IN the mischievous and Byzantine world of Formula One conspiracy theories are not always easy to dismiss with total confidence â€“ but the idea that Nico Rosberg deliberately made mistakes to allow Lewis Hamilton to win Sundayâ€™s Italian Grand Prix continued to attract scorn day.
Jenson Button was unequivocal: â€œI donâ€™t think any driver would do that. No driver. It is a stupid theory. No driver would do that.â€ Hamilton, who apparently found the suggestion derisory, refused to comment.
The idea that Rosberg, under team orders, had taken a dive to atone for crashing into the Englishman in the previous race in Spa, was laughed off as â€œparanoidâ€ by Mercedesâ€™ motorsport chief, Toto Wolff, on Sunday evening. On Monday morning the team tweeted a picture of pigs flying alongside the caption: â€œBREAKING NEWS: Dramatic scenes in the skies over Brackley as #NR6 hands #ItalianGP victory to #F1 WDC rival #LH44â€¦â€, using the official hashtags of both drivers. Meanwhile Rosberg simply tweeted â€œI made a mistake.â€
Sir Jackie Stewart, who had added some rocket fuel to the conspiracy theory on Sunday, sounded less than gracious when asked about Hamilton passing his tally of 27 grand prix victories. â€œHow many grands prix has he raced in?â€ he said. â€œClearly there are more races run today than when Nigel [Mansell, the leading British driver with 31 victories] or I was racing. Itâ€™s the batting average that really counts.â€
Stewart had 99 starts while Hamilton has made 142. Stewart also seemed reluctant to welcome Hamilton to the pantheon of the truly great drivers. â€œHe was created by McLaren, which at that time had one of the most successful teams in the world. As a young driver he had a wonderful position from the beginning. And then heâ€™s joined Mercedes-Benz, again one of the most powerful and influential names in the history of motorsport. And heâ€™s a very competent driver.
â€œThe combination of a good car and a good driver is tough to beat. I think heâ€™s earned it. Heâ€™s still only in his late 20s. I retired when I was 34. Michael Schumacher was in his 40s when he retired. So thereâ€™s a long future ahead of him. So heâ€™ll accumulate a lot more victories because heâ€™s a desirable driver for any team to have, particularly a multi-national.â€
When asked which Mercedes driver he would put his money on for the title, he said: â€œIâ€™m a Scotsman. I donâ€™t put money on things like that. Itâ€™s very difficult to say. Nico has got less emotional baggage. Lewis is still quite emotional as weâ€™ve seen since the incidents, whether it be Monaco or anywhere else for that matter.
â€œThe mind-management issue is a big thing in my book. So in that respect Nico would probably be at a slight advantage. Lewis should be a multiple world champion by now but I think he will go and do that.â€
Hamilton himself has more important things to think about after his victory on Sunday, his sixth of the season, cut Rosbergâ€™s championship lead to 22 points with six races remaining.
Most particularly he is thinking about how Rosberg appeared to crack under pressure, going straight on at the chicane for the second time in the race to surrender the lead. Does he have the psychological edge? â€œI donâ€™t have the points edge, thatâ€™s for sure,â€ said Hamilton. â€œBut time will tell how the psychological battle will go.
â€œI came here with the same kind of positive energy Iâ€™ve had in the previous races. Maybe this weekend I had even more energy and just managed to push through everything. I had confidence before, so itâ€™s not really changed. It kind of solidifies that confidence really. [Sometimes] the car might not be just right and you canâ€™t catch up but we did a really good job this weekend as I think weâ€™ve done for a while now.â€
â€œThis weekend Iâ€™ve had quite a few problems, missed almost a whole session in P2 then in qualifying in Q2 the car wouldnâ€™t start again, but fortunately it started, and the start sequence which could have been a lot worse. That was the best it could ever be considering I didnâ€™t have the launch. Iâ€™m just looking forward, head down and see no reason why I canâ€™t be as fast moving forwards.â€
This was a fine victory for the manifestly quicker Hamilton. It was just a shame that his exemplary drive was partly devalued by the distraction of the conspiracy-theory rubbish. – The Guardian