Hamilton’s decision to defy team orders upsets management

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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Lewis Hamilton may have driven himself into trouble with his Mercedes team after defying direct orders near the end of Sunday’s gripping Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where the British driver lost his title to teammate Nico Rosberg in a nerve-shredding finale.

Hamilton won the race but needed Rosberg to finish outside of the top three in order to retain his title.

In order to further this bid, he used a technique known as backing up. It was designed to slow Rosberg down and allow pursuing drivers Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari and Dutch teen Max Verstappen of Red Bull to catch up.

Had they both overtaken Rosberg, then Hamilton’s win would have been enough for the title. Vettel and Verstappen were right on Rosberg’s tail in the closing stages as Hamilton refused to accelerate – even after Mercedes asked him twice.

First of all, Hamilton ignored a race engineer’s request for him to speed up and then even rebuffed executive director Paddy Lowe’s explicit order to speed up.

“I’m in the lead right now,” he responded to Lowe. “I’m quite comfortable where I am.”

Wolff described Lowe’s intervention as “the highest escalation (procedure) we have.”

And he appeared to issue a warning.

“Anarchy doesn’t work in any team or any company,” he said. “Undermining a structure in public means you’re putting yourself before the team.”

Asked if Hamilton could face punishment, Wolff said: “I need to form an opinion, which I haven’t yet” and “everything’s possible.”

Rosberg’s view was diplomatic.

“You can understand the team’s perspective and you can understand Lewis’ perspective,” the German driver said. “So that’s it.”

Mercedes wanted Hamilton to speed up because it was concerned that Vettel was gaining ground and could have won the race.

Hamilton was totally unapologetic over the incident in the post-race news conference.

Instead, he openly complained about what he considered to be overly zealous interference.

“I don’t know why they just didn’t let us just race. There was never a moment where I thought I was going to lose the race,” Hamilton said. “It’s a bit of a shame they wouldn’t (just let us race). It’s clear (what) their thought process (is).”

Hamilton wasn’t finished.

“We had already won the constructors’ championship, so it was down to me and Nico today. However, they still felt that they needed to make comments,” Hamilton said. “I’m in a position where I’ve had a lot of points lost in the season, so for me I’m out there fighting.”

Hamilton’s latest reference to lost points is a continuation of previous complaints throughout the season with regards to the engine problems that cost him vital points. None more so than during the Malaysian GP, when his engine failed as he was closing in on an easy victory.

“When I look back on the season, if there’s anything to be negative about (it) would be cars failing in certain places,” Hamilton said on Thursday. “(With the same engine) as the car that wouldn’t stop during testing.”

On Thursday, Hamilton had also brought up another issue that still rankles with him.

Prior to the start of the season, Mercedes swapped several mechanics around from each side of the garage in a bid to end the divide that had been growing between the two drivers’ groups.

“You’ll have to buy my book … down the line … in 10 years’ time when I tell you exactly what happened,” the British driver said. “It will be an interesting read.”

In the immediate future, it will also be interesting to see how Mercedes handles this latest incident with Hamilton now that the season is over.

Gabby Chaves to sub for Joao Barbosa at Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen

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Gabby Chaves is set to return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International later this month.

The Columbian-American driver, who last competed in IMSA in 2016 – with the DeltaWing outfit – will sub for the injured Joao Barbosa – he hurt his wrist in a cycling accident earlier in June – in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.

Chaves will partner Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac.

Chaves expressed gratitude for being asked to fill in, but kept his enthusiasm muted, noting that he is getting the opportunity ultimately because another driver got hurt.

“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao having his injury,”said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”

Chaves added, “I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there. I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”

Chaves’ most recent IMSA event was the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, when he finished seventh in the Prototype class.

The No. 5 Action Express Cadillac currently sits tied with the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr atop the IMSA standings, though Barbosa’s hopes of a driver’s championship are set to take an enormous hit with him missing Watkins Glen.

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