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Why F1 team mates have to share data – Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton move to clarify comments

Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton have clarified their positions on Formula 1 data sharing after the triple world champion threatened to kick off the new...

Why F1 team mates have to share data – Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton move to clarify comments
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Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton have clarified their positions on Formula 1 data sharing after the triple world champion threatened to kick off the new season and the relationship with his new team mate with a polemic, suggesting he would like to stop sharing data.

Following Hamilton’s appearance at a sponsor event where he said, amongst other lines, “I don't feel it's fair that he brings his A-game and I should be able to study his A-game on a computer,” Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff explained that the British driver’s remarks had been misinterpreted.

Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport, Wolff said: “I spoke with Lewis and [he] was misinterpreted. To a question about what he would do to improve the show, he replied that the ideal [situation] would be not to reveal the data of teammates. [In] modern F1 [this is] unenforceable because only in this way, by exchanging the information, can we develop the machines.”

Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton had already issued his own clarification about the remarks and explained that his point about data sharing was meant to be a comment on how he would improve F1 in general and was not an attempt to hurt the progress of his new teammate Valtteri Bottas, whom Mercedes signed to replace Nico Rosberg at the Brackley-based team for 2017.

Writing on Twitter, Hamilton said: “I wish to clarify, I have not hit out at my team at all. My point on data sharing is solely my feelings about the sport in general

“It has been my feeling since the day I started F1 and still is 10 years later. There is zero problems in my team, zero problems with Bottas.”

Valtteri Bottas

There have been occasional examples of teammates refusing to work together and share information in F1’s history – notably Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost at McLaren, and Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet at Williams in the late 1980s – but today with infinitely more data available and with it being far more central to how an F1 team operates, it is now de rigeur to share data across both sides of the garage.

It is a mistake to read too much into this episode, but it is arguably one of the small aftershocks from the end of last season and Hamilton's unhappiness at being instructed to speed up in the final laps, which cost him any chance to change the destiny of the championship. He and Wolff have spoken, but with his friend-come-nemesis Nico Rosberg gone, Hamilton will expect to be very much the top dog in the Mercedes team.

Hamilton’s thoughts on data sharing also covered young drivers entering F1 and using existing data to get up to speed; a practice the 32-year-old says he does not agree with.

Here he has a slightly selective memory as when Hamilton graduated to F1 in 2007 with McLaren F1 team he was able to benefit greatly from seeing data such as racing lines, braking points and steering inputs world champion team mate Fernando Alonso was collecting in the sister car.

But the impression from his statements was that he now feels drivers should explore the limits of the cars and keep the results to themselves.

Hamilton Alonso 2007

He said: "They should be able to go out there on their own and find it all themselves, without you. You could take a young kid from Formula 3, have them just go on a simulator and drive every single day and try and get to my lines. And eventually they'd probably get to my lines.

"He should have to discover that himself. You've got to find the limit yourself, that's the whole challenge of being a racing driver. When I get in this new car it's seeing what the limit of it is. If I can't do it on my own then I'm not good enough and I don't deserve to be there. And there are some drivers that don't."

What do you make of Hamilton’s remarks? Should F1 drivers share data with their teammates? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JA on F1 Facebook page for more discussion.
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