Mercedes: No team orders between Hamilton and Rosberg

Leave a comment

Mercedes co-chief Toto Wolff has said that drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton will be free to race without team orders this season, as the Silver Arrows look poised to be the pace-setter throughout the first few races.

During practice for the Australian Grand Prix, Rosberg and Hamilton were dominant, topping two of the three sessions and even enjoying a 1-2 in FP2. Although rain showers threatened to scupper the team’s hopes of pole position during qualifying on Saturday, Hamilton responded in great fashion to snatch P1 away from home favorite Daniel Ricciardo with his final lap time, whilst Rosberg qualified in third place. It also marked the 100th Mercedes-powered pole position.

With team orders at Ferrari and Red Bull sparking controversy over the past few years, Wolff confirmed that the team would not be employing a similar tactic because of the great relationship between its drivers.

“They are completely free to race because this is why we are here,” Wolff explained. “We’ve had some discussions about it, we’ve put it down, but I don’t think this is going to be an issue or a problem.”

The team did use team orders at last year’s Malaysian Grand Prix, where the faster Rosberg was prevented from passing Hamilton for the final podium position. However, Wolff insists that under the duumvirate of himself and Paddy Lowe (working in tandem as ‘team principal’), the team won’t be doing the same in 2014 despite there being some advantages to it.

“We need to make sure that as a team we are running strongly,” he said. “Then it is to be decided case by case what is going on in the cars. It could go one race in one direction and another race in the other direction, but I think all situations we have discussed and found a solution which is acceptable to Nico, Lewis and the team.”

Mercedes will be gunning to win the first race of the season today in Australia, with coverage starting at 1:30am ET on NBCSN and Live Extra. You can watch via live stream here.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.