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Mercedes should have imposed team orders, says Stewart

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Formula One - Grand Prix of Austria - Spielberg, Austria - 2/7/16 - Mercedes Formula One drivers Nico Rosberg of Germany and Lewis Hamilton of Britain during a news conference. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler
Formula One - Grand Prix of Austria - Spielberg, Austria - 2/7/16 - Mercedes Formula One drivers Nico Rosberg of Germany and Lewis Hamilton of Britain during a news conference. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler

By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Mercedes should have imposed team orders on Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at the Austrian Grand Prix to avoid the last lap collision that cost them a one-two finish, Jackie Stewart said on Tuesday.

"If I had been running that team, five laps from the end I would have said ‘You’re going to hold position now'," the 77-year-old retired triple world champion told Reuters.

The Scot, who ran his own Formula One team in the late 1990s, was speaking after the launch of a charity seeking a cure for dementia after his wife Helen was diagnosed with the condition two years ago (www.raceagainstdementia.com).

Stewart highlighted the many millions of dollars Mercedes invested in Formula One, the more than 1,000 employees involved and the interests of sponsors as being above what the drivers want.

"I’m sorry, this is a business. It isn’t amateur day on the golf course, this is the Open championship," he said.

"Both drivers are very talented, I’ve got a high respect for the skills of Lewis and Nico. But I’m sorry, if I were the Mercedes-Benz chairman, or head of marketing, I’d be saying ‘Guys, we need to finish races’.

"I hope the drivers understand that they are getting paid a huge amount of money to drive cars. It’s not what they want (that matters). This is a serious business that they are in."

Stewart, who won his titles in 1969, 1971 and 1973, said his former boss Ken Tyrrell would have put an immediate stop to any behaviour that went against the team's interest.

Mercedes have let their drivers race freely but Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff, who is also a 30 percent shareholder in the champions, warned on Sunday that might have to change.

The Austrian, who said the collision was 'brainless', will discuss how to respond this week before the team heads to Silverstone for Sunday's British Grand Prix.

Hamilton won at the Red Bull Ring after he and championship leader Rosberg, who was in front, collided as the Briton tried to pass around the outside.

It was their second major clash this season, with the pair colliding on the first lap in Spain and putting each other out of the race.

The stewards punished Rosberg for causing the Austrian collision, imposing a meaningless time penalty and reprimand for continuing with a damaged car to finish fourth.

"Lewis didn’t do anything wrong, in my opinion," said Stewart.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris)


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