Brought to you by TheJudge13 Contributor Nigel
Editors Note: With the fallout form yesterday’s Belgian Grand Prix and the subsequent analysis of the Hamilton/Rosberg incident, one of TJ13 readers believe we got it wrong with our analysis and submitted his own analysis. As it is a well reasoned argument we decided to publish it for the TJ13 community. While I appreciate emotions are still high from yesterday I urge everyone to debate in a clean and proper manner.
I decided to write this article when I thought that the video evidence was ignored in the article published yesterday.
Allow me to expand a little.
In the article it appears that two different sets of guidance on defending was conflated.
The first one is the March 2012 guidance, ahead of the season:
“A driver can make one move only to defend a position but when that driver then moves back onto the racing line to take a corner it can be construed as a second move, which is not allowed. It is a matter of deciding to what degree resuming the original line is acceptable.
“We don’t want to get into silly arguments about centimetres so we have decided the defending driver must leave at least one car width on the racing line otherwise he will be judged to have made a second move and penalised accordingly. We need to have drivers giving each other space on the track otherwise we risk dangerous collisions.”
The second one is the July 2012 memo, ironically issued in response to Rosberg’s “very marginal” sweeps across the track in Bahrain
“Any driver defending his position on a straight and before any braking area may use the full width of the track during his first move provided no significant portion of the car attempting to pass is alongside his. Whilst defending in this way the driver may not leave the track without justifiable reason.”
“For the avoidance of doubt, if any part of the front wing of the car attempting to pass is alongside the rear wheel of the car in front this will be deemed to be a ‘significant portion’.”
What (as far as I’m aware) has never been made explicit, is whether the test applied to defending on the straight, “any part of the front wing…alongside the rear wheel“, also applies to defending a corner ?
In any event, even if we are to accept that defending drivers have to be aware of a couple of inches overlap going in to a corner, and compromise their line accordingly – something that simply does not happen at the moment – Hamilton left a huge amount of room around the first turn Rosberg that was alongside.
The collision took place it the middle of the track just before the turn reversed.
Take a look at this angle from the Sky coverage, and watch frame by frame:
Rosberg entered the corner about a third of the way alongside Hamilton, and gradually fell back throughout the corner to the point of the collision where the overlap was a matter of inches.
From the beginning of the overtake, up until the moment Rosberg hit Hamilton, there was at least a car width outside not only Hamilton’s car, but also outside of Rosberg’s. At this point Rosberg had both the room and the ability to avoid collision, while Hamilton would have required ESP to do so.
Had Rosberg “held his line“, as Toto Wolff later put it, on the edge of the track, then I would agree with your interpretation of the strict rules. As he held his line in the middle of the track, I cannot see how he is not to blame for the collision.
IMO, both the strict Whiting guidance you claim (however ridiculous it might be, and however often in practice the stewards choose to ignore it), and common racing practice – let alone Rosberg’s own words on the matter – make it clear who was responsible.
“Nico felt he needed to hold his line,” said Wolff. “He needed to make a point. He didn’t give in. He thought it was for Lewis to leave him space and that Lewis didn’t leave him space.“(BBC)
But on the evidence, Hamilton had left Rosberg space, up until the point of the collision – when there was still a car’s width outside of Rosberg’s car, let alone outside of Hamilton’s.
If Rosberg was trying to prove a point, he chose a very strange way to do so. What is the message ? If you go into a corner with me behind you, I reserve the right to clip your rear tyre ?
Had Rosberg held his position further alongside Hamilton into the next turn, then it is conceivable that Hamilton might have been guilty of edging him off the track, or responsible for a collision. Though at that point, Rosberg would have been on the inside of the next turn.
That, however, is not what happened. From the video is seems either he was backing out of the manoeuvre, or that Hamilton was pulling away from him.