Mercedes team-mates? Mates isn’t the correct term when this pair hit the track.
A last-lap collision between Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton has again put team orders - or their absence - at the Silver Arrows team under scrutiny and is sure to keep the rivalry between the warring pair simmering into the second half of the season.
Rosberg has been penalised – although it’s effectively a slap with a chiffon scarf – after stewards found him to blame in the contact with Hamilton, who recovered to overtake the German to take victory in an exciting Austrian Grand Prix.
Rosberg, who said later he had brake problems, turned into a corner a little later as Hamilton daringly tried to pass him around the outside. With his front wing damaged, both Max Verstappen (Red Bull) and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen got by with Rosberg taking the flag in fourth, his lead in the world championship subsequently reduced to 11 points.
Nico Rosberg was later given a 10-second time penalty for causing a collision with his team-mate. But the penalty is meaningless, as Rosberg retained his fourth placing, ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Riccardo.
The stewards concluded that Rosberg was at fault for not allowing Hamilton "racing room" and so was guilty of causing the collision.
The stewards' statement read: "Having taken note of the extensive evidence given by both drivers and the video and telemetry data, it was apparent that car #44 [Hamilton] was in front of car #6 [Rosberg] - i.e. more than fully alongside. The driver of car #44 could have clearly made the turn on the track, if not for the resultant collision.”
Now firmly back in the title hunt, Hamilton said about Rosberg on the podium: "He made a mistake into Turn One and I had an opportunity to go around the outside in Turn Two. I left a lot of room on the inside and I guess he looked up and crashed into me."
The latest in a series of on-track incidents between the two Mercedes drivers will be causing plenty of introspection within the team, as it prides itself of allowing its two stars to race without the burden of team orders. This philosophy may come under review following another failure by the pair to race cleanly.
Hamilton had to wear a crescendo of booing from the mainly German-Austrian crowd,
Mercedes confirmed that Rosberg’s car had had a brake-by-wire failure during the end of the penultimate lap.
Rosberg admitted he was "absolutely gutted" by the outcome which has resulted in his points lead looking under serious threat from the reborn Hamilton.
Earlier, in Saturday’s damp track conditions, Hamilton took a brilliant pole position, more than half-a-second faster than Rosberg, who was then demoted to sixth because of a gearbox penalty.
Hamilton was unchallenged early into the race, while Rosberg had to fight his way by Force India's Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren's Jenson Button to slot into third behind Hamilton and Raikkonen.
Some questionable pit calls from Mercedes allowed Rosberg to move closer and then Hamilton was delayed by a problem with a rear wheel and Rosberg claimed the lead.
Until the dramatic last lap.
“I think for the team it was a really good day, said Australia’s Ricciardo, after battling to fifth. “Obviously I wish I was up there with Max, but from my side the race was a bit disappointing. At the beginning we seemed to get passed before Turn 8 which is not normal, so that was a bit frustrating but then once it settled we just weren’t quick. I was obviously trying to push on the tyre and then get what I could out of it. It seemed we could hold the pace, but then when everyone was improving and getting quicker and quicker we were just getting slower and slower. For now I just want to understand why and look into it.”
Quickly too. The British Grand Prix is next weekend.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel crashed out when a tyre blew after clipping the kerb.
Behind Ricciardo in sixth was McLaren's Jenson Button, who drove a strong race to convert his third on the grid to a strong points finish.
Norwegian Mikkelsen claims dramatic victory in Rally Poland
Heartbreak for Ott Tanak as puncture robs him of maiden WRC win
Andreas Mikkelsen snatched a dramatic last-gasp victory at the 73rd Rally Poland on Sunday when long-time leader Ott Tänak was cruelly deprived of a breakthrough FIA World Rally Championship win.
Tänak’s Ford Fiesta RS slowed with a puncture in the penultimate rain-soaked speed stage, wiping out his near-20sec lead and allowing VW driver Mikkelsen to claim a second WRC success.
In what is becoming the most unpredictable WRC season yet, Mikkelsen became the sixth different winner in the last six rounds.
“We pushed so hard all weekend and with the weather as it was today we knew it was going to be difficult and we gave it everything,” said the popular driver, who also knows what it is like to have a win stolen from him almost in sight of the finish (in Sweden on the last stage in 2015, when he spun out). It was like a war in the penultimate stage and it was all about luck, who got out without problems, and we were the lucky ones.”
Mikkelsen commiserated with the upset Estonian.
“I told Ott before the final stage that I felt so sorry for him. It would have been an adventure story but that’s the way rallying is. It’s very unpredictable,” said the Finn, who has now moved to second in the points, behind his VW team-mate Sebastien Ogier.
Tänak had been brilliant on the sandy but lightning fast Polish roads since Friday afternoon and was inconsolable at the finish. “There’s nothing I can say. All this and then you get nothing, it’s too hard,” he said.
Kiwi Hayden Paddon completed the podium in a Hyundai i20, ending a spate of shunts in the previous two rounds. His team-mate Thierry Neuville was fourth, jus 0.8sec away.
Hot and cold Jari-Matti Latvala finished fifth, a further 4.5sec back in another Volkswagen Polo R. Team-mate Ogier was sixth, the championship leader admitting conditions were so bad that simply surviving the final day was his sole aim.
Poland marked the midpoint of the 14-round campaign and the second half begins with Rally Finland on July 28 – 31.
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