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#1 Jackman

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 17:59

I was talking to a colleague at work today about the Hamilton decision: he is quite interested in racing, but couldn't understand one aspect of the whole thing. "Why are McLaren so bad at PR?" he asked. "They're a huge team, and they used to be really good at getting good publicity: hell, I was a huge McLaren fan, but I just don't know what to think of them anymore. Hell, even Ferrari seem better at PR than McLaren now..."

It's an interesting question: they do seem to have dropped the ball in the last year or so, and I think my colleague's view seems to be reflected in the paddock, and in general. Leave aside the golden Senna/Hakkinen/Prost/Lauda days, even the relatively good Raikkonen/Montoya/Coulthard period would be a marked improvement on their public appearance.

So is my colleague wrong, or have McLaren forgotten how to appeal to the public?

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#2 UPRC

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 18:01

You're not wrong at all. I sometimes wonder if this has anything to do with Matt Bishop's job performance or not.

#3 Anomnader

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 18:01

Theres 20 other threads below, is this really an important enough question that it requires a thread of its own :rolleyes:

#4 Enkei

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 18:04

I agree that their PR has been awful the last 2 years. Just take Red Bull as an example, that's what I call good PR.
Don't cover up your mistakes, but admit them and try to do better next time. Be honest and open to your fans.
It will do much better for your image than be proven wrong afterwards every time.

#5 BuonoBruttoCattivo

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 18:10

McLaren has excellent marketing prowess...PR is part of marketing in this day and age, they make mistakes when the situation is not in their control as far as PR is concerned i suppose...

Anyways, the first step in good PR is Macca distancing from that lying, grotesque megalomaniac that is Ron Dennis, yet on the grid interview in Australia, that clown JUST couldn't help reasserting his dominance over the organization and how he is still really in control. Astonishing and sad...

#6 PassWind

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 18:14

Originally posted by Anomnader
Theres 20 other threads below, is this really an important enough question that it requires a thread of its own :rolleyes:


Yes because the others are full of gaff and this topic which I think is a good one can be if all goes well be a decent generic topic about PR management within F1. There is so much ammo for this that I fear it will quickly fall into a Max the Nazi, Bernie the lonely lying poison dwarf, or McLaren the evil empire or Rebels if you cling to the Max the Nazi theory.

I think in the corporate world McLaren do a very good job and have a wonderful sense of what it is they do, for the daily operations side of the house, it clearly needs some work. Of course do the right thing and you need not worry about managing short term bad PR, but when it starts to become synonymous with your image it really does need some time invested, first as to the cause, then the effect. Secondly fix the cause and shape the effect by doing things that are actively in counter to the perception, to a point where the image of the company in daily operations matched their corporate image.

#7 le chat noir

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 18:27

mclaren pr has been awful since the bish. since before he started indeed. but prior to his employment, while not exemplary, there were fewer gaffes.

answer: don't get f1 hacks to do f1 pr

#8 Dragonfly

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 18:34

Who is the chief PR man currently at McLaren?

#9 UPRC

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 18:35

Originally posted by Dragonfly
Who is the chief PR man currently at McLaren?

Isn't it Matt Bishop?

#10 primer

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 18:39

Originally posted by Jackman
So is my colleague wrong, or have McLaren forgotten how to appeal to the public?


Oh please. What can PR do when your team boss Martin Whitmarsh is himself caught telling lies to media? What can PR do when the 'star driver' is caught lying to stewards?

Mclaren have made a series of bad, unethical decisions. All to cover up an error on pitwall.

#11 giacomo

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 18:42

The best PR department in the world would not be able to spin systematic lying into something positive and admirable.

#12 bankoq

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 18:54

Originally posted by Enkei
I agree that their PR has been awful the last 2 years. Just take Red Bull as an example, that's what I call good PR.
Don't cover up your mistakes, but admit them and try to do better next time. Be honest and open to your fans.


Yes, covering own mistakes and twisting obvious situations is what struck me most in McLaren PR style. You could find inaccuracies in what drivers had to say, and what was said by team owners almost after every race! I hope they will change in that aspect.

#13 Dragonfly

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 18:59

Originally posted by UPRC

Isn't it Matt Bishop?

We have a winner! :)
I think your answer has a more global scope than just an answer to my question.

#14 Blythy

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 19:04

Matt bishop started fcking things up before he even joined mclaren.

This wasn't a pr thing though. It sounds like it was just one man making a bad decision(Ryan), another following(Hammy babes). And then someone (MW) acting on the information that they knew and what they didn't.

If you replace Ryan with Ollie, Lewis with Hugh, and Whitmarsh with Malcolm, you have an episode of the thick of it.

#15 VoidNT

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 19:09

I think the central part of the problem is Ron Dennis. But not in a sense that he's a 'grotesque megalomaniac' though. :lol:

Dennis was quite good at determining the team's public relations policy, and that's one of the reasons why he was such a successful team manager in F1 history. When you are in such position in F1, you often need to hide the truth (or part of the truth) without actually lying - so the famous Ronspeak was developed. But times change, Ron gets old, team gets bigger and the management process becomes more complicated. Of course each manager in the team tries to copy Dennises approach, but no one is as good at Ronspeak as Ron himself. When Ron was finally gone in 2009, and half-gone in latest years, and with more people involved in a management process as operation gets bigger, the quality of team's rhetorics built upon Ron's successful approach inevitably came down: now instead of one great Ron they have a number of people trying to copy Dennis and speaking their poor version of Ronspeak.

And the problem with Ronspeak is when your perform it poorly you will appear stupid, lying, dishonest, shortsighted and so on - exactly what happens to McLaren nowadays.

#16 erpetao

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 19:12

Guys remember that PR is how Propaganda was renamed after the war.

Rather than trying to get better propaganda to cover their lies and cheats, they should start playing clean. That's the only way forward.

#17 HoldenRT

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 19:13

Originally posted by Enkei
I agree that their PR has been awful the last 2 years. Just take Red Bull as an example, that's what I call good PR.
Don't cover up your mistakes, but admit them and try to do better next time. Be honest and open to your fans.
It will do much better for your image than be proven wrong afterwards every time.

I agree but RBR's race previews really frustrate me. Some are funny but some are just silly. One could only imagine going into the final race of a championship fight, and the race preview.. "here are some fart jokes about Brazilians".

#18 primer

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 19:15

Originally posted by le chat noir
answer: don't get f1 hacks to do f1 pr


I don't care for Bishop, but how could anyone else have done a better job? Even if Matt tried...


M. Bishop: "Listen Martin, we really shouldn't be lying. Let us admit the truth immediately."

M. Whitmarsh: "Fatty, how long will it take you to find a new job if I fired you 'immediately'?"

M. Bishop: "Obviously we are not lying, this is just a perception. I'll assemble the media contingent, and you should defend our innocence in this matter most vehemently."

#19 bugmenot

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 19:28

Pathetic how McLaren once again singled out one guy to keep the shit from sticking all over the team. They did it with Coughlan as well during spygate. :rolleyes:

Ryan told Lewis to lie. Lewis agreed but now says he already knew it was wrong when he agreed to do it. So why did you do it, Lewis? :drunk:

Ryan gets suspended by McLaren, Lewis is not... :confused:

Hypocrites!

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#20 primer

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 19:35

Originally posted by bugmenot
Ryan gets suspended by McLaren, Lewis is not... :confused:

Hypocrites!


Naah, Lewis was just following the orders. Ryan and Whitmarsh got to decide which way they were playing this, Lewis just followed their lead. Lewis is this innocent, naive, will-do-anything-for-the-team guy.

Oh, and the fact that a suitable Lewis Hamilton replacement is about 100 times more difficult to find than a bumbling, lying sporting director.

#21 wewantourdarbyback

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 19:38

They try too hard to manage every situation, it seems they 'over PR' everything which ruins whatever they are trying to do right. They try to use PR to put themselves in a better situation which almost invariably ends with them shooting themselves in the foot.

#22 Jackman

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 21:35

Originally posted by Enkei
I agree that their PR has been awful the last 2 years. Just take Red Bull as an example, that's what I call good PR.
Don't cover up your mistakes, but admit them and try to do better next time. Be honest and open to your fans.
It will do much better for your image than be proven wrong afterwards every time.

I think you're right: Red Bull have done an amazing job with their PR over the last couple of years, and even though they've cut their spend to the bone this year they are still seen in the same positive light, whereas McLaren now have a perception of being unable to put out a straight message.

It's a surprising thing really:as other have noted, McLaren hired Matt Bishop to head up their PR department, and he brought Steve Cooper along with him, and you would think they would know what journalists are looking for and would be able to give them what they need. In comparison, Ferrari put their webmaster Luca Calajanni in charge of press relations a few years ago, and the general feeling was that they wanted to keep the (English speaking) press at arms length, and yet which team has a better public image these days?

This isn't aimed at the latest problem in particular, as I don't see that we need yet another thread of mindless bashing of the team, but rather a more general view that they seem to be struggling in an area where, as noted by others, they used to excel.

#23 Buttoneer

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 21:45

Originally posted by Jackman

It's an interesting question: they do seem to have dropped the ball in the last year or so,

Much further back than that. Probably back to the 'Boom' years with Kimi exploding his engine. The 'one year' limitation almost tries to bring it down to a Bishop issue but they've been rubbish for longer than that.

#24 alfa1

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 00:11

One of the biggest mistakes that they made was not going back in to see the stewards after news came out that Trulli had been punished.
By sitting back and letting an innocent man be crucified, they (in the long run) crucified themselves.

They should have gone back to the stewards right there and then and had it sorted out as just a terrible mistake, than nobody was actually trying to cheat or take advantage, and it just came as an unfortunate situation caused by Race Control being a bit busy with other things going on and we should treat this as an opportunity to make new procedures to clarify things for the future.

#25 chrcoluk

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 01:41

How do you get good PR when you get picked on by the FIA tho?

#26 paulm

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 01:55

Originally posted by alfa1
One of the biggest mistakes that they made was not going back in to see the stewards after news came out that Trulli had been punished.

I don't disagree from a sporting perspective.

From a procedural one it's likely they thought it wouldn't help, after all it's been made extremely clear that such penalties aren't appealable once they've been awarded.

As it happens though that doesn't quite seem to be true and the FIA can change their mind if they like.

#27 stevvy1986

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 01:57

Originally posted by chrcoluk
How do you get good PR when you get picked on by the FIA tho?


how do you get good PR when you lie?

#28 chrcoluk

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 02:03

Originally posted by stevvy1986


how do you get good PR when you lie?


dunno ask all the other teams.

I will put it to you every single team in the sport lies, you delusional if you think otherwise.

Only kids think the world is a good place and noone lies.

#29 stevvy1986

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 02:06

i never said i don't think every other team in the sport lies (i actually voted in your poll that every team lies, but mclaren get caught more)

#30 chrcoluk

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 02:21

well you coming to some sense now.

As far as mclaren are concerned they obviously do need to make sure they dont cheat/lie etc because it is very evident the FIA are looking to punish them whenever possible.

But some fans thinking mclaren are the only ones lying need a wake up call.

I watched F1 a decade ago and it was nothing like this.

#31 stevvy1986

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 02:25

i had sense beforehand-what i was referring to was if you lie and don't get caught, you'll likely still get good PR as nobody will know you lied, you haven't been exposed as lieing in public, so your PR won't suffer, whereas if you lie and do get caught, and are exposed in public, then clearly your PR will suffer badly

#32 ForeverF1

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 02:29

Originally posted by chrcoluk


dunno ask all the other teams.

I will put it to you every single team in the sport lies, you delusional if you think otherwise.

Only kids think the world is a good place and noone lies.


Agree with that fully.

All PR people and advertising people lie through their teeth all the time, it is accepted in the real world.

Show me a person who says they have never, ever, told a lie and I will show you a liar!

The majority of this has been blown out of all proportion by the media (who tell a few lies themselves) just to get headlines and sell a few more papers/hits on their web sites.

Some of the people on this BB who have taken the moral high ground make me wonder if they are the paragons of virtue which they allure to, or, are they in fact, covering their own lack of morals.

This is, of course, only MHO.

#33 umapathypon

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 02:42

As several people have pointed out already,this isn't really a PR failure.This is a systemic management failure within the team where they have allowed people to push the boundaries a little too much.Nothing much the PR can do to gloss over the fallout from these big screwups.

#34 KAus

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 02:43

Bit O/T but Red Bull would be better if they could put Marko back into his box.

Re: McLaren. It's like they have done a complete swap with the 'old' Ferrari. I was sick of their constant BS even before this latest episode. It's pretty bad when the least amount of BS is coming from Haug ;)

Don't even get me started on Matt Bishop (although I don't think there was much he could do about this one)...

#35 HP

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 05:54

McLaren PR used to be funny.

It still amuses me when in 2001 after a poor start into the season, with a lot of mechanical troubles, Ron Dennis proudly announced that they finally have gotten over their reliability problems. The race result was that Mika and DC both retired in that race with a mechanical problem. Priceless.

May sound a bit weird, but IMO it turned bad when DC left the team. And no, I'm not a DC fanboy at all. Quiet to the contrary. But DC was his salary worth alone for the PR. And DC is still with Red Bull now.

#36 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 06:23

I think it's a combination of trying too hard to have everything perfect and rushing out responses for the sake of having one instead of being methodical, and basically having a crap communications department. These aren't racing problems, these are image problems. They need professionals.

#37 tormave

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 07:50

Originally posted by stevvy1986
how do you get good PR when you lie?

Lying (or being economical with truthful facts) is not the problem at all here. Any business has to cover some aspects of their operations because of trade secrets, NDAs, etc. all the time. Everybody does it and has to. McLaren seems to have developed a habid of not telling the truth when evidence to the contrary is there for all to see. Furthermore, when Hamilton or Whitmarsh lies they involuntarily give so obvious tells so that 10-year old can see they're not telling the truth.

Fundamentally I think it's a management problem. They are a big organization with a set of values, that their top management in recent years clearly have gone against. This will always lead to confusion in all levels of an organization. Even when they had a bad car year some years ago I'd thought they'd been the last team on the grid to try to get opponents deceitfully penalized to gain positions. Obviously that is no longer the case.

#38 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 07:53

To be fair I'm not sure they've ever had good PR. Good sponsorship activations, yes; but any time in the last 10 years they've had problems their handling of them and explanations has been unbelievable at best. The difference now is there problems are much bigger and more serious than engine failures and slow cars.

#39 Buttoneer

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 07:57

Renaults PR seems so open and honest and (regardless of whether it actually is or not) they're attracting traffic to their site and fans as a result. McLaren would do well to learn from them. More importantly, by being open and honest and providing insight they might actually have a chance of pulling back some of the fans and sponsors that will be wavering as a result of recent events.

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#40 Anomnader

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 08:02

Originally posted by KAus
Bit O/T but Red Bull would be better if they could put Marko back into his box.

Re: McLaren. It's like they have done a complete swap with the 'old' Ferrari. I was sick of their constant BS even before this latest episode. It's pretty bad when the least amount of BS is coming from Haug ;)

Don't even get me started on Matt Bishop (although I don't think there was much he could do about this one)...



I like Haug, I would like him to be involved more on the McLaren side, I think a big plus of mercedes ever getting more shares would that Haug would gain more power.

#41 Der Pate

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 08:36

Originally posted by Anomnader



I like Haug, I would like him to be involved more on the McLaren side, I think a big plus of mercedes ever getting more shares would that Haug would gain more power.


Huag is a great PR-man...but I really donĀ“t know, how he would be as manager...in fact he represents the image of the real Mercedes-driver... :rotfl:

#42 alfista

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 13:02

Originally posted by Buttoneer
Renaults PR seems so open and honest and (regardless of whether it actually is or not) they're attracting traffic to their site and fans as a result. McLaren would do well to learn from them. More importantly, by being open and honest and providing insight they might actually have a chance of pulling back some of the fans and sponsors that will be wavering as a result of recent events.


As a journalist I have noticed that McLaren press images from races never feature even the shadow of any other cars bar McLaren. And I mean NEVER. Even if McL overtook somebody for the win in the most dramatic fashion. I would classify those photos as RonPhotos.
Ferrari by contrast published an image with their most embarrassing moment of last season - mechanics carrying fuel hose on the pitlane in Singapore. McL nowadays is like Ferrari at the peak of Todt era: WE, WE, WE and we don't care about the rest. They tend to forget that to be victorious you must have opponents. And the more credit you give to them the better you can show yourself.

#43 taran

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 14:52

Originally posted by Anomnader



I like Haug, I would like him to be involved more on the McLaren side, I think a big plus of mercedes ever getting more shares would that Haug would gain more power.


You are quite right in this regard. Mercedes is often more open about what is going on at McLaren than McLaren is. Just compare German F1 sites with British ones like Autosport.

Haug was already telling German sites about McLaren's problems with the 2009 car and the expectation it would not be quickly fixed while McLaren was still denying they had a problem with the car.

In a way, it seems to me that McLaren is always trying "damage control" in that they try to spin everything in a way that they still look perfect (a.k.a. team perfect). They simply seem unable to admit to any fault. When the car is slow its not slow but has a perfomance shortfall.... Even when the truth of something (blown engine, corruption and cheating in the organization, lying to stewards) is glaringly obvious, they still try to make it look good. Which opens them up to public ridicule. Hamilton's press performance (orchistrated by McLaren) is a case in point. He lied (at the behest of Ryan) but claims he isn't a liar but was given bad advice and as a team player he took it....So what part of lying don't you understand, Lewis?

And naturally this backfires.....Compare McLaren's press/pr operation with Renault's. Or Williams'.
If those teams are in trouble, they usually admit to it, try to say what they think the problem is and how they hope to fix it.

McLaren has been (re)created in Dennis' image in every way so it is his fault. Dennis is someone who does not easily admit to a mistake, is rather lacking in humour and humility and wouldn't be able to take an outside view of anything. Which sounds exactly like the problems facing the McLaren pr department......

#44 Kelateboy

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 16:06

Originally posted by bugmenot
Pathetic how McLaren once again singled out one guy to keep the shit from sticking all over the team. They did it with Coughlan as well during spygate. :rolleyes:

Ryan told Lewis to lie. Lewis agreed but now says he already knew it was wrong when he agreed to do it. So why did you do it, Lewis? :drunk:

Ryan gets suspended by McLaren, Lewis is not... :confused:

Hypocrites!

Lewis is a star driver. If McLaren does not want him, there are other teams willing to hire his services.

Lewis is indispensable; Dave Ryan is not.

-KB

#45 kar

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 16:48

Also, if a person in authority tells you to do something, most people will comply.

Stanley Milgram's experiments in the 60s went a long way to demonstrate just how obedient people will be even if they question what they are obeying.

I'm not usually of a mind to give Hamilton a pass - but here I don't blame him too much.

#46 alfista

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 17:03

Originally posted by kar
Also, if a person in authority tells you to do something, most people will comply.

Stanley Milgram's experiments in the 60s went a long way to demonstrate just how obedient people will be even if they question what they are obeying.

I'm not usually of a mind to give Hamilton a pass - but here I don't blame him too much.


This time Lewis really seems like a victim of McLaren steamroller. But guess which team under whose guidance has nurtured him for umpteen years? Lewis has been drinking, eating and breathing McLaren for most of his life and thus MUST be thinking in McLaren's way. If not, well, Ron has wasted his bucks.

#47 alfista

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 19:14

What do you think about press-releases like this?
Posted Image

#48 pRy

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 21:23

They're trying too hard in all departments.. I think that is part of their problem. They are always trying to meet this impossible to reach standard set for them.

#49 fed up

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 21:36

A lot of posters on this thread are clueless and cant see the bigger picture here. Regardless, Trulli should not have been disqualified then re-instated. The disqualification was for overtaking under SC conditions which he did. Whether Hamilton let him by or not, Trulli still committed the offence.

Once again, the FIA have set a precedent - any car overtaking under SC or waved yellows can now site the driver ahead's driving as a defence.

Who can recall when Alosno deliberately slowed down under similar conditions tricking/forcing Schumacher to overtake. Schumacher got the penalty and there was no such defence that the car ahead had deliberately slowed.

Fools, and there are many of you, can't see when they are being manipulated. There is a law for F1 drivers and teams and there is a seperate law just for Mclaren...when it suits Max and his power struggle for F1 post 2011.

Carry on because most of you are blinkered.

Simples ;)

#50 scheivlak

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 21:41

Originally posted by fed up
A lot of posters on this thread are clueless and cant see the bigger picture here. Regardless, Trulli should not have been disqualified then re-instated. The disqualification was for overtaking under SC conditions which he did. Whether Hamilton let him by or not, Trulli still committed the offence.

Once again, the FIA have set a precedent - any car overtaking under SC or waved yellows can now site the driver ahead's driving as a defence.

The clueless one is you :wave: