Lewis Hamilton got strict rules to avoid ‘muddied’ reputation like Michael Schumacher | F1 | Sport

Former Mercedes chief strategist James Vowles has revealed that he put together a ‘rules of engagement’ document for Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in 2014, laying down the ground rules ahead of their intra-team title fight. This was done to avoid any chance of an incident similar to Michael Schumacher’s 1997 disqualification.

Schumacher has a reputation as one of the all-time F1 greats and stands alongside Hamilton as the only other seven-time world champion, but his reputation has been, for some, tarnished by his actions at the 1997 European Grand Prix.

The legendary German was wrapped up in a fierce title battle with Williams’ Jacques Villeneuve and held a one-point lead heading into the season finale. On lap 48 with his rival making a move for the lead around the outside, Schumacher turned in. The collision forced him to retire from the race, costing him the World Championship.

However, it also cost him his reputation in the eyes of many. Following an investigation from the FIA, Schumacher was disqualified from the 1997 World Championship and despite going on to win five more with Ferrari, that incident followed him until the end of his career.

According to Vowles, Mercedes were keen for their 2014 season not to end similarly. “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,” he told the High Performance podcast.

Vowels then went on to explain the ruleset that he drew up for Hamilton and Rosberg, explaining: “It was some really clear boundaries on ‘This is how we’re going to behave and this is how we’re going to perform’. There was a lot to do. And it started with this, and an an ethos that I believe in today. 

“The whole first page was about being a sportsman and, to explain that – you can win a world championship but, if you’ve done so in a way that is not fair and sportsmanlike, you will have regrets for the rest of your life. You have a championship to your name, but it’d be sullied, it’d be muddied, it won’t be pure.”

The former Mercedes strategist – now team principal at Williams – noted the role that the team’s former star driver played in drawing up these roles. “Michael [Schumacher], an incredible man, but still marred by 1997 in many regards,” he continued.

“It stands out in everyone’s mind. We created the mindset that that’s not how I want to be remembered, I want to be remembered that we were a dominant force working together.”

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