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The qualifying incident at the Monaco Grand Prix will hang like a black cloud over Formula 1 for a while but the Daily Mail decided to go to the source of the stewards inquiry and find out what they thought, saw and decided.

Derek Warwick, the ex-driver steward for the race, shared his thoughts on the issue and knew very well the implications:

“You could argue that as president of the BRDC I would have a reason to come to a decision that would have favoured the British driver, but obviously that is not how I would approach it. I am there to be independent,” Warwick said.

“It is a big decision to make when you are deciding to move a driver to the back of the grid. It was doubly important to get it right because it could affect many things – probably the outcome of the race and possibly of the world championship.”

If there were a reason to vote for your countryman, the opportunity was there but that isn’t how Derek saw the issue. He saw something else that prevented voting along national lines:

“We had all Mercedes’s data, including Lewis’s data to overlay on Nico’s. We had the FIA data. We had onboard shots, overhead shots, circuit shots. We had throttle traces, braking traces, everything we needed to make, hopefully, the right decision,” Warwick told The Daily Mail.

“It was not black and white. It took a long time. We wanted to be sure and thorough. The driver is a massive component in what we end up deciding. So Nico was in the stewards’ room for a long time with the team manager [Ron Meadows]. I wouldn’t say I interrogated him; I interviewed him. I made sure I asked him all the right questions.”

Warwick has seen a thing or two in the world or racing and felt this wasn’t a hoodwink:

“I have been around a long time and seen people try to pull the wool over my eyes. Did I have doubts in my mind, of course I did. But he gave me the answers I needed. I know there are conspiracy theories but you will not find a more honest driver in grand prix racing than Nico. He said himself that he made a mistake, came in too fast, braked too late and locked up his rear tyres.”

What about Lewis and his actions, comments and thoughts about the incident? Warwick has some advice:

‘I understand that Lewis was upset. Possibly he would have gone faster than Nico on that lap. Arguably the incident cost him the Grand Prix.
‘I don’t want to give him advice really — he has won umpteen races and a world championship — but if I were to say anything it would be to man up and concentrate on the next race in Canada.’

The advice comes at a good time as team now head to Canada and Lewis has a lot to consider for the remainder of the season. One race does not make a season and Lewis has the pace to bring home his second title…even though he said last year that he wouldn’t want to win like Vettel did—dominating everything. I assume that sentiment will change because winning in F1 is winning, no matter how you do it.

For Warwick, the decision was the right one and there was no foul play in qualifying. Ex-driver John Watson felt the same. Once Lewis decided it was on purpose, I’m not sure anything anyone said was going to change his mind and that’s not a sign of maturity rather an inability to see things in total. Everyone likes to be the victim these days…even the culprits.

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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.
  • The Imperative Voice

    Do I think he purposefully went off course to hurt Hamilton’s round? No. Does it nonetheless trigger a whole set of issues related to Mercedes’ internal politics and F1? Yes. On narrow courses like this F1 races are decided by quallification and attrition, not a ton of racing. That could be fixed, but is reality, and Hamilton is likely crabby because so much hangs on quali, which is not a good thing IMO. If so much is hanging on quali, quali becomes of outsize importance. If someone throws off quali and then benefits from it, instead of doing the conspiracy theory approach, maybe there should be punishment. In Indycar if you trigger certain sorts of flags during quali you get docked your best laps. So you can’t put up a number and either accidentally or purposefully ruin the session to lock yourself in. Accidents still happen but you remove the cheating incentive.

    Beyond that, I think some of this exposes the raw nerves of a title fight within Mercedes. Since F1 is more of a car series the superior cars tend to flock to the front alongside each other. Every year we seem to have the 1-2 squabble because it’s the best team to the front, together, and then they decide it between each other. Last year, Vettel and Webber. This, etc. This then wanders into the competing rationales of F1 as either “team sport” or individual competition. F1 fancies itself a team sport and often has team orders intended to enforce team-driven outcomes. But many drivers seem to see it as an individual competition. I am here to be world champion. In which case anything done by anyone else to hurt their chances, including a teammate, is undesired. You can also look at Massa and see some more of the anti team orders pushback this year. Not a very “team game’ season.

    • I think you’re right, it’s a case of Merc knowing they have this title in the bag and both drivers know it could be theirs with relative ease so they are trying to pick up the low-hanging fruit while it is there. Odd no one has started the “won’t this be a hollow championship” talk like they did with Vettel yet. :)

      • The Imperative Voice

        I think the feeling of inevitability starts to pick up steam when we’re talking Year 2 or 3 like with Red Bull. Then you get some combination of groans and “but it’s really the car.” But while Mercedes looks strong there’s enough season left for the possibility of reversal to have some mathematical support and intellectual validity. We don’t want to believe it’s this easily decided, and you can even look at Brawn for the potential of a second half fade that nonetheless leaves the Silver Arrows first.

        It’s a hard enough series it couldn’t be hollow. But it does tend to be a constructor’s series dominated by one team or a handful of teams, which encourages groans and complaining when your team is not winning.

        I watch F1 to see the best drivers, but I think it could learn from Indycar in terms of getting the cars similar enough to let the drivers decide who wins.

  • I think it was a heat of the moment decision; he overcooked it down the hill and in an instant said “Well, there’s the escape road……, oooooooh darn, yellow flags. Shoot.” I agree with Brundle’s analysis, in which he says he just doesn’t think Rosberg has the killer instinct (ref Bahrain and China, two races that were his to win) to concoct something like this as an act of premeditation.

    • The Imperative Voice

      And F1’s rules are set up more to punish those who hold up qualifying opposition by blocking — pointed at obvious cynics or the backmarkers in the way — than on accidentally or purposefully having an incident with the side effect of running out the clock. The general premise on clock-running is tough-tomatoes. You set your time early and if your second run gets kneecapped by a yellow them’s the breaks. But particularly on these narrow street circuits or the ones with little passing, that’s harsh. Now, Spa, Monza, etc., that’s another story.

  • i doubt you can have complete integrity in f1 fighting for a championship. i think its unfair for warick to say rosberg has more integrity than other drivers. i question his integrity because he celebrated after qualifying knowing that he probably got pole by default. if anything he should have been embarrassed or felt awkward about the result.

    • He just got pole for the Monaco GP, of course he should celebrate. He should feel guilty because Hamilton’s first lap wasn’t good enough to beat his first lap?

      • Brody

        Hamilton’s last attempt as Autosport’s Edd Straw said, ” Hamilton was faster in the first sector, Rosberg’s strongest, all the indicators are that he would have taken pole and almost certainly, victory as a result. “……..came to an end when his teammate brought out the yellow flags……….Remember that Lewis was only .059 sec. behind Rosberg’s fastest time, which looked like as if he was clearly going to beat..

        • JC

          Hamilton was faster in the first sector in the same lap than Nico had the error, but it was not faster than Nico’s pole lap. SkyF1 synced Nico’s pole lap with Lewis last attempt, and it showed that Nico’s was faster in the first sector, even Anthony Davidson admitted that Nico had a faster time in the first sector, so no one can say that Lewis was going to take pole.

          • And, Nico was consistently faster in sector 3 throughout qualifying.

          • Brody

            I have a copy of the Monaco race, and I wrote down the comments of both Steve Matchett and David Hobbs, commentators for NBCSports, during the latter part of Q3 qualifying on Saturday.

            Steve Matchet commentt….” Lewis had a personal best in the first sector of a 99 zero to Rosberg’s 99 five so he had the pace, but the yellow of his teammate caught him out, and scuppered his plan.”

            Steve Matchett later commentating to co-host Leigh Diffey regarding Rosberg’s problem said…..” well it may have been a tire pressurw error Leigh, but whatever caused it actually worked out to his advantage, because his teammate was……faster.

            David Hobbs comment when Rosberg pulled in to the pit area, after the completition of qualifying said……” Nico looking pretty chappy himself. I can see the way that Hamilton is putting his car together that he is not happy at all, but he was quicker in that first sector than Rosberg had been, and he knows that he could have got that pole, but he was denied by his teammate’s yellow flag.”

            It looks as though both Steve Matchett and David Hobbs would disagree with Anthony Davidson, regarding the first sector times.

  • Mark mentioned the Indycar thing in the podcast as The Imperative Voice does above — and I have to express my complete disagreement with it being a good idea.
    While I agree that a driver shouldn’t benefit from an off, I also don’t think they should have previous efforts taken away from them. If you punish mistakes like that, you create incentive to not take risks. I don’t want the drivers to be cautious. I want them push as hard as they possibly can. (Charsley is nodding his head as I type this, I’m sure). And in a qualifying format where drivers typically only do 2 laps — taking one away after a botched lap leaves them with none… IMO you don’t fix this by punishing the person who made the mistake. Either you eliminate the negative effect. E.g. Everyone gets an extra set of tires and 2 minutes on the clock. Or reward everyone else. E.g. For the effected lap, everyone who was on a hot lap (except the one who had the incident) gets to use their best sector time of the session , or maybe of the day. That would actually encourage more running to make sure you had a banker time for each sector.

    But however you do it, please don’t give the drivers an incentive to go slower.

    • Andreas

      I said it in the podcast thread too, but I’ll say it again: I’d keep Q1 and Q2 as they are now (including the Q2 run deciding what tyre to start on), and then I’d make Q3 (with the extra set of options) a one lap dash, like it used to be. Send them out in descending order – P10 first, then P9 and so on – and have them do one timed lap. If someone crashes, simply clear the wreck up and continue with the session. If someone mucks up a corner and have to reverse out of a run-off, then that’s their time.

      • I’m liking this idea more every time I hear it. I think television viewers would love it.

  • I dunno, I don’t think we need to tweak the rules every time there’s a minor incident. Everybody knows that it’s dangerous to come out late in Monaco. You better put down a quick lap soon because chances are that something happens. In fact, that’s precisely what the commentators on the German feed talked about before the Nico incident and if they know it, then everybody must know it. Even if Nico hadn’t caused a yellow flag, someone else easily might have as they all tried to push their limits once more, which in Monaco is always a very thin line with a guaranteed yellow flag as a consequence.

    Instead of sanitizing everything, the drivers simply should take these circumstances into account.

    • Which is why Nico had a strategy to be the first one out in every quali. session, come hell or high water. Maybe that’s what Lewis is pissed about – he and his “guys” didn’t think of it first.

  • Rob

    I kinda like the idea of the 1 lap single car thing of the past BUT they all moan about blocking and then sit on the seat for the first part of quali…… Even in the final quali it’s easy to get a clear slot if you don’t rely on hitting timing on the last second to be the last standing.

  • There is at least a theoretical advantage to going last, in that the track gets warmer and more “rubbered in” later in the session. At some tracks that won’t make much of a difference, but at Monaco, which notoriously improves as the weekend goes on, it could be a significant advantage. Not saying that’s particularly a problem, but just thought it was worth mentioning.

    On the other hand, this format was created expressly to have all the cars on the track at the same time — so single laps scuppers that notion.

  • I would feel better about this,if DEREK,would not have used that —MAN UP — comment about lewis. Going 200mph,in that crappy Mclaren for the last 4 or 5 years at spa,i could tell,HE WAS MAN ENOUGH DEREK.

    ALSO,your comment about NICO IS THE MOST HONEST GUY IN FORMULA ONE,was put to lie by MR. NIKI LAUDA HIMSELF DEREK. He clearly stated —- NICO CHEATED IN BAHRAIN and,the next race and,that time lewis KNEW HE WAS DOING IT AGAIN AND,RESPONDED.
    So far i am left to wonder,DID ALL OF THE STEWARDS AGREE ON THE VOTE.OR DID SOME BELIEVE THAT NICO SCUPPERED THE QUALI INTENTIONALLY.

    Also,was it that you all agreed he was innocent.OR YOU COULD NOT PROVE IT WAS INTENTIONAL.