By Daniel Wilson.
Yes, unfortunately, those two dreaded words have been dragged out the dirt in Formula One again. The latest collision between the two Mercedes drivers at the weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix forced team principal Toto Wolff to slam the possibility of team orders on the table.
Nico Rosberg was held responsible for crashing into Lewis Hamilton on the last lap in Spielberg as the German tried to defend his lead going into Turn 2. But his over-aggressive defence left the championship leader with egg on his face, as he lost his front wing, handing the win to his rival and losing out to the Red Bull and Ferrari of Verstappen and Raikkonen to limp home fourth.
Despite blaming Hamilton for the accident, who received a frosty reception from fans on the podium, the stewards handed Rosberg a ten second penalty for causing a collision and two points on his licence.
However, the pair’s latest coming together has forced a re-think in Brackley over Mercedes’ decision to let the two race freely.
This is the second time this season that they have clashed. In May, Hamilton and Rosberg took each other out on the first lap of the Spanish Grand Prix. And while Austria wasn’t as bad, the collision and the potential consequences could cast a real cloud over the rest of the season, but will team orders work?
My guess is no. Down the years teams have tried to control their drivers for the sake of the constructors title, but they’ve not always listened, and Mercedes are no exception.
At the Hungarian Grand Prix two years ago, Hamilton was asked by the team to move over for Rosberg who was on a different strategy, but he didn’t, and that was crucial to ensure Lewis finished ahead of his teammate.
In 2013, Nico was told not to attack Lewis at the Malaysian Grand Prix, and while the order was obeyed, there was clear frustration from the German and a desire to ignore the instruction.
That race was also memorable for Red Bull. Multi 21-gate exploded here when Sebastian Vettel ignored team orders not to attack Mark Webber in the final stint.
The problem Mercedes have, even if, god forbid, team orders are brought in, is that they have such an advantage that more often than not, it’s between their drivers as to who wins and who comes second.
And so, with both Hamilton and Rosberg competing in their home races over the coming weeks, team orders would both be stupid, unpopular, and in Lewis’ words, would ‘rob’ us of a titanic battle for this year’s championship.
Are team orders a good idea? Let us know below: