Former motorsport strategy director at Mercedes
, James Vowles
, revealed Lewis Hamilton
and Nico Rosberg
used to have a "rules of engagement" document.
James Vowles is a team principal of Williams
Racing now. However, he was a part of Mercedes in the years 2010-2022 and worked closely with all its drivers.
The 44-year-old revealed on a recent episode of High-Performance Podcast he created a document that detailed roles of engagement between their drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg ahead of the 2014 season.
"The biggest thing that we got into with the drivers in 2014, for example, was that both of them knew – both Nico and Lewis knew – that it was one of those two winning. They knew, by the way, before we turned the first wheel in the first race."
The 2014 season was the first year of the hybrid era, and the power units changed. This started Mercedes' dominance, and the team knew it had an advantage over its rivals.
Vowles also knew that Hamilton and Rosberg were rivals ever since they were kids and he anticipated some tense moments on track might arise. Therefore, he created a document that would outline how drivers should behave to mitigate the situation.
"My role in this was I constructed a document that created some very clear… how we were going to work with each other, and how we were going to fight each other – at the time, it was called the 'rules of engagement.'"
Some of the greatest rivalries in the history of F1
started between teammates who knew they had the dominant car and one of them would win the Championship. Vowles knew his drivers had to work like a team.
"It was some really clear boundaries on ‘This is how we’re going to behave and this is how we’re going to perform."
The Williams team principal explained the whole first page of the document was about sportsmanship. Driver can win a Championship, but if he does it in an unfair way, he will have regrets for the rest of his life.
"It was very much bringing them on that journey and making sure they’re aware that you can become the best sportsman in the world, which will create a legacy beyond many, many years."
The seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher's
reputation has been damaged ever since the 1997 Championship when he tried to win the title in the last race of the season by deliberately crashing into his rival Jacques Villeneuve.
That is something a sportsman can't erase from their past, and that is what Vowles tried to explain to the two young and hungry teammates who both strived for the title.
"Or you can win a race by doing something that has perhaps forced or hurt or damaged your teammate. Which one do you want to go down? It’s a very simple choice when you present it to a sportsman – ultimately, they want the one that creates the legacy for many years to come."
The 44-year-old stated both Mercedes drivers bought into the vision that he outlined, and for the most part, they didn't have any incidents on track for the following two seasons.
"They bought into it, and it created a good environment. It doesn’t mean that, in time, we didn’t have a breakdown."
However, as we know, Hamilton and Rosberg had an infamous incident during the 2016 season during the Spanish Grand Prix
where they put both of themselves out of the race.
"I mean, everyone will remember Barcelona 2016 [when the pair collided to throw away a potential 1-2], which still sticks in my mind today because you’re taking two of these sportsmen who were constrained within their boxes, and just got frustrated."
On the other hand, the former motorsport strategy director asserted this event only highlighted the point of his document as he added:
"But, actually, what you do at the time is you don’t back off, you double down and go, 'This is how it’s going to be.'"