I couldn’t trust”

  3. I think the issue here is that Nico obeyed the earlier order. Without that Lewis probably would not have one the Monaco GP. Nico was a team player and always has been, Lewis has always put himself before the team, forgetting that without the team he would not be the successful driver he deservedly is.

    1. geoffgroom44 (@)
      5th December 2016, 18:55

      Which is why, of course, in almost every interview Lewis gives after every win he is quick to pay tribute to all of the team and thank them for all of their work,dedication and encouragement. You probably miss this because you have already switched off in disgust that HAM has done it again.2016: 10 wins!

      1. Yeah that stupid drivel he spots every time, thx team, fans so great, blabla. He always totally ignores the question being asked and rams his vinyl record into play.

        1. geoffgroom44 (@)
          6th December 2016, 13:30

          My goodness, you really do hate him, don’t you? He was accused of not appreciating the team yet when he does you dismiss it. As for the question being asked, his ignoring of it is on a par with your ignoring of his thankful responses about the team.Pots and kettles,huh?

    2. I’m pretty sure walking away under contract because you want to raise your daughter (in others words, because YOU WANT to do so) can easily be seen as putting him/herself before the team. No matter the reason, he signed a contract, stated his will and terms. Is he that team player after all?

      1. Nikos (@exeviolthor)