Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Bahrain, 2014

Mercedes’ Bahrain battle “too dangerous” – Warwick

2014 F1 season

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Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Bahrain, 2014Mercedes has risked too much by allowing its drivers to fight each other for the championship, according to former F1 driver Derek Warwick.

The veteran of 146 grands prix served as a driver steward at four races last year including the Bahrain Grand Prix, where Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg fought a hard wheel-to-wheel battle for victory.

The race was celebrated by many as one of the high points of the season. However but Warwick said “in Bahrain the duel between Hamilton and Rosberg was too dangerous” in an interview with author Karoly Mehes for a recently published book about the life of Gilles Villeneuve.

“It showed a sign of stupidity because if both drivers were out of the race it might have looked good for the television audience, but at the end of the day you have to show more responsibility to the team and sponsors.”

“Mercedes was very lucky,” Warwick added. As well as allowing their two drivers to race each other, both drivers’ engineers fed them information from the pit wall on what the other car was doing.

Later in the year Hamilton and Rosberg collided during the Belgian Grand Prix, allowing Daniel Ricciardo to win for Red Bull. As Mercedes are likely to have the most competitive car again this year, how the team treats its drivers is likely to remain under scrutiny.

Villeneuve, who Warwick raced against in his first two seasons of F1, infamously fell out with team mate Didier Pironi in a row over team orders shortly before he was killed at Zolder in 1982. Warwick said there were “always agreements within the teams between drivers” at the time and that sometimes it is necessary to call off a battle between team mates.

“The most important was you can race, but don’t take each other out and end the team’s race,” he added. “There are certain times when you are asked as a driver to hold position. That was in the 1980s, the 1990s and also today.”

Look out for a review of Gilles Villeneuve: His untold life from Berthierville to Zolder coming soon on F1 Fanatic

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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89 comments on “Mercedes’ Bahrain battle “too dangerous” – Warwick”

  1. Warwick really needs to shut up these cars are safe as hell and the run off areas were absolutely endless, **** the sponsors and the team were fine with them racing, why the **** does he want 2002 Ferarri again?

    Honestly the most stupid comment I’ve ever read about F1. Warwick must have damaged his head in Monza 1990 because how can he say just open wheel racing is dangerous I ask? Unbelievable.

    1. Furthermore letting them racing meant the sponsors got FAR more airtime and even if they had crashed it would have been endlessly replayed so the sponsors would have got even MORE airtime!

      Remember 1980 Monaco? Would anybody even know Tyrell were sponsored by Candy if they hadn’t crashed at the first corner? Hell, if that hadn’t happened in the UK I would not even have known what Candy was!!!

      1. Exactly. How many people are feverishly scouring YouTube for the orderly parade of controlled dominance that Citroen provided at Marrakesh in the WTCC last year? How many people would still remember Malaysia ’13 had Vettel not ignored team orders? Inversely, how many times has the clips of Rosberg and Hamilton chopping and changing been replayed on TV over the past year?

    2. I have a different opinion from Derek Warwick too, but is there something wrong with him having an opinion? He makes some good points, and I’m sure a lot of people feel the same way he does. Or would you rather attack his ideas instead of learning from them? Pah, what could you possibly learn from someone who’s been in 146 grand prixs……

      1. And breaking the track camera (BTCC Donington 1995)

      2. Maybe because he’s wrong? Does he just want a Ferrari 2002 procession or does he want to see the 2 dominant cars fighting? Why is he interested in the multi billion $ sponsors plastered all over it (which ironically as I said before get MORE exposure when the cars race).

        There’s nothing wrong with having the wrong opinion, other than it being wrong.

        And I don’t care how many races Warwick has done that does not give him a free pass to be an idiot.

        Learn from his ideas? What can I learn from that? Learn to NOT like F1 cars being F1 cars and learn to like a race when the leader is followed around by second place with no action at all?

        Care to explain?

      3. There’s nothing right or wrong with him having an opinion, I presume he’s alive, breathing and thinking. The problem is with his opinion. It’s an issue because he’s employed as a steward. Which means his idea that racing is, quote, ‘stupid’, will presumably have some bearing on the decisions he makes as a steward. Is that the kind of steward F1 needs, someone who thinks racing is a stupid idea – I mean, really??!

        1. +1000 very very well said to you Sir David and Sir Mike James. Can’t add at all to what you 2 gentlemen have said as it is spot on.

      4. Warwick was an average base kmarker when Mansell was the British star. Never won anything. He also tries to discredit Lewis Hamilton at every opportunity when a via steward.

      5. There’s nothing wrong with him having an opinion– Warwick is a driver with a great deal of experience, and (usually), with experience comes wisdom. However– in this case, he’s arguing that some of the most spectacular racing from 2014 was “stupid” and “dangerous”. The reality is that at this particular track, with lots of runoff, and the cars being as well built as they were, the drivers were in no particular danger.

        Further, the team specifically laid down what they expected… That the drivers were allowed (and expected) to race, but, both drivers were told “bring the car home in one piece”, and they did. That’s because Hamilton and Rosberg are professionals, and can race at 200 mph and go wheel-to-wheel with each other without colliding, because they’re supposed to be among the 22 (at the time) best race car drivers in the world. It’s THEIR JOB.

        If the team doesn’t have confidence that the drivers can handle that sort of pressure, then the team should find two drivers who can– which if I’m not mistaken, was exactly what Hamilton and Rosberg were threatened with after Spa, and at the beginning of Monza.

        Had Warwick said it was a risky decision that could have ended badly for the team and the drivers (See Istanbul, 2010, Red Bull for a classic example), I don’t think anyone would have disagreed. But in this case, he went out of his way to be offensive about it.

        It’s true that in “corporate” racing, such as practiced by Ferrari since about 1996, Nico would have been told that Lewis was ahead of him after the last round of pitstops, and Nico would have been given a set of prime tires and told to follow Lewis home. That would have been “safe” and “responsible”… and dull.

    3. +1

      I think there is enough working against Formula 1 that makes it boring, processional with a lack of healthy competition. The last thing we need is a steward saying that the only 2 championship contenders shouldn’t be racing wheel to wheel.

      This has got to be the stupidest statement I’ve ever heard from anyone

      1. Wonder will Derek Warwick think it’s “too dangerous” had Nico been the victor instead in Bahrain.
        You only have to see how eagerly he vouched for Nico’s “honesty” at Monaco.
        Just my opinion but i think Derek does have something against Lewis.
        Perhaps it’s to do that Lewis is a multi-race winner and champion while Warwick himself hasd a respectable but not stellar career.

    4. The man should just go away. I don’t know what he is still doing in F1. For someone who never won a single race and only made 4 podiums in 146 starts, it is no surprise he would preffer a processional race. It truly boggles the mind how he is allowed to make judgements on the actions of drivers like Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.
      This man should not be allowed near F1 anymore let alone decide who to be punished or not.
      Now we know Bahrain 2014 would never have happened if this man was anywhere near MercedesAmgF1.

    5. I guess he has never been to an Indy-Car or Nascar race.

      1. He was driving for Alfa Romeo in BTCC 1995 (“that’ll be six grand please, Derek!”) and Vauxhall in 1997-1998. Ironic, isn’t it..?

    6. Derek Warwick aka the greatest driver to NEVER win a race seems confused as I could not discern if it was because they are team mates or just because they were racing their heart out…… Thanks, Norris

  2. Derek Warwick, is that the same steward that officiated the Monaco and Spa races and failed to do anything on both occasion? Okay, i’ve heard you. Now, shut up and crawl back into the hole you came from.

    1. The driver steward at Spa was Emanuele Pirro.

      1. might well be the case but Warwick’s lack of action in Monaco was a disgrace and even worse still was his reasoning for not taking any action.

  3. What a load of rubbish.
    The publicity created by a collision would have been the Marketing’s teams dream, it was a win/win situation letting them go wheel to wheel.

    1. Not exactly. It could potentially have lost them 50 constructors points (not that they necessarily needed them) if they had crashed out.

      1. 43, not 50.

  4. Shows what’s wrong with the sport really, coming from one of the leading driver stewards… no don’t race just sit and look pretty for your sponsors. What a moron!

    1. Agree. I’m surprised the journalist didn’t burst out laughing when he said ‘think of the sponsors’ . How about ‘think of the essence of the sport’ instead?

      Warwick doesn’t sound like a racer at all. Publishing statements from clowns like him are only detrimental for the sport

      1. But at least we have a better idea how his mind works now. The problem with secret institutions is often that a veneer of professionalism simply masks amateurism, incompetence and worse (example: FIFA).

    2. Well to be honest there were a LOT of “paddock insiders” who voiced the exact same opinion last year – that is was stupid to let them race because of the risk involved. Actually I think there were quite a number of fans who also thought the same @addimaf1.

      We can be glad that Mercedes’ management did stick with what they promised and let their drivers race. And I would even think that had they not allowed it, it could have easily ended in acrimony as well, because surely either Nico or Lewis would have felt depraved of chances that way and might have got upset (not 2007 Alonso like but still).
      But its not long ago that a majority of both teams and fans more or less expected such behaviour – i.e. the team calling off inner team battles.

  5. What?! That battle was the best we’ve had in years! And it was dangerous?
    First, the Mercedes had all under control, the drivers and the team were 100% conscious of what they were doing.
    Second. The two drivers weren’t rookies and had plenty of experience driving, so a collision was not so possible in that moment.
    And third, like @pking008 said, in Monaco and Spa there were a lot of examples of bad driving and collisions, that Warwick doesn’t count on. (Raikkonen, Kobayashi in Monaco, Magnussen in Spa, and well, the Mercedes collision)

  6. Warwick needs to realise that the manufacturers are here as a marketing exercise and although winning is great, good press and providing the right image is more important. Ferrari are the opposite as they sell cars to go racing and put winning above all else but for the rest of the manufacturers and Red Bull F1 is a marketing platform and how they win/lose then becomes a factor.

    Besides, the drivers are supposedly suitably skilled to ensure the racing is safe, it’s why they’re given a superlicense.

  7. Please do not get me wrong, I disagree with Warwick on this one, but I feel when he uses the word “dangerous” here, he may not be referring to physical danger, but more a dangerous situation in terms of causing themselves problems. He knows full well the risks involved with racing and the very fact that Jules Bianchi’s accident was not caused by wheel to wheel racing goes to show motorsport is dangerous regardless of how many cars are fighting close to each other.

    Anyway as I said, I disagree with his remarks. As a big Mercedes fan that was easily my racing highlight of the season, I was literally on the edge of my seat cringing when they would touch. Whilst the possibility of one or both of them going out of the race would not have pleased the team (or me), it made for an exceptionally exciting end to the race. The publicity from that race would have very much pleased the sponsors and we all saw the Monaco and Belgium incidents replayed over and over, so as Sam Andrew said, it is win-win for them.

    Holding position is not racing, I know why teams do it, but I never agree.

    1. Agree with you, disagree with Warwick. I feel he’s definitely not talking about injuries or actual physical danger, more that it was dangerous for Mercedes… Which as you say is nonsense.

  8. Yes the drivers have a responsibility to the team and it’s sponsors…and in Mercedes’ case that responsibility is to go racing. The irresponsible thing to do is to forgo the hundreds of millions of paying (and paying ever more) audience by not allowing them to race and thus making the pinnacle of racing a sham.

    I know he says drivers should race but not take each other out and should sometimes back off…I think both Merc drivers get that…they know NR’s hit on LH was not without consequence and it didn’t happen again…and they have both been asked to back off in the past.

    It will be interesting to hear what has gone untold about Gilles that wasn’t told by Gerald Donaldson in his most excellent book on Gilles.

  9. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
    11th February 2015, 13:20

    It’s not stupid to allow your drivers to race, it shows respect for them. And, in a season where only two cars could win, it shows respect for the sport and its fans.

  10. Thank god Warwick wasn’t the steward at Bahrain.

      1. Classic. After writing that I kind of half expected it to be honest!

    1. @john-h I did point that out :-)

  11. I suppose Warwick therefore enjoyed the gloried parade Citroen hosted at the opening round of the WTCC at Marrakesh by not allowing Lopez, Muller and Loeb to race. Yet another ex-racing driver proving that their interpretation of modern motorsport is superficial and superfluous. Are you listening Jacques…

  12. ColdFly F1 (@)
    11th February 2015, 13:31

    Bahrein 2014?
    Is that the same race that got a 9.095 rating from us fans.

    How wrong were we!
    Warwick? Is that the same guy who came fourth on one of the most prestigious F1 ranking lists (being the only ranking he ever made).

    1. In fairness he should really be second on that list too, in any normal situation Brundle should have been a race winner as should Heidfeld.

      I mean if Brundle could beat Senna in F3, and Heidfeld could easily outperform Raikkonen then I really see no reason why not.

      1. And when exactly did Brundle beat Senna in F3?
        From what I heard, Senna demolished him

    2. Hm, let me be the devils advocate a bit here. Isn’t that rating exactly BECAUSE it was “dangerous” or maybe better said: a big risk to take with a lot at stake @coldfly. And its exactly what we as fans like to see. Because everyone could see the risk of things going wrong, which is what brings the excitement.

      Mercedes did prove with allowing it, that they could trust their drivers not to make a crucial mistake (at least at that point of the season), and it did the sport a huge favour, because without that we would have had quite a boring season!

      1. ColdFly F1 (@)
        12th February 2015, 9:26

        @bascb, I’m not sure if, or on what, we disagree regarding DW’s statements.

        However, to me I liked Bahrain because it was ‘good racing’. And dangerous (racing) is certainly not necessarily resulting in good racing (just have a look at some of the MAL/GRO/etc crashes (few years ago) – dangerous: yes; good racing: no)

        1. I don’t think we disagree, or not by much there :-)

          Dangerous as used in the way Warwick does – He does not seem to indicate it was physically dangerous to the drivers, or to anyone, just “dangerous” (risky) for the well being of the team. In other words, he thinks the team was taking too big a risk with the positions and points in hand.

          But for us, as fans, it was exactly the fact that there was someting at play/risk/danger of being lost that made it a great battle. Not a risk of injury but a risk of losing position, losing points and losing out against their main rivals. Which is exactly what racing should be.

  13. I’m completely perplexed. This tool Warwick must not know what “racing” actually means. Word “battle” is a synonym for “racing”, what the hell is this guy on about?

    I haven’t got a clue of how he came up with this utter nonsense.

  14. Absolutely absurd.

    The only dangerous battle at Bahrain last year was the one between Pastor Maldonado and Esteban Gutierrez.

    1. Exactly! Funny how he focused on Lewis and Nico instead. There is a difference between drivers who race and respect each other and drivers who don’t. No one is perfect all the time and mistakes do happen ie. Spa, but that risk is always there in every single overtake between any two drivers. It all depends whether the team trust their drivers to respect each other, which is what Mercedes felt. Thank God for their trust in both Lewis and Nico who raced safely, and gave us one of the most entertaining races I’ve seen.

      At least Warwick didn’t give them any penalties, well he couldn’t really because they didn’t do anything wrong..

  15. It’d take a foolish man to wade into this comments section with support for what Warwick has said, but then, I’ve never been known for my intelligence!

    I think he’s right to point out that Mercedes took a gamble on letting them fight. They must have been confident that the constructor’s title was going to be an easy fight. When it comes to weighing up your publicity angles, they obviously acknowledged that most fans (As demonstrated VERY clearly right here) want to see all of the cars allowed to race. They knew it was a risk worth taking and good publicity to be seen to allow their guys to race.

    That being said, if it was my team; no way. You’d be able to fight it out after lap one, then until the last pit stop, then you’d be told that your fight is over. And fighting this close would get both driver’s spoken to. You’re driving MY car, for MY team. Don’t like it? Find a new contract to sign.

    I love team orders they’re a major part of the sport. One of the reasons I love them? Well, because I love seeing them ignored even more than seeing them issued.

    “I was racing, I was faster, I passed him, I won.”

    The question for me is, if the field is closer this year, will Mercedes will be so happy to let their drivers go at it? Winning the title is more important than the publicity I think. And bad publicity (For not letting them fight) is still publicity. Just as is the publicity from letting them throw away a 1-2.

    1. I totally agree with you. Mercedes were sure that 2014 was gonna be their year and that they will win the constructor’s championship. That’s why they could afford to let both their drivers race each other.

      If their competitors closed the gap to a certain extent, so that they can challenge Mercedes, I am 100% sure they won’t let Nico & Lewis race. It would just be too much of a risk. Like you say, the championship is more important than publicity.

    2. And bad publicity (For not letting them fight) is still publicity. Just as is the publicity from letting them throw away a 1-2.

      Maybe in the short term, but if the racing is boring people will turn off in droves. Battles on track are exactly what F1 needs right now with it’s plummeting tv figures. Winning the championship doesn’t mean anything if no one is interested in the sport.

      1. @George

        “if the racing is boring people will turn off in droves. Battles on track are exactly what F1 needs right now with it’s plummeting tv figures. Winning the championship doesn’t mean anything if no one is interested in the sport.”

        Fair enough, but that’s not Mercedes concern, that’s for the governing body to address the glaring flaws in their fan-engagement policy.

        If Mercedes wanted to improve the racing on track last year, in the interests of increasing viewing figures, they could have turned their engines down at every Grand Prix.

    3. @gongtong, as you say, from the point of view of the team, having your drivers take each other out when there was an extremely easy win on the table would be a nightmare.

      I am extremely willing to bet that, had Rosberg and Hamilton collided in Bahrain, we would still be hearing people complain about the stupidity of the drivers and of the team in allowing an accident to happen, rather than hearing people celebrate the “racing spirit” of the team.

  16. too dangerous? um, is this not what racing is? I think that was the best race of the year to be honest…

    I must be missing something.

  17. Mercedes knew they were going to win the championship, what a fantastic position to be in, but how to stop it becoming a yawn-fest and losing the audience? Obviously, let them race. All the headlines they got from the aggro was gold dust, even the casual observer knew they were both driving a Mercedes and it was so fast it was a pure head-to-head.

    i wonder how many casual observers know Marc Marquez is a double MotoGP champ, even less will realise he rides a Honda.

    Warwick is soft in the head if he thinks Bahrain was potentially bad for Mercedes or any other aspect of F1

  18. I am embarrassed, embarrassed for this sport. What on earth is Derick Warrick talking about? I always disliked him and the passage of time hasn’t altered that, but Warwick is talking nonsense. The words of a very bitter and jealous middle aged man who never came close to a championship in F1, a total has-been wannabe who has achieved nothing in life outside of being a race official. The only thing Warrick ever did thirty years ago was either break down or crash, that’s it!
    Comparing Gilles Villeneuve’s death with last years Bahrain Gp defies logic? What is Warrick talking about?
    The Hamilton/Rosberg battle was a race between two professional racing drivers in two extremely good racing cars. We only HAD an interesting championship last year due to the on track rivalry between Hamilton and Rosberg. Villeneuve’s crash at Zolder 33 years ago was a tragic accident, and the events leading up to the crash was related to a feud between Gilles and Didier Pironi. However, Villeneuve like his peers knew the risks.
    Back in those days one could argue that the risks were far higher than they are now, yet that didn’t stop men
    like Gilles Villeneuve. Even Pironi paid the ultimate price three years later for playing the odds, killed when his
    powerboat flipped of the coast of the Isle Of Wight.

  19. Warwick saying team mates shouldn’t race exemplifies the biggest problem with F1 in this decade. The sport is being run as an advertising platform for big business, not as a service for the fans who watch it. If it wants to be a sport of the future, F1 needs to be run for the fans, not the sponcers. No wonder audiences are falling

  20. If that’s how he feels he is NOT to steward!!!!!!!! Take his sissy self to steward tennis or bowling.
    I have never trusted him and this explains it.

  21. By Warwick’s logic don’t do anything, because anything has potential dangers.

  22. If Hamilton & Rosberg battling it out in Bahrain was too dangerous, what about wheel to wheel racing between non-teammates, like Magnussen/Alonso at Spa or Vettel/Alonso at Silverstone? Does wheel to wheel racing become more dangerous when it’s between teammates?

    I think not, and that is why Warwick is speaking utter rubbish. If Bahrain was too dangerous, they only solution is to prohibit all racing, not only racing between teammates..

  23. Someone needs to send a simple memo to Mr Warwick, entitled “Formula 1 is a spectator sport”.

  24. Clive Allen (@clive-allen)