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Nico Rosberg’s Monaco Grand Prix pole position was not without controversy today as he went off and escape road at Mirabeau in the final flying lap. This caused a yellow flag that impacted teammate Lewis Hamilton’s flying lap.

Hamilton seems to be on a mission to amp up the rivalry between the two drivers having stated earlier this week that he is hungrier than his teammate due to his Spartan childhood compared to Rosberg’s Monaco-style upbringing. He then called the Monaco qualifying incident “ironic” during the post-race press conference.

For Rosberg, the incident was caused by trying to push too hard:

“I tried to make it, but turned out as I was going to hit the tyre wall,” said Rosberg.

“It was close but I managed to go into the escape road.

“I know that I had a really good banker in there, so I tried to push that little bit more and went over the edge.”

Mercedes team boss, Toto Wolff, has rubbished allegations that Rosberg deliberately ran off in order to prompt yellow flags and end the session as well as Hamiton’s bid for pole. This was equated to Michael Schumacher’s infamous Rascasse incident in which the German stopped his car on track to prevent Fernando Alonso, who was behind him on the final flying lap, from securing pole. Wolff told the press:

“I don’t think that anybody does that [deliberately crash] in modern day Formula 1.

“He missed his braking and he took the exit. There is no more to add.

“I know you guys want a spicy, controversial story, but it’s all bulls***.”

According to AUTOSPORT, Hamilton has implied that Rosberg “potentially” may have tried to spoil his pole run. When asked if he felt the two should talk about the situation, Hamilton offered an anecdotal tale of how he’d prefer to handle the situation:

“I don’t know if Senna and Prost talked about it but I quite liked the way Senna dealt with that so I’ll take a page out of his book,” Hamilton said.

In a season dominated by one team with five wins, six pole positions and a quest to have the perfect season, it seems that the Mercedes teammate battle is one of the few things that can create controversy and offer a dog and pony show to maintain fan interest.

I’ve seen the Senna and Prost battle, this is no Senna and Prost battle. If Lewis Hamilton did little to position himself as the good guy in the fight between teammates with his “I had it tough” speech, surely Lewis fans will accuse Rosberg with allegations of Schumacher-esque tactics in denying Hamilton pole and the controversy spirals from there. While Hamilton was feeling the pressure of his statement, now Roserbg is feeling the weight of accusations over tactical cynicism and we’re back to moral equivalency once again.

It seems that Rosberg locked up and ran too hard into Mirabeau but even if the telemetry were made public, fans will all have their own opinions about the incident. Perhaps Hamilton will tweet the telemetry again so we can see if Rosberg deliberately braked too late.

In the end, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen said it best:

“I saw he locked the wheel and ran wide but obviously I am not here to judge anybody and say what was true and what was not. He knows himself. Obviously it is hard to say was it a mistake or not. Everybody will have their own opinion about this.”

Indeed they will.

In the end, the Stewards investigated and said:

“The stewards examined video and telemetry data from the team and FIA and could find no evidence of any offense related to the turn 5 incident.”

Regardless, the other talking points from Monaco qualifying are these:

  • Red Bull is, as we predicted, more competitive in Monaco and Daniel Ricciardo had a great run to third for Sunday’s race. Any bobble by the two grumpy Mercedes teammates and Ricciardo could be looking at his first win.
  • Ferrari were slightly more competitive as well and so was Ricciardo’s teammate Sebastian Vettel who suffered and ERS issue during qualifying that prevented him from doing any better than 4th on the grid for Sunday’s race.
  • Mercedes are still clearly dominant.
  • The cars sound anemic in the streets of Monaco
  • McLaren’s Jenson Button is really on the back foot this weekend while teammate Kevin Magnussen made the most of his qualifying effort to place 8th.
  • Sergio Perez bested his teammate to make it to Q3 and place 10th.
  • Toro Rosso looked much better at Monaco as well with a terrific drive from rookie Daniil Kvyat slotted 9th on the grid.
  • Rosberg’s pole position represents his 6th which now eclipses that of his father, Keke, who had five during his career.
  • Pirelli reckons the tires are about a second apart from the prime to the option and the quickest race strategy will be a one-stopper over the 78 laps of Monaco. The assumption is that the teams would start on the option and change on lap 30 but it remains to be seen if the option tire will last that many laps.
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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Andreas

    So, the stewards have decided to not take any further action re Rosberg. Personally, I don’t see how they could have done anything else, unless they could prove that the yellows would have been lifted if Rosberg hadn’t reversed back towards the track (which I doubt) or if they had other conclusive evidence that the whole thing was deliberate.

    So, in light of Hamilton’s “Senna channeling”, I guess turn 1, lap 1 will be interesting tomorrow… :-)

    • Yeah, I’m not sure of the timing of his reversing back to try and get on the track but my hunch is Lewis had already passed him by the time he started to reverse. Surely the stewards saw that as well.

      • Andreas

        Actually, from the onboard shots it looked like Rosberg went quite deep down that escape road – far deeper than the position he was at when Lewis came by. So he was probably already reversing as Hamilton passed. But it probably didn’t matter – even if he’d parked up as far down the escape road as possible, the yellows would most likely still have been flying. And you are allowed to reverse back on to the track, as long as you do it safely. I suspect the only way the stewards could have punished Rosberg would have been if it was blatantly clear the whole thing was deliberate (Rascasse 2006 style).

        Still, there’s no lack of drama. It’ll be interesting watching the two Merc drivers the rest of the season. Charsley might just win that bet after all :-)

  • The Captain

    He just can never pass up an opportunity to compare himself to Sena can he. Man I hate that D-Bag.

    • In fairness to Lewis, Senna is his hero from F1 and that’s not unlike many of the young drivers so he most likely always defaults to “WWSD?” What would Senna do? He’s no Senna and I think that much is clear but I can’t fault the guy from trying to emulate his hero or taking inspiration from him. Even Schumacher wept when he’d eclipsed his records such is the pull of Senna in the minds of newer generations of drivers. I can afford Lewis that. If he starts saying he’s like Senna or as good as, then we may have reason for pause. :)

      • The Captain

        Yea, I get that, he’s just loosing any benefit of the doubt with me. No, actually he lost that a long time ago. I think it’s telling how much he’s been whining while wining races and leading the championship. Whining on the radio, whining in the press. Arguing with the team all the time. Heck, all the personal jabs in his relationship with Rossburg seem to come only from him. He’s not even wining gracefully. Perhaps it’s the pressure of having a teammate that can beat him. This drama has happened before and this time we can’t blame Alonso.

  • CHINOS

    Captain you are the real D-Bag

    • The Captain

      Decorum and Civility! Decorum and Civility you jack-ass!

    • Hi Chinos. You may disagree with Captain’s opinion but at F1B we engage and share our opinion with decorum & civility. That means no personal attacks. Have a counter opinion? Great, share it but if your counter is to attack one who has an opinion you dislike, that’s really not discussion. No one has a right not to be offended. Let’s hope we can rise above the typical and engage in meaningful debate. If not, we’d encourage you to share your opinion and unique style of sharing it at numerous other websites that really enjoy that sort of approach, unfortunately ours is not one of those sites.

      The Captain has been a long-time member here and is a good guy regardless if he or I agree on every topic.

      • Guy

        Sorry but you’re being hypocritical to allow once person(your friend Captain) to call people “D-bag” and than expect everyone one else to remain civil.

        • Weevil

          Have to say I think Guy has a point here Negative Camber. I have listened to your podcast for a year and heard the “decorum and civility” mantra and finally visited your forum for a first time this morning. The first article I read opens with the Captain calling one person a “d-bag” and then calling someone a “jack-ass”. Both the OP and the respondent seem to me to be out of line and yet you excuse the Captains behaviour because he is “a good guy”. I think the Captain may have a point (in his second post) that Hamiliton doesn’t do himself any favours by seeming to complain a lot but if you open with “man I hate that d-bag” then you are likely to provoke a reaction. If you want people to stick to being civil i think you need to pick up bad behaviour from all forum members.

          • Captain was calling a ‘Driver’ a D-B, not a fellow site member…. that said, I do think that his rebuttal of ‘jack-ass’ was not warranted.

            Being a super-long-time member of the site, and even longer-time fanatic of Fred, I gotta say, folks need a thicker skin when it comes to their driver of choice.

            Not once during the ’07 season did I think that a single derogative statement towards Fernando was meant for me, nor did I take it personally. It was my job to defend Alonso… which I did quite well and I’d like to think that I helped sway a few opinions to his favor. At least his detractors were forced to admit that he is probably the best driver… unlike poor Seb… who only had one great and an additional good race, that he crashed out, in a poor car. both in the rain.

            Lord knows I’ve said enough against Prost and Schumacher to make Todd’s head explode. (never mind what I really think about Heidfeld)

            ALONSO ’08!!!

          • If there are occasions on the forum that warrant a calm reminder, I would be happy to do so. I just don’t get a chance to see every post on the forum but feel free to let me know. Captain is not my ‘friend’, I don’t know him but personal attacks, as Noddy mentions, are not appreciated here. If you think a driver is a jerk, fair enough but attacking people on the site for their opinion is something we try to avoid. I agree that “jack-ass” was not called for either and is outside of what we try to exemplify here. Both people could calm it down a bit and have a civil discussion in my opinion.

            As Noddy says, he and I have not always seen eye to eye and yet through civility, I consider him a long-time member of the site. He simply avoids attacking or calling people names over their personal opinion. I would much rather know Chino’s view on the situation and his/her opinion than simply calling captain a d-bag. That got us no where.

        • The Captain

          If Hamilton stops racing and starts posting then I would be wrong in (and wouldn’t) calling him a D-bag.

          The Jack-ass comment was the preverbal second punch in a hockey game. Sure I’ll take the penalty and head to the box, but the throw was preceded and warranted.

  • I sure think it was not delibrate…and yes lewis is a bit outspoken..however he does produce some good 1 lap times…..this keeps us engaged…and racers are there to do that.

  • Big talking point. Seems split 50-50 amongst fans here.

    Todd, would you ask Paul why Rosberg sawed at the wheel entering braking? I didn’t see it, but others watching the monitors and commentary said he was doing so, after the bump, and long before he locked up.

    Not trying to add to conspiracy theories, just curious.

    The cars sound fantastic, btw. Granted, Monaco’s barriers certainly help w/ the volume; I think you should attend a race before making final judgement. I’ll reserve my final for a more-traditional track like Austin, but on a street course, they’re proper race car-angry. Many of the regular attendees I’ve spoken to feel the same (to be fair, some still want more noise; I needed my plugs).

    • The Captain

      It’s funny because I felt the exact opposite about the engine noise here. For me the barriers are highlighting the terrible turbo whine and flatness of the engine. The cars actually sound worse for me at Monaco. You can hear the tires screeching in the pool complex they are so quiet even with the barriers bouncing sound back.

      • Are you here? Feel free to email if you’d like to meet; we’re attending the Blue Gin event post-dinner.

        • The Captain

          Oh my I wish! No, I was comparing the sound of Monaco to the other races on TV through my gigantic surround sound system. Man I really hope you have a great time! This is one event that’s on my bucket list to go to. Have fun.

          • I read a couple of tweets today by scarbs and others and they all said that the engines sound terrific at the track and that it’s really more of an issue in front of the TV that the FIA needs to fix.

    • I’ll ask Jeff. My hunch is the backend was stepping out or a balance issue. Pure guess on my part though, I didn’t see it and will have to watch again.

    • Just watched it again and to be honest, it looks to me like he was coming in too hot and corrected the rear end a tad post-bump. Then seemed to know he wasn’t going to make it stick and was trying to decide whether to commit to the corner or bail out. It happens really fast and it seems likely that he was was sensing the speed that he was scrubbing off and if he could make the corner with the reality of turning left and taking the run off. It doesn’t seem as odd as some have made it sound but I’ll leave it to others to make that call.

  • Meant volume, not noise, Todd :D

  • rapierman

    One other important thing: Vergne got 6th, I believe. That’s a big improvement over what he usually does.

  • Tom Firth

    TV didn’t help by stirring the pot so damn much, Just like did with Alonso and Hamilton previously. Sure a rivalry exists but let it thrive by itself if it is going to, stop trying to create Prost VS Senna and turning Rosberg into a villain.

    Today was a mistake by Rosberg in my opinion, nothing more. which became stupidly over-hyped. Thankfully for once the FIA saw sense.

  • i am a lewis Hamilton fan and i generally dont want to seem biased. but in my opinion rosberg deliberately did that. after studying his previous lap compared to the one he aborted you can tell it was fishy! unfortunately rosberg is psychologically done he knows he isnt faster than lewis! ham is just on another level!!

    • Ant Davidson analyzed the lap pretty thoroughly and showed that Nico was pressing so hard that he had already got the previous turns wrong and was out of shape as he set up for the braking point. I believe his “sawing” at the steering wheel was legitimately attempting to save the car and thus the corner.

      • I just posted the link below. Good chat about it. Also the gears he was in and the desperation to claw back time. See blow.

  • nofahz

    Lewis would be a lot better off pulling a Piquet than a Senna if he wants to win the championship. He’s also the style of athlete who says dumb things publicly when it’s NOT the heat of the moment. He’s more collected when he’s right out the car. Weird, but they don’t pay these guys the big bucks to be geniuses I suppose.
    Thumbs down to Nico. Not for any underhanded shenanigans but for being the provisional pole sitter & then cocking up qualifying. Way to be anti climatic Nico. Here’s hoping it’s one of those variable condition, crazy Monaco GP.

  • Gary KPDX

    I can’t remember ever seeing a car take that escape road. Anyone with better memory or more viewing hours here? Seems odd; either way I very much like seeing these rich F1 people angry, nervous, snakebit, and jumpy. No silly fisticuffs as in NASCAR, just the very best poisonous looks and veiled threats we could ever hope for.

    • Andreas

      It happens. Alonso locked up and went wide (into the escape road) at Mirabeau right at the end of FP1, reversing back on to the track before continuing on his way.

  • Here’s a fun discussion about the incident between two really good guys. Enjoy:
    http://youtu.be/m2nBODGy5Eo

    • This is absolutely brilliant television. Personally, I think Ant is one of the best analysts going, and no slouch of a driver, either. Johnny is on my top list of guys I’d love to sit down and have a beer with.

    • Fantastic stuff.

      Suffice it to say, I am not swayed by Ant’s theory.

  • UAN

    I don’t think it was deliberate per se. Rosberg was clearly pushing it to the limit (I think he was up on his own previous time). I believe he legitimately lost it at Mirabeau.

    However, I think he had a choice to make the turn or go down the run off. He could have made the turn but his lap was basically over. I think he made a split second decision to go down the run off. I don’t know if he could process it consciously in real time, and it probably looked much more open to the left (where the run off is), but ultimately he made the right choice imho.

  • F1derbar

    Why did his going down the runoff bring out a yellow anyway? He was clearly done, there should be rules about not reversing onto the track in that situation, Lewis should’ve been able to complete his lap.

  • “The cars sound anemic in the streets of Monaco”

    how many years have I listened to the staff of F1B warble on about how F1 is ‘not a show’…. and yet it’s not the speed or quickness of the cars that seem to matter, it’s the look and sound.

    face the truth and admit to yourselves… that to you, to a large extent, F1 is about the show.

  • Is it me… or is the F1 media trying desperately to spark a fight between the team mates? I’d rather be called a rich kid that other things that have been said between rivaling teammates. Lack of radio messages from the team means there is no new info, not a conspiracy to favor the other driver. Just because Nico has pole doesn’t mean he’ll win the race. There is a strong possibility of a safety car and maybe even a restart.

    • i agree… but i must admit that the first thought that came to my head while watching the post-quali interview was nico saying ‘while some drivers were sleeping on their dad’s couches and suckling at ron’s teet, i was learning the streets of monaco’.

      so i suppose i’m also guilty, sadly. probably leftover animosity towards lewis circa ’07

    • That’s exactly my impression, particularly from the British press. Things like the Autosport headlines that take a random Lewis interview and distill some Nico-bashing message that’s not even in there. And now they have the perfect narrative in Rosberg supposedly retaliating by employing dirty tactics.

      It’s a desperate wish to turn this into Senna vs. Prost 2.0 and it annoys the hell out of me. Why do we always need drama to enjoy something?

  • Manuel G

    To be honest I find Nico’s racing line and steering wheel movements at the moment of the lock up, doesn’t match those of his other laps but anyway what is done is done. However, regardless of nico doing it on purpose or not, Hamilton has shown he has no intention of coming second. They will fight it out on track and I got a feeling tomorrow’s race might just become another Monaco Classic.

    • When you watch the analysis done by Sky, they show nicely that the steering wheel jiggles came right after he started breaking. He was breaking under load, slightly turning to the left, bottomed out, then immediately corrected that by quickly turning right, then left again. Then he tried to steer right again to get around the corner at which point the front right tire locked up and he was going straight, so he decided to turn left and go into the run-off area instead of crashing the car.

      In short: Rosberg’s steering motions were perfectly in line with an honest mistake. While that’s not enough to prove the virtue of his intentions 100%, it’s rather a piece of evidence in his favor than the opposite.

      If he really wanted to cause a yellow flag, I would at the very least expect him to omit that last turn to the right, as he never would have wanted to go around that corner. But then there would have been better, less suspicious ways to cause a yellow flag anyway, like driving off his front wing.

  • Buddy

    I don’t think Nico did it on purpose, but I wish he had, or at least I hope Lewis thinks Nico did it on purpose. It would show Lewis that maybe Nico is “hungrier” than Lewis

  • Schmorbraten

    The stewards had all the telemetry and all camera angles, and I haven’t, so if they say it wasn’t deliberate, I’m happy with that.

    If it was indeed deliberate it would mean that Rosberg was damn clever in executing it in a way that can’t be clearly discovered in the telemetry, and I don’t know whether that’s possible.

    If it was deliberate, it would serve Hamilton right after his latest musings about himself and the rest of the world.

    Comparing oneself to Senna is very daft, and then some.

    I hope they crash at the first corner. Hamilton would have a hard time making anyone believe he didn’t want to crash after what he said yesterday.

  • Nic Boshoff

    Rosberg had to pull a fast one to win! Now in the same league as the other german did years ago