Mercedes team in jeopardy?
The two Mercedes teammates have had an incredibly successful F1 season, with Mercedes taking all but one race this year. But the rivalry is undeniable.
They are on top of the constructors' standings. Both drivers for the team are on top of the drivers' standings as well - Hamilton at #1, Rosberg at #2. However, could there be trouble brewing within the team?
Both drivers have been on the podium every single race this year, and Mercedes have only missed victory at one race – the Malaysian Grand Prix, where Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel dominated the track. Hamilton and Rosberg now have 3 and 2 races to their name for the 2015 season respectively.
However, rumours and reports of dissent within the team are constant press fodder, and it is possible there may be some truth to them. Prior to Hamilton’s contract renewal, there was talk of the Briton moving to Ferrari, rumours shot down by both Mercedes and the Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene. There was also not-entirely-unfounded talk of Rosberg being unhappy with Hamilton, who was looking then for a paycheque significantly higher than Rosberg’s and primacy on the Mercedes team.
When questioned, Rosberg would later go on to clarify that a clause in his contract specified that both drivers would be “treated equally, as teammates”. The inclusion of the clause proved that there was some concern from Rosberg and his management, and that it was an issue they felt the need to have addressed.
At the China Grand Prix, Rosberg accused Hamilton, who won the race, of ‘backing him up’ into third-place winner Vettel, or intentionally driving slowly, causing him to back up into the Ferrari on his tail.
Rosberg said it was "frustrating" and put them under "unnecessary pressure", and that there would be a team discussion later. Hamilton vehemently denied all accusations. Their rivalry precedes this year, however. At the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix, at which Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo emerged the victor, Rosberg clipped Hamilton, and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, a long-time Hamilton supporter, sided with the driver and held Rosberg at fault for the incident, as did Hamilton himself.
More recently, Hamilton was visibly displeased as he lost out on a victory at the Monaco Grand Prix due to error that was mostly pit-crew related, but also partly associated with himself. After a strong qualifying round, beginning Monaco at pole and holding his lead for more than 65% of the race, an unnecessary tyre change and misestimation of a gap led to Hamilton dropping to, and finishing the race in 3rd position – a race Rosberg won, with Vettel in second.
An angry, disappointed Hamilton knocked down the third place sign at the end of the track, nad openly said that he was unable to process his surprise loss at the time. Later, however, he expressed a sense of solidarity with Mercedes, saying they were a ‘team that worked well for him’ – important as Hamilton has just has signed a $100million contract ensuring he stays with the team for the next 3 years.
Rosberg’s contract, renewed last year, runs through to the end of the 2016 racing season
In a release on Facebook following his win at Monte Carlo, Rosberg acknowledged that the race had been a ‘lucky win’, saying it was “Lewis’ victory”, and that he ‘deserved to win’. There has been no response from Hamilton, however, and considering his disappointment and history with Rosberg, with whom he had been childhood friends, it remains to be seen what the dynamic at Mercedes will now be.
In a press interview yesterday, Hamilton said he would employ Senna’s tactics to block Rosberg – tactics the Brazilian F1 icon had used in his intense rivalry with Alain Prost.
Will the childhood buddies be the new Senna v. Prost? Only time will tell..