‘Never a good answer’ to Driver Swapping, says Paddy Lowe


Mercedes switched their drivers twice during the Hungarian Grand Prix - Credit: Wolfgang Wilhelm

Paddy Lowe admits that switching drivers around on track, like the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team did during the Hungarian Grand Prix, can have mixed up consequences in the future.

Lewis Hamilton allowed Valtteri Bottas to re-pass him at the final corner on the final lap having earlier been allowed through by the Finn, with the initial move to try and get the Briton to attack the two Scuderia Ferrari drivers up front.

With no move forthcoming, Hamilton kept to his side of the bargain to drop behind his team-mate back into fourth, but it did see him drop three further points behind Sebastian Vettel in the Drivers’ Championship.

Lowe, who switched from Mercedes to join the Williams Martini Racing team as Chief Technical Officer at the beginning of the season, admits that the consequences could be big for both Hamilton and Mercedes later in the season.

“There’s never a good answer to that one,” said Lowe on crash.net. “In any team, you want to keep it clear to both drivers that they have the opportunity to win the championship. That keeps them motivated in their own right to win races, which is what you need for the team result.

“The worst example of that was 2007 at McLaren where we had two drivers who missed the drivers’ championship by one point. It doesn’t get worse than that.”

Lowe believes that Hamilton will be remembered for the gentlemanly gesture in allowing Bottas through, and compared the move to what someone like the legendary Stirling Moss would have done during the early years of the sport.

“I think in the end it’s about how you do it, not what you do. I think drivers get remembered for the way they perform as sportsmen and not necessarily their absolute results,” said Lowe.

“I think that’s a good bit of thinking for any race driver or any sportsman at all actually. And we can pick out examples in this sport.

“There are many drivers who we consider greats that didn’t win that many races or championships, and that’s because of the way they behaved. Stirling Moss is an example of that.

“I think that’s the right line in the end if you’re trying to make the right judgement about these things.”

  • Anthony Jenkins

    Well put. There are Championships won, and Championships won with class. It depends on one’s mentality. To me Senna, though his speed and talent could have won, regardless, chose to win at any cost. Schumacher too. I don’t rate them as highly as others who won less often, but won with class.