The Belgian GP apparently snatched scenes from a Quentin Tarantino flick. It was a seamless synthesis of events which appeared innocuous, but had rather profound implications. The Prancing Horse was the first out of the gate!
Scuderia Ferrari has had a horrible 2014 thus far. The marque has no recent memory of the top step of the podium and a miscue minutes before the Belgian GP began, confirmed that the streak of underachievement would continue. When the machines lit air and fuel, Alonso’s Ferrari was still lounging on its manual support, wrapped in a Red Sea of scrambling mechanics! The subsequent penalty was applied during the race.
When the red lights lost their hue, Rosberg froze. He crept from the line. Hamilton pounced. He sped past Rosberg with an excited Vettel completing a Mercedes AMG sandwich. Vettel, sensing that his glory days were returning, was inspired. He immediately challenged for the lead, but his ambition exceeded his machine’s capability – he left the track briefly – which allowed Rosberg to slip into P2. Mercedes 1-2 at the end of lap 1 – exactly as planned!
Hamilton floated through Eau Rogue, chased by the thundering pack. Approaching the end of the Kemmel Straight, a feisty Rosberg, attacked. He chose the outside line. Hamilton held the inside line. They entered the chicane beside each other – Hamilton ahead and then the “unacceptable” happened. They touched. Rosberg’s front wing clipped Hamilton’s left rear tire. A section of Rosberg’s wing was destroyed but Hamilton’s rear tire was punctured and he was forced to limp to the pits with a wounded machine. Game essentially over for Hamilton. Rosberg inherited the lead and the expected Mercedes 1-2 was hurled into the Belgian forest!
Niki Lauda – non-executive chairman of Mercedes - in a pre-race interview, when asked – “Will there be a call for one to move out of the way of the other?” responded by saying – “No more calls. The call was a mistake in Budapest because Mercedes’ strategy is let them race each other – they will fight all the way to the end, which worries me”. His worry bore fruit on Lap 2!
Based on all that I have read and heard, it is obvious that specific rules were clearly established regarding what the team expected of both drivers on the track. And what was the most important rule? Do not hit/ crash into each other! The stance taken by Toto Wolff in the interviews conducted provides confirmation.
NBSN race commentators, submitted their assessment of the collision – Commentator 1 – “Well, that was a 50-50 thing isnt it? Commentator 2 – “Yeah, that was a racing incident, you can’t even blame anyone for that”. But, was it really a racing incident?
Mercedes AMG held a meeting after the GP with both drivers. Lewis Hamilton suggested that Rosberg admitted to causing the collision to prove a point. Hamilton’s interpretation, however, differed somewhat from what the team principals indicated they understood from Rosberg’s statements. But, it was still evident that the incident was avoidable contact. Was the attack at Les Combes another cunning move by Rosberg?
Rosberg is now suggesting that the team needs to move forward from the crash at Spa. He would welcome that – he gained significantly from the incident – he enjoys a 29 points lead in the championship!
Former World Champion, Keke Rosberg, had harsh words for Michael Schumacher in 2006 after his lapse in judgement at Monaco. He referred to Schumacher as a “Cheap cheat” and suggested that Schumacher “Should leave F1 to honest people”. Should he convey similar messages to his son, Nico?
The Italian GP will be rather interesting!
Cecil Munroe Gleaner On-Line Writer