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F1 analysis: Merc's duelling drivers

2014-04-10 16:09

MERC’S DYNAMIC DUO: Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg (left) and Lewis Hamilton have been told by team boss Toto Wolff to keep up the competitive fight but to be careful not to take each other out. Image: AFP/ Mohammed Al-Shaikh

LONDON, England - On Thursday (April 10 2014) Wheels24 reported that Mercedes team director Toto Wolff told drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg  to continue their internal rivalry during races but cautioned them from performing any 'hara kiri' moves.

Mercedes claimed its third consecutive win in 2014 (Bahrain, Malaysia  and Australia) and second 1-2 finish.


The rivalry between the Mercedes pair produced an epic battle under the floodlights in Bahrain on April 6  but what Formula 1 fans saw was just the tip of the iceberg.

Behind the scenes, on separate sides of the garage and with teams of engineers trawling through banks of data, another duel unfolded but was witnessed only by a privileged few.

Mercedes executive technical director Paddy Lowe said: "There are opportunities to manage your energy flow, save it up perhaps and play it out in different places. The team is very well practised and trained in doing all that and how to use that with the drivers.

"And what we saw during that last 10 laps was not only the drivers competing but each side of the garage competing in terms of playing the game of energy deployment. A cat-and-mouse game, staying ahead of the other with the energy around the lap."


In 2013 F1 had just the kinetic dnergy recovery system (KERS) to provide a short-time boost for overtaking and defending a position.

The new rules  have seen the old V8 engines replaced by a V6 turbo/hybrid which provides a much greater boost and more strategy options. This is where the engineers play a bigger role, like a game of high-speed chess.

Lowe said: "Obviously you wouldn't be very aware of that although you may have heard a lot of strategy calls on the radio. That was a pretty exciting internal aspect to that competition.

"They (the driver's separate teams of engineers) can see each other's data so they immediately know 'OK, he's done that, you do this'. You could hear all of this going on."


Drivers are also delving deep into data with Mercedes maintaining an open policy on sharing everything between its drivers.

Before and after the race Hamilton, victorious in Malaysia  and Bahrain, and 2014 Australian GP winner Rosberg, immersed themselves in their rivals' telemetry searching for anything that might tip the balance.

With the team still unlocking the potential of the new power units, the unseen engineers are playing a huge role. Hamilton said: "We're in a period in which technology is everything. You don't see what goes on in the (engineers') room.

"You can't predict anything, everything's changing all the time from session to session... the target's moving all the time but we're trying to pinpoint the set-up on that target.

"As a driver and engineer it's very challenging. It's really good fun for us back in there but you don't get to see that stuff, what goes on behind closed doors."


After Hamilton's dominant win from pole at Sepang the team conducted an exhaustive analysis of the data to see where he had made the difference.

Hamilton said: "Someone in the team did a huge study on my pace last week and, when I arrived (in Bahrain)... there was this big document with all the reasons why I was quick. And he (Rosberg) used that to his advantage."

In Bahrain Rosberg showed how much the labours had paid off, even if it is a circuit he has always liked. He started on pole and the two crossed the finish line barely a second apart.

Hamilton said: "A lot of the advantages that I had in the previous race Nico found them as we came here and applied them and did even better.

"So I've got to go now and find out what he did better than me and see if I can improve for the next race."

Stay with Wheels24 for the 2014 F1 season – fresh reports every day.

Read more on:    mercedes  |  lewis hamilton  |  nico rosberg  |  bahrain  |  motorsport  |  racing  |  f1

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