With each race of this year’s Formula 1 season the rivalry between the two Mercedes drivers has developed. Yesterday’s Belgian Grand Prix was no different with Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton clashing at the Les Combes chicane which was likes dropping a massive stone in a very smooth lake. The ripples of this clash will continue until the end of the season, maybe longer.
Rosberg was clearly in the wrong by clipping Hamilton’s left rear tyre but this was a mistake that damaged both cars. The fact that it caused a puncture for Hamilton and him dropping to the back of the field was perhaps the reason for the boos that Rosberg faced on the podium. He suffered too though and changed his front wing at the first pitstop. He had to work his way up from that point on and battled all the way up to 2nd by the end of the race. Hamilton meanwhile never got back into the groove, moaned incessantly over team radio and retired the car with a few laps to go.
It isn’t just what goes on in the car though. The battles continue off the track and Mercedes had a team meeting following the race. From the way the big hitters were talking in post race interviews I imagine Rosberg got the fair share of the bollocking. Toto Wolff called it an ‘unacceptable race’ and Mercedes chiefs will be frustrated at how a possible 1-2 finish became a retirement and a 2nd place. Ricciardo and Red Bull can close the gap if such incidents continue and they know this.
Lewis Hamilton went on to facebook:
I’m gutted with the result – not just for my own Championship hopes but for the team, as we really should have had a one-two today. It’s been a tough year for everyone and the whole team has been working so hard – every time we’ve been knocked down they’ve never given up. I didn’t fully understand what had happened until I saw the replay just now, but I gave him plenty of space, took the corner like I usually do and suddenly felt a big hit from behind. There was nothing I could do about it and that was effectively my race over. I wanted to retire the car early – not because I was giving up, but because I couldn’t catch the people in front of me and even with a safety car I don’t think I would have been able to pass them. The car was quite badly damaged and my thoughts were to preserve the engine after the last one was destroyed in Hungary. What happens next is not my call – that’s one for the bosses to make. But I’m now almost 30 points behind in the Championship so that’s the main thing on my mind. It’s a big gap and it will be hard to recover from here. That’s tough to swallow – but ultimately it’s just been one of those days.
These days F1 politics continue 24/7 between races, on social media. It’s hard to imagine Prost V Senna on twitter but perhaps we won’t need to if this kind of nonsense continues. This season is turning into a psychological and racing battle between two evenly matched drivers at the top of their game – silly racing incidents and facebook bullshit excepted. The winner will be the one that maximises the opportunities they get and makes the most of the situation even in difficult times. Yesterday that’s what Rosberg did. He leads Hamilton by 29 points.
At the start of the year people were expecting Mercedes to dominate and people seemed quite worried by the prospect of dull racing. What we’ve ended up with is some fantastic racing and a rivalry between teamates that adds to the drama. You don’t want to miss a race when it’s this good.