Skip to content

Belgian GP Paddock Notebook – Sunday

Aug 24, 2014, 3:20 PM EDT

Belgium F1 GP Auto Racing AP

There was I thinking that Friday had been pretty ‘chaotic’ as Marussia played flip-flop with its drivers. Compared to what we have seen on race day in Belgium, that was nothing.

It has been a quite remarkable day at the paddock. What started out as a disaster for Mercedes at Les Combes on lap two of the Belgian Grand Prix has now turned into a full blown civil war. Frankly, this latest fall-out between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg might just be irreparable.

Anyhow, let’s deal with the race winner first: congratulations to Daniel Ricciardo for claiming his third career F1 victory. Yet again, he was there to pick up the pieces when Mercedes faltered. The Australian’s win gives a good news story to an otherwise tenuous weekend.

Here’s the final round-up from the paddock at Spa-Francorchamps.

NEWS FROM THE PADDOCK

THOUGHTS FROM THE TRACK

What a day. As Rosberg extends his championship lead to 29 points, Mercedes stands on the brink of civil war – and it’s hard to see a way back now.

When Hamilton said after the Monaco Grand Prix that he and Rosberg were no longer friends, it was personal; it didn’t involve the team. It was soon patched up with a cute throwback picture on Twitter that made it all better.

This time around? There is no way back. Hamilton and Rosberg are now bitter rivals embroiled in a tight title fight, and boy is it shaping up to be a classic.

Let’s deal with the facts here. Firstly, Nico Rosberg hit Lewis Hamilton on lap two of the Belgian GP, ruining the Briton’s race. Rosberg went on to finish in second place, extending his lead at the top of the drivers’ standings to 29 points. His move was immediately condemned by the powers at Mercedes, but general paddock consensus was that it was a “racing incident”.

Then, a few hours after the race, Lewis Hamilton confirmed to the media that Rosberg had said he had the chance to pull out of the move and avoid the accident, but chose not to. This was then verified by the team’s management and communications department. Rosberg insists that he did nothing wrong, but frankly, it is impossible to lay blame with Hamilton here. Rosberg is 100% at fault. He was never going to find a way past around the outside of the corner. Vettel had tried the lap before, only to take to the run off area, just as Nico should have done.

This incident does put into doubt the assumption that his ‘mistake’ in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix was indeed that: a mistake. Rosberg was asked in the press conference about the notion of his move today being deliberate; he brushed it off, why of course not. Now we know that it was – to some extent, which I’ll come to – it puts his character into question.

Another fact is that Rosberg did not go into this race planning to hit Hamilton. He went into it stewing over his defeat in Hungary, yes, but then he said on Thursday that he had “moved on”. Rosberg has traditionally been a very cool and collected character. Today, we saw a very different side to him, someone who was feeling the pressure of a fight for the world championship. Hamilton is winning the mind games here.

Nico therefore went into this race not planning to hit Hamilton, but he was not willing to be as subservient to the Briton as maybe he has been in the past. He was not willing to pull out of a move. A month ago, he would have gone on at Les Combes just like Vettel did. This time, he didn’t, and the consequences are clear for everyone to see.

It will be interesting to see how things go at Monza. Rosberg seemed to be the good guy in the past, but now that has changed. He is the villain in this case – will this play on his mind?

Hamilton may leave Spa with a huge points deficit to make up, but Rosberg has his reputation to save in two weeks’ time.

Latest Posts
  1. GP2: Pierre Gasly claims first pole position at Monza

    Sep 4, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    © GP2 Series © GP2 Series

    Gasly storms to pole ahead of Mitch Evans and Stoffel Vandoorne as American driver Alexander Rossi struggles to P10 on the grid.

  2. Ecclestone confident Vettel will be champion with Ferrari

    Sep 4, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    xxxx during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 4, 2015 in Northampton, England. Getty Images

    Ecclestone backs Vettel to win a fifth world championship during his time with Ferrari.

  3. Boullier: McLaren intends to keep Button for 2016

    Sep 4, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    McLaren Honda's British driver Jenson Button walks in the paddock before the British Formula One Grand Prix at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 5, 2015.       AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Despite having four capable drivers and just two seats, Eric Boullier has a bold plan for 2016.

  4. Vettel relishing first Italian GP in Ferrari colors

    Sep 4, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany smiles during a news conference at the Monza racetrack, in Monza, Italy , Thursday, Sept. 3 , 2015. The Formula one race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni) AP

    After being the enemy for the Ferrari fans in the past at Monza, Vettel will now carry their hopes of a home win on his shoulders.

  5. Hamilton sure he can go quicker still after Monza practice

    Sep 4, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers this car during the second free practice at the Monza racetrack,  Italy , Friday, Sept. 4 , 2015. The Formula one race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) AP

    Despite finishing well clear of the chasing pack on Friday in practice, Hamilton believes he can go faster still.

  6. Drivers run with tributes to Justin Wilson in Italian GP practice at Monza

    Sep 4, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    Germany's Sebastian Vettel sits in the cockpit of his Ferrari during the first free practice session of the Monza racetrack, Italy , Friday, Sept. 4 , 2015. Each of the 20 drivers sported stickers on their helmets in tribute to Justin Wilson, the 37 year old Briton who was killed last month in an Indy car race in Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati) AP

    Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button among those running with a sticker paying tribute to Wilson on their helmets at Monza.

  7. WATCH: IndyCar Awards Show tonight at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN

    Sep 4, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    IndyCar’s season recap airs tonight at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

  8. F1 Paddock Pass: Italian Grand Prix (VIDEO)

    Sep 4, 2015, 10:59 AM EDT

    Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany, left, signs autographs at the Monza racetrack, in Monza, Italy, Thursday, Sept. 3 , 2015. The Formula one race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) AP

    Will Buxton brings you the latest news, interviews and insight from the paddock ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.

  9. F1 paddock reacts to idea of racing with closed or semi-enclosed cockpits (VIDEO)

    Sep 4, 2015, 10:26 AM EDT

    AP AP

    F1 drivers react to idea of closed cockpits possibly being introduced down the road.

  10. Off The Grid: Silverstone preview (premieres 9/5 at 9:30am ET on NBCSN)

    Sep 4, 2015, 10:11 AM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 05:  Fans of Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP fly flags as they show their support for him afterhis victory in the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 5, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Will Buxton and Jason Swales head to Silverstone to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the British Grand Prix in the latest episode of Off The Grid.

  11. U.K. funeral arrangements for Justin Wilson announced; U.S. one details to come

    Sep 4, 2015, 9:58 AM EDT

    AP AP

    First round of funeral details for Justin Wilson have been confirmed.

  12. Hamilton quickest again in second Italian GP practice

    Sep 4, 2015, 9:31 AM EDT

    Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain leads his teammate Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany during the second free practice at the Monza racetrack,  Italy , Friday, Sept. 4 , 2015. The Formula one race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) AP

    Mercedes romps to another one-two finish in FP2 as the rest of the field is left trailing behind.

  13. Jota Sport to race full FIA WEC season in 2016

    Sep 4, 2015, 8:45 AM EDT

    © Jota Sport © Jota Sport

    Jota Sport confirms it will expand its LMP2 programme for 2016 to compete in the full WEC season.

  14. WATCH LIVE: FP2 for the Italian Grand Prix on NBCSN and Live Extra from 8am ET

    Sep 4, 2015, 7:45 AM EDT

    Britain driver Lewis Hamilton steers his Mercedes during the first practice session at the Monza racetrack, Italy, Friday, Sept. 4, 2015. The Formula One race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni) AP

    Lewis Hamilton will be hoping to double up in FP2 after topping first practice on Friday morning.

  15. Hamilton leads Mercedes one-two in Italian GP FP1

    Sep 4, 2015, 5:31 AM EDT

    Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his car during the first free practice at the Monza racetrack, Italy, Friday, Sept. 4 , 2015. The Formula one race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) AP

    Hamilton finishes half a second clear of Rosberg to top FP1 on Friday.

  16. WATCH LIVE: FP1 for the Italian Grand Prix on Live Extra from 4am ET

    Sep 4, 2015, 3:45 AM EDT

    Technicians test a pit stop on a Ferrari car at the Monza racetrack, in Monza, Italy , Thursday, Sept. 3 , 2015. The Formula one race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) AP

    The Italian GP weekend kicks off with FP1 at 4am ET on Friday.

  17. NHRA: All you need to know about the 61st U.S. Nationals

    Sep 3, 2015, 6:55 PM EDT

    u.s. nationals logo

    Here’s all the information you need to know about this weekend’s 61st annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in suburban Indianapolis:

  18. NHRA: Year’s biggest race, the U.S. Nationals, ready to roll

    Sep 3, 2015, 6:54 PM EDT

    nhra logo

    The biggest and most important drag race of the season takes place this weekend with the 61st Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in suburban Indianapolis.

  19. GP3 unveils new car for 2016 season at Monza

    Sep 3, 2015, 3:27 PM EDT

    © GP3 Series © GP3 Series

    The GP3/16 breaks cover at Monza ahead of its introduction next year.

  20. Mercedes uses remaining development tokens to upgrade power units

    Sep 3, 2015, 2:39 PM EDT

    A track marshal waves the checkered flag as Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton crosses the finish line to win the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday Aug. 23, 2015. (Andrej Isakovic/Pool photo via AP) AP

    Mercedes goes all-in ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, fully upgrading the power units on both of its cars.