Toto Wolff is adamant he has no issue with Lewis Hamilton refusing to let Nico Rosberg pass him in Hungary as the latter “never got close enough…
Toto Wolff is adamant he has no issue with Lewis Hamilton refusing to let Nico Rosberg pass him in Hungary as the latter “never got close enough.”
Fighting for the Championship titles, tensions mounted at Mercedes last Sunday when Hamilton ignored team orders to let Rosberg to overtake him.
Hamilton went on to finish the grand prix in third place while Rosberg was fourth. As such the Brit close the gap in the title race to just 11 points.
Hamilton later revealed that he was “very, very shocked” that Mercedes had issued the call while motorsport boss Wolff says he understands why it was ignored.
“When the Safety Car came out, we chose to split the strategies, and offset ourselves to the cars ahead, in order to create opportunities to win, or worst case finish on the podium,” he told the team’s website.
“When we did so, Nico was running two positions in front of Lewis. We put Nico on to an aggressive three-stopper and Lewis on to a two-stop, with a long final stint on the prime tyre.
“That meant they would find each other on track at some point – and we would have a situation to manage. Lewis was asked to let Nico pass because we believed they both still had a chance to win the race as the strategies played out.
“But Nico never got close enough to Lewis to make the move – and we were ultimately comfortable with the decision Lewis made to hold position.”
Wolff was pressed as to why a team that insisted that they would not issue team orders and that the drivers were free to race had done the exact opposite.
He said: “As a racing team, our mission is to win the Championship and to win races. We thought both of our drivers had a chance to fight for teh race win – not just for a podium finish – so we acted according.
“When it comes to drivers in the same team running alternative strategies, it is usual for them not to make life hard for each other when it comes to overtaking. But we must appreciate that we are not in a usual situation any more.”
And although the Austrian appreciates the team order issue at Mercedes, he reckons the team has bigger problems to resolve especially on the reliability front.
“At the start of the season, Paddy (Lowe, technical director) and I agreed a clear policy with the drivers that they are free to race for the win – as long as they are fighting for it,” he added.
“Equally, we have been clear that our priority as a team is always to give ourselves the best chance of winning the race – no matter which driver is fighting for it. The calls Paddy and the team (made) on the pit wall on Sunday were completely in line with our policy.
“And so, our drivers will continue to be free to race for the remainder of the 2014 Championship; and they will be racing to win. However, we should also be clear-sighted about the situation: this debate about team orders is obscuring our real problem at the moment, which is reliability.
“If we give the drivers the opportunity to use the full potential of the car on every lap, then we have the performance to race at the front of the field – and they will be free to race for the win without external factors playing a role.
“We haven’t done that recently and that has given us some headaches. But those problems can be avoided if we do a better job.”