Through a series of strategic calls AMG Mercedes Petronas elected to gift Nico Rosberg victory around the Yas Marina Circuit.
In a move reminiscent of the 98-99 Mclaren Mercedes domination in which the car leading into the first corner of the first lap would win the race, Mercedes elected to move away from procedures applied since Bahrain 2014 where by driver s, when in a dominant position, would not be permitted to split strategy, it would appear that Nico Rosberg as the lead driver was not only awarded the optimal strategy for the race, but Lewis Hamilton was actively disadvantaged.
Through the opening stint of the race Nico Rosberg was able to open up a lead of almost 7 seconds over Lewis Hamilton. However Lewis was able to bring this gap down to within DRS detection as Nico stopped for the final time. Subsequent to Nico’s second stop, Lewis held an advantage slightly short of 22 seconds, the time required to make a pitstop. Had Mercedes chosen to apply protocol Lewis as the 2nd driver would have stopped within 1-2 laps, in so doing the cars would have run within 1 second of each other in the closing laps of the race.
However, Mercedes elected to extend Lewis’ middle stint despite him losing at times more than 1.5 seconds a lap to Nico. During this extended stint pitwall exchanges were broadcast in which Lewis and his engineer debated elected not to stop again and running the super softs for again, both options were dismissed by the team despite as unsafe despite Ferrari and Red Bull running longer final stints on the super soft and Nico Hulkenberg achieving a stint of 31 laps on the soft.
Once Lewis made his final pitstop of the 2015 season he set about trying to catch Nico Rosberg setting a series of consecutive fastest laps. Having halved the deficit with 5 laps remaining his pitwall instructed him to turn down engine performance. Lewis initially ignored this order, a decision the team responded to by instructing Nico to turn to a higher engine mode.
The rationale for decisions taken by the Mercedes pitwall today are unclear, fans were seemingly denied of the prospect of close racing in the final race of the year for a greater good determined by the team. As fans of racing, this decision is not an omen for how AMG Mercedes Petronas will approach 2016.