Uncovered: The Lewis Hamilton v Nico Rosberg ‘rules of engagement’ document details


Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg bought into rules of engagement drawn up by James Vowles during his time at Mercedes.

Williams’ team boss James Vowles has opened up on the rules of engagement that bound Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg during their epic rivalry at Mercedes.

Now the team boss of Williams after jumping ship from his strategy role with Mercedes after 2022, James Vowles spent the entirety of his career prior to Grove racing with the Brackley-based outfit through their guises as BAR, Honda, Brawn and, eventually, Mercedes.

As chief strategist and, later, strategy director, Vowles proved hugely valuable in his contributions to the multiple titles won by Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg between 2014 and 2020.

At the start of 2014, Mercedes found themselves in a dominant position as their car and power unit proved to have no equal – something the team learned early enough to the point that Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg knew they would be fighting each other for the title.

While their friendship was stretched past breaking point over the course of the next three years, their head-to-head battles started in quite amicable fashion – partly due to Vowles’ input in drafting up some rules on how the pair should go about racing each other.

“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.

“They knew, by the way, before we turned the first wheel in the first race.

“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, but changed later to another term that was less military, but racing intense.

“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 like, you will have regrets for the rest of your life.



Gideon Canice

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