Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg collided on the final lap of the Austrian Grand Prix. We explore what the collision says about Nico Rosberg’s character and the battle for the 2016 Drivers’ Championship
WHAT THE STEWARDS SAID:
Whatever the opinion, the stewards ruled that Rosberg deserved a ten second time penalty (which did not impact the result of the race) along with a reprimand and two points on his license for continuing to race with a damaged car.
“Having taken note of the extensive evidence given by both drivers and the video and telemetry data, it was apparent that Car 44 (HAM) was in front of Car 6 (ROS) – i.e. more than fully alongside – and that the driver of Car 44 could have clearly made the turn (T2) on the track, if not for the resultant collision. Car 6 did not allow Car 44 “racing room” and hence the driver of Car 6 was responsible for the collision.We do note the extenuating circumstances and the fact that the driver of Car 6 (ROS) did slow down significantly [after the incident] and attempted to mitigate the risk to other drivers and cars. “
The ramifications of Nico Rosberg’s last lap collision were multiple. Firstly, instead of extending his championship lead he lost out to Lewis and the gap is back down to just eleven points. If he had yielded and accepted second then his lead would be eighteen points. But of course, ‘yielding’ is not a word in a racing driver’s vocabulary. In fact, you could go as far as saying that Nico’s defense of his lead, after making a critical mistake at Turn 1 on the final lap, was desperate and had the hallmarks of a man under pressure. We’ll see in the run up to the summer break whether or not he needs to feel under pressure.Embed from Getty Images
THE MAKING OF A CHAMPION?
Perhaps a positive to come from the incident is that Rosberg made a decisive move – which evoked some memories of Michael Schumacher’s move on Damon Hill in Adelaide in 1994. Of course, if he does this every race then it is no longer impressive but rather ‘dirty’ driving. Nico showed himself to not be a push-over today. He even had the audacity to blame Hamilton for the collision after the Grand Prix:
“They gave me the blame, which sucks. I’m of a different opinion, but that doesn’t help. I was in the battle and I had the strong inside position and I was surprised Lewis turned in where I was.”
Undoubtedly, the willingness to stand up for himself in an on-track battle showed his new found confidence which could well prove to be the confidence of a World Champion. In recent weeks, the Mercedes pair have said that their relationship as team-mates is ‘better than ever’ and presumably this will continue to be the case despite this latest incident.
BOOING ON THE PODIUM.
As the winner of the Grand Prix took to the podium he was greeted by boos. Allegedly, the commentators on the radio played out at the circuit had blamed Hamilton for the collision, hence the crowd’s reaction to Hamilton’s appearance. If this allegation is true or not, no driver should be booed on the podium. Fans should respect the drivers, just as drivers should respect fans. You could argue that Hamilton egged the fans on slightly by answering to their response – ‘that’s not my problem it’s theirs‘. His sarcastic thumbs up to the crowd only prompted more negative reaction. Nevertheless, he didn’t deserve the booing and the fans should feel embarrassed for their far from classy reaction.Embed from Getty Images
The booing highlighted a further problem among certain broadcasters (*cough* Sky F1) who blamed the booing on a variety of reasons from Brexit to the fans being German. The first is a complete nonsense and the latter presumes that every German fan is also a fan of Nico Rosberg which is simply not true, just as the presumption that the same broadcaster makes that everyone heading to Silverstone next week is going because of Lewis Hamilton. It is simply not true, there are plenty of fans from Britain who don’t particularly like Lewis Hamilton, just as there are plenty of fans from Germany who don’t particularly like Nico Rosberg.
It was wrong when Sebastian Vettel was booed on the podium on multiple occasions in 2013, it was wrong when Rosberg was booed following a controversial moment at Spa in 2014 and it was just as wrong today. Let’s celebrate drivers’ achievements and be sporting regardless of our allegiances.
What did you make of Nico Rosberg’s Austrian Grand Prix? Let me know in the comments below!