With the Belgian GP ramifications still ongoing, Nico Rosberg, playing the part of the big bad wolf, has been lambasted throughout the press for seemingly admitting to ramming Hamilton out of the grand prix lead.
In reality, Rosberg was most likely pointing to the fact that he didn’t avoid the accident as a mental and physical stand to some of Hamilton’s alleged over-defensive moves in previous races.
What could be the lasting damage from Sunday’s events though, is Hamilton’s reputation within the Mercedes hierarchy.
Unfortunately, the days where drivers can air out a team’s dirty laundry in public have long gone, and drivers are forced into lockdown in-between and after races. Their responses to questions are usually well rehearsed affairs from a PR textbook, more reminiscent of robots than the hot-blooded racers of the past.
And that takes us on to Lewis. Perhaps more ‘unacceptable,’ to quote Toto Wolff, than Rosberg’s on track behavior, is Lewis’ off in modern F1. Speaking so candidly about a matter we never would have heard about if it hadn’t been for him has caused huge publicity for Mercedes, and not in a good way.
Drivers will always crash, but as history has told us they won’t always be allowed to speak their mind. If indeed Mercedes are as upset with Lewis as Nico for the course of events on Sunday evening, then Lewis could well be in big trouble, as a replacement waits in the wings.
With the F1 silly season still to kick in to high gear, rumors have been floating around about a few drivers early, but the most high profile so far has been the Sebastian Vettel to Mercedes.
Despite Hamilton’s contract running until the end of 2015, Vettel has been linked on numerous occasions to a seat at Mercedes, not least because of his German nationality as well as his four title’s. The fallout from Spa could well gift Vettel the chance to take the Mercedes seat, should they decide that Lewis is too much of a loose cannon to be representing the manufacturer.
The other question is of course would Vettel leave Red Bull. Most likely, in a heartbeat. He has been thoroughly dressed down by his rookie team-mate this year in the same car, and a chance at a fresh start with Formula 1’s best engine would surely entice the German away from the Energy drinks giant.
Hamilton is undoubtedly one of the best drivers on the grid, many would argue better than Vettel, but that is an argument for a different debate. What would be sad is if indeed Lewis is ousted because of one too many outspoken remarks, because it makes Lewis who he is. After all, what is wrong with speaking your mind. It’s a lost art in many racing series these days.
No one turns on Formula 1 to listen to their heroes babble on about PR favorites ‘we’ll just have to wait and see’, or ‘I can’t comment until I’ve seen the replays’. F1 needs outspoken characters who speak their mind; it keeps things exciting and fuels debate inside and outside the paddock. It keeps the sport relevant.
Will Vettel indeed score Hamilton’s seat? Many still sit firmly on the wall as to whether Mercedes really have looked into replacing Lewis with Sebastian, but if they have, this weekend’s events may have just played into the German’s hands.
Credit to billyboes for images