There’s trouble brewing in Paradise, and it’s not going to end well. Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were involved in a crash yesterday during the Spa Grand Prix which has left more questions than answers in everyone’s’ minds.
The clash, which seemed innocuous enough, on the second lap of the race saw Rosberg clip his nose on the rear tyres of race leader Hamilton’s car, causing Rosberg to lose part of his nose, and gave Hamilton a puncture which eventually forced his retirement from the race. At the time, Hamilton came on the radio sounding extremely surprised over the incident, exclaiming ‘he hit me. Nico hit me.’
Nico was booed on the podium when he claimed his second-place finish but the real revelations came through after the race though, when Hamilton stated that during the debrief with the engineers, Nico stated that he hit Hamilton on purpose, as a way of getting back at the Brit driver for other issues that have arisen in previous races. Mercedes has denied that the clash was deliberate, but Nico’s defense of his actions to the media has sown a seed of doubt that will be difficult to shake.
Through all the chaos, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo came through to take the win, a victory that puts him one victory behind the current championship leader Rosberg, as his team was quick to point out. The smiling Aussie drove a brilliant race, passing his teammate early on and gaining the lead after Rosberg pitted to sort out his self-inflicted nose issues, and finished on the top step of the podium for his efforts.
Valterri Bottas claimed his fourth podium finish of the season, outmaneuvering Kimi Raikkonen, who finished in fourth, his highest finish this season, and also his first finish ahead of his teammate all season. Alonso, who is normally the flagship driver for the Scuderia, had an eventful race to say the least starting with a formation lap mess-up with his engineers, which lead to a five-second penalty that he served in his first pit stop. Due to this drop-down, the Spaniard spent much of the race battling with Kevin Magnussen for fifth place, with neither actually finishing the race in fifth. Magnussen initially finished in front of the Spaniard, but was demoted down to twelfth (a twenty second penalty) after the race, for forcing Alonso off the track when he tried to overtake the McLaren driver.
Sebastian Vettel was the man in fifth, coming in a massive 50 seconds behind his teammate. Jenson Button finished the race in sixth, with Alonso in seventh, Sergio Perez in eighth, Danil Kvyat in ninth and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg claiming the last points up for grabs.
There was plenty of drama off the track too in the build up to the weekend, with Marussia’s Max Chilton claiming he had vacated his race seat to allow the team to auction the seat to raise much needed funds. The seat then went to Alexander Rossi, a graduate of the Young Drivers Academy for the first free practice, but whilst Rossi was still in the car, Chilton was re-awarded his seat with the team and spent the rest of the race weekend driving. Caterham also had some driver reshuffling, with Kamui Kobayashi being dropped for the weekend in favour of Audi endurance racer Andre Lotterer.
It’s not entirely clear what will happen in the coming few days, but I think we can expect some fireworks off the track ahead of the Italian Grand Prix in two weeks.