Let's get straight to it then, the incident. Nico Rosberg has obviously taken a lot of the bad press from this one, and no-one was helped by Lewis Hamilton's post debrief claim that Rosberg admitted to crashing into him on purpose. There are a few angles to cover with this one, but I wonder whether 1 argument blankets the majority - Formula 1 usually protects the driver being overtaken in any manoeuvre.
The Les Combes complex is the most obvious overtaking spot on the circuit, but the majority of successful passes either take place long before the braking point, or when you can steal the inside line (where Lewis Hamilton was) away from the defending opponent. Moves around the outside happen but carry great risk, simply because you are relying on your opponent not to run you off the circuit. Kevin Magnussen showed Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button exactly how that works on a number of occassions with some fantastic defending at Rivage. You also need to be at least alongside your opponent going into the corner, whilst Rosberg was always behind his team mate. The move never looked on and from there it all gets a bit clumsy.
Hamilton claimed he left room for Rosberg, but he shouldn't have had to given that it is his team mate. It is the last person you want to have a collision with, and I'm not sure why Rosberg left his wing in that position to be hit. Nico Rosberg is a driver of great talent and he has shown that he is better than that. But what of the argument against Hamilton? Should he to have left more space than normal given that it was his team mate he was defending against? This is the problem facing the team, with both drivers fighting over the world championship and therefore working as though in separate teams. What was of interest to me was Rosberg highlighting Bahrain in his defense of the move, citing that he had been no more aggressive than Hamilton was there. It goes to show exactly how the dynamic changes from the 3rd race of the year to the 12th...
With 7 races to go, everyone would love to see more of the same from these 2 given how closely matched they have been all season. The problem to that formula however is the man who won in Belgium, Daniel Ricciardo. He has been there ready and waiting whenever the main protagonists have slipped, and is now just 64 points off the championship lead, having outscored the Mercedes pair since Monaco. Red Bull might be ruling off his championship chances, but Mercedes certainly won't in a season of apparent dominance and inevitability surrounding Mercedes topping both of the tables. I hope it doesn't come to it, but Mercedes may be forced at some point to employ team orders between their drivers to ensure apparently straightforward 1-2 results return. The next couple of races could just dictate that decision.
Ricciardo was there once again when things went wrong at Mercedes, but his performance was certainly deserving of the win. Red Bull needed to do something different to mask the performance difference suffered by the Renault engined teams. Despite qualifying being in wet weather conditions, the Red Bull drivers were given skinny, low drag rear wings to help boost straight line speed through sectors 1 and 3. It was Ricciardo who again got the most from the RB10 to take top honours, rather than struggling team mate and 4 time champion Sebastian Vettel. The suggestion that Ricciardo would struggle against the German just hasn't been proven throughout 2014, and it will likely be 2015 before we know whether it is the sign of change at the team.
Talking of changes, I plan on writing a post about the recent shuffles and Toro Rosso anouncement sometime ahead of the Italian Grand Prix. Keep eyes peeled for that one! I also feel that I haven't been doing justice to GP2 and GP3 since writing previews for both. The racing has been incredible in both classes this year and are well worth a watch if not already doing so. Expect something on those soon as well!
By Perry Brown, 24th March 2014