The story of the 2014 F1 season so far has been one of Mercedes domination. The only man to stop the silver-wash from the Three Pointed Star, as it were, is Red Bull man Daniel Ricciardo – and up to last weekend he’d only managed that twice.
However, he made it a hattrick of wins in his debut season for Red Bull with his most recent victory at the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa. He wasn’t gifted the result by any means, but he was certainly helped.
Mercedes dominated qualifying again. Rosberg took pole, while Hamilton started from second place on the grid after brake problems in Q3 scuppered his chances of trying for the front of the grid in inclement conditions.
Sebastian Vettel set a time good enough for third, while rival Fernando Alonso finished right behind him in fourth, shaping up for another good fight between the two.
Ricciardo started the race from fifth, meaning he had his work cut out to win, while flying Finn Valtteri Bottas would commence the race from sixth spot on the grid.
The drama happened in the first few laps. Hamilton and Vettel both got great starts, with the British driver moving into the lead. The German taking second spot by the first corner.
The pace of the Mercedes was too strong for the Red Bull, however, and by the end of the long straight following the famous Eau Rouge corner, Rosberg had moved back into second.
He then hunted down Hamilton and tried to make a move at the same corner as the lap previous. In his teammate’s slipstream, Rosberg made ground on Hamilton and tried a amove around the outside.
Except it wasn’t going to work. Hamilton squeezed him out but gave him enough room, yet Rosberg didn’t yield. He turned in on Hamilton, breaking his own front wing and puncturing Lewis’ tyre in the process.
Hamilton cruised round to the pits, dropping down the order, while Rosberg lost time at a later pit stop to replace his broken wing, putting him back down the field.
Apart from Rosberg closing in on Ricciardo during the final phase of the race, Spa was all about the controversy at Mercedes.
Red Bull and Ricciardo won while Rosberg finished second, followed by Bottas in third picking up another great podium from a strong drive.
The real drama came off the track. Lewis was obviously dejected but remained calm in his media interviews, maintaining he’d wait until after the race to see what the team’s stance on the incident was.
Following a psot-race debrief, it then emerged that Rosberg had admitted he had hit Hamilton on purpose to prove a point, with Mercedes confirming Hamilton’s remarks on social media as “broadly correct.”
It was clear in which corner Mercedes bosses Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda stood, with both individuals branding the incident as “unacceptable.” Clearly they thought it was Rosberg’s fault.
Rosberg is now saying Mercedes must move forward, but the fact of the matter is the two drivers should have been briefed before hand about the dangers of battling in the early stages. We’ll see how the internal situation plays out at the next race in Italy.
There was a bit of humour and a lighthearted note during the weekend, however, as Lewis Hamilton and a number of other drivers completed the current ice bucket challenge charity donation.