Open Letter to Mercedes

I’m not really sure why Mercedes felt compelled to address the ridiculous rantings on Twitter and other forms of social media regarding the struggles Lewis Hamilton has had so far in 2016 but they did. They penned an open letter to fans and attempted to offer insight to the Sochi weekend that may explain Lewis’s troubles, the team’s dedication to fixing the issues and for good measure, a story about Nico Rosberg’s troubles that seemed to be dire but still allowed him to win the race and set fastest lap.

I was very disappointed by the press after Sochi when they engaged in a Q&A session with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff asking questions like, “Do you feel you’re letting Lewis down? Have you apologized to Lewis? When will you apologize to Lewis?”. Seriously? You seriously feel compelled to ask these questions of the team? How Wolff kept a straight face and answered those is beyond me.

Now we have the team in either some sort of justification mode or worse, some sort of apologetic reasoning Lewis had troubles and how it was not a conspiracy or their fault. So the mobocracy on social media isn’t happy that Lewis isn’t winning and the team felt compelled to justify their actions?

Lewis knew exactly what he was doing when he dog-whistled the issue of five crew members swapping roles and how he is having trouble now. Lewis said:

“Particularly on my side of the garage they’re definitely having a hard time at the moment. “Since I joined I’ve had a group of guys, then for no particular reason it was swapped. “Those guys have come over and we’ve had some bad experiences, and for sure I can only imagine they are feeling the pressure, and it’s nothing to do with them, they’re doing a fantastic job”.

He had the dumb act going as if he had no clue why the team would move employees to different roles and responsibilities. He knew #TeamLH would pick up on this comment and it would fuel the conspiracy talk about how he gave the team two titles and now they determined it was Nico’s time. He didn’t stop there, he added:

“There are things that I’ve tried to understand and I’ve asked to be informed of what’s going on in the process,” he said. “For example after the last race I didn’t get an email of the report, so I didn’t actually know about that. Later on I got here and they said we should have emailed you. “Next week I’ll get all the information, and if it’s not sent to me, I’ll make sure I’ll get it. “Just because I want to be a part of the process, and there’s a lot of input I can have, and help. Ultimately we’re a team. We win and we lose together, so it’s about us pulling together.”

Perhaps, if you still want to win titles, you’d get your arse over to the factory and spend the next two weeks there involved and getting information and working with the team and in the simulator trying to pound out the challenges you may be having? Just a thought. I know Barbados is nice this time of year and the Festival of Speed at Bushy Park will be fun this week but perhaps you could spend a little time working with the team and perhaps then you wouldn’t be confused as to what they are doing? Just a thought.

I find the entire open letter and mobocracy an embarrassing knock-on effect of how people react to social media. I’m a fan of F1, perhaps more than your average fan, and Mercedes doesn’t owe me an explanation of why Lewis had issues in Sochi. That’s a team issue. I’m not a stakeholder or part of the team and if I didn’t think every person was there doing their very best to win races, I’d think they really had no reason to be in F1.

Mercedes has set themselves up for this, mark my word. Most people usually ignore the silly conspiracy nonsense and outrage culture the mobocracy gins up on social media. They have chosen to engage in it and the tail is now wagging the dog. They have opened themselves up as answerable to the mob and have sunk to new lows in which they’ve taken time out of their program to address some silly accusation in social media circles.

Why would a team of like Mercedes feel compelled to address something like this? It isn’t like the new qualifying format where every F1 fan clearly could see the ridiculous situation and were calling for its removal. This is a group of Lewis fans who are not happy he isn’t winning and are conjuring up reasons for it so they can justify their frustration. One thing Mercedes should know by now is that social media, overwhelmingly, caters to the least common denominator of human behavior and nature and it isn’t pretty. To be honest, it’s become rather tedious, boring and childish to be honest.

When we were young, we often thought that becoming an adult would be a momentous occasion and that the adult world was organized, structured and fit for purpose. Social media has become a tool to prevent that from being a reality. Mercedes should stop slumming in the bowls of dodgy human outrage, mobocracy and mind-numbing ass hattery and start being the F1 team fit for purpose and focused on winning. If Lewis has mechanical issues, then address them and move on.

For Lewis? He needs to stop dog-whistling nefarious conspiracies that are preventing him from winning due to mechanical issues etc. If Mercedes felt compelled to write a letter, it should have been a letter to Lewis saying STFU and get your arse back to the office with a spanner or two and get to work. You can start by getting int he Sim and improving your launch control.

Mercedes Open Letter:

To the fans,

We returned from Russia on Monday with mixed emotions. On the one side, filled with pride at another one-two finish – a rare achievement in the ultra-competitive world of Formula One and something to be savoured but never taken lightly. On the other, pained by a stressful weekend – both behind the wheel, on the pit wall, in the garage, back at the factories and for all of you watching at home.

We have seen a lot of frustration aired online after the mechanical issues experienced in Sochi. We share those same emotions – but for us, it goes far beyond frustration. For those watching at home, a Grand Prix weekend starts on a Thursday morning and ends on Sunday night. A bad result might hurt for a few hours afterwards – but then life moves on. For more than one thousand people at Brackley and Brixworth, however, this is our life. These men and women pour their blood, sweat and tears into racing, day in, day out – often working around the clock and spending weeks at a time away from loved ones. They do so through passion for their work, loyalty to their team-mates and a desire to be the best.

The success we have enjoyed in recent times has not come about by accident. To paraphrase Mr Toto Wolff, we have worked our a**es off to get where we are today – and we have done so as a team. The faces you see at the track are only the tip of the iceberg – but they are a perfect example of just what this represents. They don’t just perform pit-stops together. They travel, share rooms, eat meals, construct garages, build cars, re-build broken cars, kit spares and pack down tonnes of freight – together. They sweat, strain, laugh, cry, shout, scream, celebrate, and commiserate – together. And, as one of our own often says, they win and lose – together. We have the best guys and girls in the world, doing an awesome job, week in and week out – and they do it for the team. Not for one driver or the other – but for each other. There is no ‘A’ or ‘B’ team here. Every single member of the crew has earned their right to be counted among the elite of their trade – and have sacrificed much to do so.

What happened in Sochi showed the world just what a team working in unison is capable of. We were baffled and gutted by the repeat MGU-H failure on Lewis’ car in qualifying. But we kept calm, gathered our thoughts and sprung into action. It took a monumental effort from a significant number of people back in the UK and in Russia to fly spare parts out to the track, fit them to the spare Power Unit by working through the night and make sure Lewis could start from P10 on Sunday without having broken parc fermé. This made Sunday all the more stressful for each of us. But, in the end, we were relieved just to get both cars to the flag.

Shortly after his pit stop, we saw some alarming behaviour from Nico’s MGU-K. We spent a number of laps reassuring him that he had a good gap over Lewis and could ease off before the FIA gave us the all-clear to tell him to switch to a setting that would control the issue. At the wheel, Nico wouldn’t have had any inkling of the stress on the pit-wall. When he put in the fastest lap on the penultimate lap of the race, he was still in that ‘safe’ setting – demonstrating just how much pace the car had last weekend.

Not long after Nico’s issue arose, we started to see the water pressure falling on Lewis’ car. At the time, he was pushing hard to catch Nico and pull away from Kimi – posting several purple lap times in the process. Again, we needed to await confirmation from the FIA of what we could tell him via the radio. After several calls asking him to take it easy, the all-clear came to let him know that he was losing water pressure. With zero – yes, zero! – water pressure remaining for the last 16 laps, the job he did to nurse the car home and still retain second place was truly remarkable. He had to keep the car as cool as possible to avoid damaging the engine whilst also keeping Kimi at a safe distance, which was no mean feat. We genuinely aren’t sure by what miracle the car limped across the line – but we’re certainly not going to complain!

Ultimately, none of this changes the fact that we have not met our own expectations in terms of reliability so far this season. Performance-wise we are right on the money – with a points haul just two shy of what we had managed by the same stage in 2015. But there is work to be done. Our goal is not simply to be fast but bulletproof too. Not just to manage problems but to understand them, fix them and ensure they are not repeated. We are working tirelessly to do just that and will continue to do so every step of the way. But there are no guarantees. This is a mechanical sport, balancing on the knife edge of performance and endurance. You have to push the boundaries and failures can happen.

And then, there’s the bigger picture. Here we sit, picking apart a weekend of various challenges – both on and off track. But look at the result. We should not simply be grateful to see both cars crossed the line but proud and humbled after a team result which quite literally could not have been stronger, thanks to the amazing efforts of the guys and girls in the factories, in the engineering offices, on the pit wall, in the garage and, of course, in the cockpit.

So, four races down, 17 to go. And, from what we’ve seen so far, it’s going to be one heck of a rollercoaster. There will be highs and lows, good day and bad days, successes and defeats. But, through all of this, we stand united as a team – just as we always have. To those who stand with us, we thank you. And to the rest – the haters, the naysayers, the conspirators… if we can convince even half of you of what we really stand for, we’ll consider that a battle well won.