Another F1 Race is in the books. As we all expected Nico Rosberg has lost what once seemed like an insurmountable Championship lead to teammate Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton’s victory should have been the main story after the Hungarian Grand Prix. Somehow other dramas have stolen the show. However drama of a different sort is what everyone is talking about this morning. There was Hamilton’s “You’re #1” salute to Esteban Gutierrez. Max Verstappen once again proved he is extremely difficult to pass, potentially stepping over the line this time. Lastly, the public bickering over qualifying between Hamilton and Rosberg.
We start with Hamilton, and why not? The man has won 5 out of the last 6 Grand Prix’s. He is on fire, completing a massive comeback in an astonishingly short amount of time. Hamilton knew what was at stake in Hungary. He knew victory would vault him into the lead of the Championship. Being on that kind of edge he was none to pleased when he was held up by Gutierrez while Nico was chasing him. Once able to pass the young Haas driver, Hamilton gestured his displeasure in the form of his middle finger as he drove by. Gutierrez received a five-second time penalty for ignoring blue flags. Though he maintains his innocence.
“I didn’t ignore them! I simply had two aeroplanes coming from behind, coming very quickly! Of course, I was focused on my race, they came very quickly and I was trying to find the safest place to let them by. I’ve no comment on the penalty. As I say, I was aware of the blue flags, but I was really looking for the safest place to let them by.”
As for Hamilton’s gesture, Gutierrez had this to say:
“Not a very respectful move from him I have to say. I have spoken to him in the past. I think he is respectful, he is the world champion, but he shouldn’t do these kinds of things. He should respect all of the competitors. You never know, maybe in the future I will be fighting for a championship with him, so he has to respect that.”
Gutierrez would continue on Twitter:
“Being a world champion doesn’t give you the right to be disrespectful to your competitors, my friend.”
Hamilton saw things a bit differently and you can’t really blame him. Here he is fighting for a championship and a slow driver is putting his lead in danger.
“I lost so much time behind him, and at the same time Nico was catching me, which was really, really tough. I may have wanted to do that (middle finger), but I didn’t.”
Come on now Lewis, just own up to it. You were frustrated, and in the heat of the moment you decided to flip Esteban the bird. We’ve all been there. Well not on a race track and definitively in Formula 1, but everyone gets pissed at some idiot in the way.
Speaking of being in the way, this brings me neatly to Mad Max Verstappen. He has proven race after race that he may be very young, but he is also a tenacious driver. Willing to protect his position at all costs. He has come perilously close to the line in his defense of his position, in Hungary he may crossed it. Verstappen’s partner this time? Kimi Raikkonen. While the Kimi was chasing Verstappen down, the two made contact, damaging Riakkonen’s front wing. Amazingly Kimi managed to keep up with Max after the incident, but with his front downforce compromised making the pass proved too difficult. After the race Riakkonen was understandably upset.
“Once I decided to go somewhere, you cannot just come there – it is good that I managed to somehow half-miss him.
“It was a bit of a similar story, that second thing – obviously I made a move and once I decided to go, it’s very hard to back off and try to avoid the other car, once the other car started to move after me.I tried to miss him and I just managed to miss him but it was two times that, in my feeling, he wasn’t correct.
I’m on the fence on this one if I’m honest. On the one hand I can totally see Kimi’s argument. By weaving around like he has been Max puts not only the cars in jeopardy he could put the safety of both drivers in danger. However I can also see Verstappen’s point of view. He has the position and he isn’t just going to wave someone by, he’s going to defend by any and all means necessary. Surprising thing in all this was who came to Verstappen’s defence. None other than 4 time world champion and Kimi’s teammate, Sebastian Vettel.
“Kimi is one of the fairest guys in the field, but that’s how it is sometimes. The race is long, the season is long, so I’m sure they’ll meet again.”
Vettel would go on to say he doesn’t believe Verstappen should be penalized.
“I’m against the whole policies of penalties and complicated ruling I think it’s silly,” he said. “I think people outside are laughing at us – and that’s something we need to work on.”
Lastly we go on to another set of teammates disagreeing. The Undisputed Heavyweight Champions of not getting along. Nico and Lewis. Seriously at this point, they should just have their own reality TV show. Desperate Race Drivers of Germany. Their latest dust-up is over what exactly yellow flags mean. In qualifying Hamilton’s last lap charge to pole was thwarted by double yellow flags thanks to a Fernando Alonso spin. While Hamilton slowed, Rosberg did not and passive aggressive drama ensued. This time it was in the post RACE press conference. Sure why talk about the race when you can talk about qualifying that in the end didn’t matter as Hamilton overtook Rosberg. But seeing as how we can’t get enough of Nico and Lewis here’s what they had to say. We start with Hamilton for no particular reason.
“In the whole 23 years of racing it has been, if its yellow flag, you slow down, and if it is double yellow, be prepared to stop. Now Nico was doing the same speed at the apex as he was doing on the previous timed lap, so if it happened to be a car spun or a marshal on the track, it would have been pretty hard for him to stop. And the fact he didn’t get penalized means we have to be careful because we are sending a message not only to the drivers here but also to the drivers in the lower categories is that it’s now possible to only lose one tenth of a second in a double-waved yellow flag, which is one of the most dangerous scenarios.”
Basically Hamilton is saying he is respecting the rules and is concerned for the safety of others. By default that would mean Nico isn’t. If this was a political battle, Lewis would not so subtly insinuate that this means Rosberg has no regard for human life. But it isn’t so Lewis isn’t. Rosberg’s Response?
“What you have to do with double yellow is significantly reduce your speed. I went 20km/h slower into that corner. That is a different world in an F1 car. With 20km/h you are going proper slow and everything is safe. I lifted off 30 meters before my braking point. I was just rolling there, 20km/h slower until I got to the apex. So definitely I significantly reduced my speed and that’s why for the stewards it was completely acceptable. On a drying track you are going to get so much quicker every time you go out there. So in that segment I was slower with the yellow flags, but in the big sector I’m quicker because the track is getting quicker. So it was pretty clear to the stewards and that’s why I didn’t get a penalty.”
What Rosberg is saying is he slowed down but you probably didn’t notice it because F1 cars are so fast. I mean the stopwatch doesn’t lie, you don’t win the pole by slowing down at any point on the track. But Rosberg can’t admit that or else he’d be given a penalty and lose more points to Lewis. What Nico needs to realize is, it’s over. He had his moment, he choked it away, he needs to come to grips with this. He needs to learn how to deal with Lewis without making excuses or flat-out crashing into him.
Make no mistake, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of any of this. Nico and Lewis will continue to fight with each other. Verstappen will continue to race for every single square inch he can get. Slow drivers will continue to be a nuisance. None of this is going away.