Date:Thursday December 15 2016
Having let the Abu Dhabi desert dust settle, it would now appear that Mercedes regret the way they tried to manage the Formula One championship decider.
The duel in the desert was how the finale of the 2016 Formula One World Championship was billed.
In truth, there was no real duel, the battle had already been won.
Whilst Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton arrived in Abu Dhabi level on nine Grand Prix victories, Hamilton's lack of reliability and Rosberg's whole season without issues was the difference.
Rosberg knew that all he had to do was finish on the podium and Hamilton knew that winning the race was simply not enough.
On the grid before the race, everyone assumed that Hamilton would try to back-up Rosberg into a fight with the Red Bull's and Ferrari's, as this was his only available tactic, he needed Rosberg to finish out of the top three.
However Mercedes were seemingly insistent on not wanting any interference for the championship and wanted their drivers to play the team game and finish one-two.
Before the race they threatened to give Rosberg the preferred pit-stop strategy if Hamilton tried to back up Rosberg, as this would have enabled the German to leapfrog Hamilton using the undercut.
Once that option to defuse the situation had passed, they attempted to instruct Hamilton to speed up and then spoke of their frustration after the race because he failed to do so.
Hamilton was supposedly in line for a disciplinary which could have been as little as a fine, or as much as a race suspension or even sacking [summary of the papers by Sky Sports].
“Undermining a structure in public means you’re putting yourself before the team – that’s very simple. Anarchy doesn’t work in any team or any company. Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said to motorsport.com immediately following the race.
But then Nico Rosberg stunned the world and Mercedes with his shock decision to retire with immediate affect from the sport.
Now with no need to defuse the intense situation between Hamilton and Rosberg, Mercedes have had a rethink on how they handled the situation.
'In the heat of the moment, sometimes when you make decisions you get them wrong,' Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff told Sky Sports.
'In our mind, the way we think, this race is giving us the same number of points as other races and we try to win that one, not considering that there was much more at stake for the drivers.
'How the race panned out, we should have communicated differently and in hindsight let them race in the way they deemed to be appropriate.'
Whilst this sounds like Mercedes intend to perhaps loosen the leash and allow their drivers to race, the concluding comment may worry some F1 watchers.
Wolff added that the team 'need to change our values and our rules of engagement going forward'.
Does this mean a stricter or more relaxed approach?
Date:Thursday December 15 2016
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