The entire 2014 F1 season has belonged to the deep rivalry between Mercedes team-mates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. The two guys have a major share of podium finishes in this funny season, where other drivers have been kept away from the limelight, despite odd victories in some F1 races. It happened at Hungary and it got repeated in Belgium. On both these tracks, Daniel Ricciardo came out on tops but he didn’t make the headlines regardless. The season is perennially accredited to team Mercedes, whether the team’s driver won the race or not. On Sunday, early in the second lap, Lewis Hamilton was hit from behind by team-mate Nico Rosberg in the Belgian GP. The damaged wheel resulted into shredding Hamilton’s rear left tyre with the pieces flying all around. Hamilton needlessly spent a long time on the track and had to leave in disgust. Meanwhile, Rosberg also required the change of his front wings and despite the time lost, still finished second.
During the qualifying on Saturday, however, Rosberg had taken the pole position from Hamilton and it appeared that Sunday will see the 1-2 between the two. A wet day at the Spa-Francorchamps race circuit had made the practice session quite difficult. Regardless, the two Mercedes drivers still demonstrated their acumen in trying conditions. Sun had come out when the final qualifying round took place though the track was still wet, Rosberg took the pole and Hamilton came second. They expected some sound challenge from the Williams team but both Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa couldn’t live up to their efforts in earlier practice sessions. They lacked the pace of Mercedes and fell way back in the final count. Just 0.097 seconds separated Rosberg and Hamilton. Red Bull’s 2013 champion Sebastian Vettel followed Hamilton at third place while Ferrai driver Fernando Alonso was fourth. Vettel’s Red bull team mate and ultimate winner Daniel Ricciardo was fifth to finish ahead of Valtteri Bottas of Williams. Kevin Magnussen of McLaren was seventh, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen eighth, Felipe Massa ninth and Jenson button tenth. It was the seventh pole for Rosberg of the 2014 season and Mercedes has taken 11 out of 12 poles so far.
All through the 11 races of the 2014 seasons until the summer break at Hungary, the deep sense of rage has continued to exist between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. It is ironical that the two guys are in the same Mercedes’ team that has literally swept the season largely for its better engine configuration. In the 12th meeting of the 2014 season in Belgium, the two rivals had a catastrophic contact that threw Hamilton out of the race and while Daniel Ricciardo raced away for his second F1 victory, the entire spectator and media attention was focused on the second lap collision between Hamilton and Rosberg. It was in fact a very slight touch as Rosberg’s front wing clipped Hamilton’s left rear tyre but at such speeds even a small caress can prove disastrous. With everyone knowing about Rosberg-Hamilton feud, it was difficult to deny that it was merely a racing incident. The German also broke one of the most cherished rules in F1 about avoiding a hit on one’s own team-mate.
It was a disaster for Hamilton, who got his tyre shredded and though he circled the track aimlessly, he suffered emotionally. In the tenth lap, a piece of Hamilton’s torn tyre flew off to hit the radio mast of Rosberg’s car. Moving at over 200mph over the next few laps, it kept flapping around to obstruct Rosberg’s vision and slowed down his race. Rosberg needed the change of his front wing but didn’t have a clean race even afterwards. In lap 16, just as he prepared to challenge Vettel, he locked up with the bus stop chicane and this allowed Valtteri Bottas to pass him. Later, however, Rosberg changed to soft tyres and moved ahead of the pack and first overtook Bottas and then Raikonnen. After that he muscled his way to go after Ricciardo but it was late in the race and the Australian was in no mood to give up the advantage he had gained. After Ricciardo, Rosberg, Bottas and Raikonnen, there was big battle for the fifth spot as four drivers; Magnussen, Alonso, Button, and Vettel were literally side by side. After some drama, the fifth to eighth places were settled in favor of Vettel, Magnussen, Button and Alonso respectively.
Though Rosberg finished second, Hamilton had a raw deal from his team controllers. He kept radioing his predicament but they allowed him to leave no earlier than lap 40. With his car badly damaged, he extracted himself out and went to the garage without uttering a single word.
Those watching from sidelines or on TV would generally opine that it was Rosberg, who erred. He was right behind Hamilton and he could have easily kept himself out of the way. Once the collision occurred, Hamilton began shouting; “Nico hit me. Nico hit me”. The stewards, however, didn’t intervene despite Hamilton’s plea and chose to brand the collision as a racing incident. This further aggrieved Hamilton and heightened his disgusting anger. Later, team Mercedes had a post-race meeting involving Hamilton, Rosberg, and team bosses Paddy Lowe and Toto Wolff. Hamilton said that it was a deliberate act on part of Rosberg. Hamilton added that he did it on purpose and he knew he could have avoided it. The sufferer was the champion Daniel Ricciardo, who could not get much of the press because of Rosberg and Hamilton.
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