Brazilian GP Papers: Mercedes' strategy centre of the debate
Rights and wrongs of Mercedes' failure to split strategies, lack of overtaking, and Verstappen's latest star turn receive column inches
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 16/11/15 12:22pm
Mercedes' refusal to stray from their strategy protocols in the Brazilian GP proved the focus of press attention on Monday - with one newspaper claiming Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg had become 'more robots than racers'.
For the second successive race, the rights and wrongs of Mercedes' long-held policy of keeping their drivers on the same pit-stop strategy were debated by Fleet Street after the pair stayed in grid order during a 71-lap Interlagos race which proved short on headline incident.
1996 world champion and Sky F1 pundit Damon Hill expressed frustration after the race that Hamilton's mid-race request to try a different strategy in an attempt to overhaul Rosberg had not been granted - and there were plenty of similar views in Monday's newspapers.
'It was not just Hamilton's failure to win the Brazilian Grand Prix, following home an obdurate Nico Rosberg; it was the manner of it, lacking the killer move while obeying a Mercedes strategy which rendered the drivers more robots than racers,' wrote Daniel Johnson in The Daily Telegraph.
Although Mercedes' management did not come in for direct criticism in Monday's papers, with plenty awareness of the delicate balancing act the world champions face, Johnson asked: 'With both championships long since secured, why not let Hamilton take a risk, whatever the consequences?
'...Mercedes did their best to be unscrupulously fair to both drivers, mercilessly pounding in another one-two. The pitiful opposition - who continue to embarrass themselves by their absence from the serious proceedings - had no chance. The board in Stuttgart had what they wanted.'
In The Times, Kevin Eason was also left frustrated by the data-driven world of modern-day F1.
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'Corporate F1 operates in plans ordained for the good of all and not the benefit of the born racer," he wrote. 'For the second race in succession, Hamilton's instincts were subservient to the demands of his team. When he wants to race, the computer simply says, "No".'
Jonathan McEvoy, writing in the Daily Mail, agreed the race was 'hardly classic Brazil' but backed Mercedes' even-handed approach.
'It would have been intriguing to see Hamilton move to a different strategy, but it was a no-brainer for Mercedes to keep their drivers comfortably first and second by the safest means, and that is what they did,' he wrote. 'To have done otherwise could also have caused an injustice.'
Ultimately there was no overtaking between the Mercedes pair and the Independent's David Tremayne highlighted the disconnect between the 'gripping nip-and-tuck battle' on the timesheet and the experience of the watching public.
'Unfortunately, it was one of those fights that the two protagonists were in a position to appreciate far more than the spectators, who on the face of it saw the two Mercedes play follow my leader as they hit from the two Ferraris that could no nothing but stalk them from a distance,' he said.
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There was, however, more obvious action to enjoy further down the field and Paul Weaver wrote in the Guardian: 'The stars of Brazil 2015 were neither Rosberg nor Hamilton. They were Max Verstappen and Nico Hulkenberg. Verstappen pulled off so many eye-catching moves the only surprise was he came ninth.'
However, although Fleet Street were left as frustrated as fans by the soporific nature of the battle at the front, the performance of the race winner to beat Hamilton for the second straight race was not overlooked.
'All credit to Rosberg," wrote The Times' Eason. 'When he leads, he is almost always under extreme pressure not just from a talented team-mate, but a three-times world champion thought by many to rank among the greatest of all.'
Don't miss the F1 Midweek Report for analysis of the Brazilian GP and all the latest F1 news. NBC's F1 reporter Will Buxton and journalist Peter Windsor join Natalie Pinkham on Sky Sports F1 at 8:30pm on Wednesday.