By Charlie Bennett
Nico Rosberg's actions at the Belgium Grand Prix were foolish and self-harming. He was trying to make a point to Lewis Hamilton, but it wasn't the time or place to do it. It has dramatically back fired and now he is the pantomime villain.
Rosberg, previously the poster boy for Mercedes, is now public enemy number one after deliberately colliding with Hamilton in the Belgium Grand Prix. Both cars were damaged but Rosberg was fine to go on and finish second. Hamilton fell to the back and couldn't make up any ground.
Rosberg’s action stems from the Bahrain Grand Prix in April, where Hamilton was robust in defending his lead. Rosberg thought Hamilton had crossed the line by the amount of times they almost touched.
This sort of debate is not uncommon amongst drivers, who all have a difference in opinion about what is and what isn't dangerous. Rosberg is still hurting from that day, and he “proved a point” by mimicking Hamilton’s style in Spa.
The Mercedes team, who have been weak in their control of the drivers, have condemned Rosberg for his actions. But they must take some responsibility. They have allowed the tension to simmer for too long. Managing this situation is difficult and, at times, impossible but Mercedes have not done enough to prevent this happening. For that, we thank them. Otherwise this season wouldn't be anywhere near as fun.
Rosberg and Hamilton both feel hard done by this year. Hamilton for his bad luck and reliability problems, and Rosberg for, what he feels, has been unfair driving and decision making from Hamilton. This is highlighted in Hungary. Rosberg has been simmering for the past four weeks over Hamilton’s decision to not move aside for him when asked to by the team. If the boot was on the other foot, Rosberg would have done exactly the same thing. He can’t complain.
Hamilton said if Rosberg got close enough he wouldn't stand in his way. The German was never close enough. The decision worked wonders for Hamilton, who stopped Rosberg winning the race and beat him to third place. Rosberg’s revenge was deliberately taking his team mate out at Belgium. His frustration at not being further ahead in the championship against a more illustrious opponent has got to him and he cracked.
Hamilton is now the innocent party. Fans will sympathise with him after a continual stream of poor reliability and bad luck which has tarnished his season. How could you not, unless you are German. Rosberg is now running out of fans. But he won’t care. Champions are rarely liked, ask Sebastian Vettel or Michael Schumacher.
However, Hamilton is not the sort of driver you want to rub the wrong way. You want to make him doubt himself and work on his weaknesses, not rile him in a way that will bring him out fighting with renewed determination. Hamilton is likely to be even faster from now on. Although he is trailing by a huge 29 points, you feel that the 2008 champion has gained a massive mental advantage.
Sunday’s clash is the result of a long season of bickering between the pair that, in truth, hasn't done either much good. Hamilton is not totally innocent and he has been as equally badly behaved.
His quip about Rosberg’s upbringing was below the belt and he has over reacted to several issues, such as Rosberg’s qualifying error in Monaco. The suggestion that it was deliberate was silly. Simply, he is Lewis being Lewis. But, at least, he hasn't crashed into his team mate to “prove a point”.
Fans may now think it’s justified if he wins the world title again. Perhaps he deserves it more than the big bad German, but if F1 is going to be completely fair this year then the World Championship will not go to a German or an Englishman.