Last Sunday was the Singapore Grand Prix and there was a lot of polemic. Why? Because Ferrari chose to benefit Sebastian Vettel instead of Charles Leclerc and Mercedes chose Hamilton instead of Valtteri. In this article we’re going to talk about Mercedes’ case.
Let’s remember that Charles took pole alongside Lewis, in P3 was Seb with Max next to him, further back was Hamilton’s teammate and Thai driver Alex Albon. During the first 20 laps, the top 6 drivers were in the same position as they started but, in that lap, Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen pitted for the hard compound. Ferrari decided to pit first Seb so he was able to undercut Lewis, but Lewis was planning to undercut Charles. On lap 21, Lewis’ race engineer told him to do the opposite of Charles, that means that if Charles stayed on track, Lewis would have pitted and vice versa. On that lap, Charles pitted, and Lewis stayed on track, his strategy was to overcut Leclerc but his tyres were dead and he wasn’t going to be able to overcut Charles, moreover, Lewis was going to be overtaken by both Ferraris, Max Verstappen and even Valtteri Bottas. When Mercedes noticed that Valtteri was going to undercut him, they told him to slow down so Lewis exit just in front of him, obviously the person who told him this was the Strategy Director, James Vowles and he used once again the phrase “Valtteri, it’s James”. Said and done, Valtteri followed the instructions and couldn’t fight for a podium.
So, what would had happened if the team orders hadn’t appeared? Probably Valtteri would have been able to fight for a podium finish, at least a P3, because he was doing excellent time laps and if he’d had continued with that pace, probably he would have had fight with Max Verstappen. It worth saying that Lewis fought with the Dutchman but didn’t achieve the overtake.
Formula One is about teamwork and what Valtteri has been doing these recent years to benefit Lewis is something to recognize. Of course, it is disappointing for the Finn driver, but it is what it is. Will we see more team orders in the next races? There are 6 races remaining, but anything can happen.