Jackie Stewart is a three-time Formula 1 champion.PHOTO BY LAT PHOTOGRAPHIC
Jackie Stewart says Lewis Hamilton is a “little ballerina,” and the three-time F1 champion calls for Mercedes to punish Hamilton following his behavior during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Stewart would like to see Hamilton taken to task for putting himself ahead of his Mercedes team in the championship-deciding Grand Prix last weekend. Hamilton received multiple radio transmissions from the team instructing him to pick up the pace but, despite the clear instructions he was being given, he continued to back Nico Rosberg into traffic in a desperate bid to recapture the title for himself.
“I think (Hamilton) can be a little ballerina,” said Stewart in an interview with Press Association in Europe. “Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda are not stupid people, and neither is the Mercedes chairman who often comes to Grands Prix. You cannot threaten a multinational corporation of that size by one man who is just not doing it the right way. Give him the option of ‘either do it our way or you have to be excused.’
“Lewis was refusing their instructions, and he was going against the management team. Now, I am sorry, but when you are paid between 20 and 30 million pounds a year and you are told to do something, you have got to do it. I don’t care who you are.”
Hamilton’s on-track tactics have been met with mixed reactions both in the paddock and on social media, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel labeling them as “dirty tactics,” while Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has defended the British driver.
Something that may go against Hamilton if the German manufacturer does look at punishing him is his history of ignoring team orders — failing to allow Rosberg, who was on a different strategy, to pass in the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix and openly questioning the team during the 2015 Mexican Grand Prix when his strategy was altered, latterly admitting he considered ignoring the call to pit.
“It is not the first time he has gone against instructions, and if he is going to continue to do that they have the choice of dropping him. He only does 21 races a year. It is no big deal. We worked our asses off (in the old days) to make decent money, and they don’t even do much testing now.
“Mercedes may just give him another heavy warning, but if they do that they would then have to say, ‘This is what is going to happen the next time you disobey orders.’ Another way would be to penalize him financially.”