London - Nico Rosberg will fly from his home in Monaco to next weekend’s race in Monza with an untroubled 29-point lead in the Formula One drivers’ championship to show for his controversial driving in last Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.
To the German’s critics, the six-figure fine imposed by his Mercedes team after his second-lap crash with title rival and team-mate Lewis Hamilton is scant punishment: he is a multi-millionaire for whom donating a fraction of his earnings to charity is a minuscule price to pay.
But Max Mosley, the former president of motor racing’s governing body, the FIA, believes Mercedes did Rosberg a disservice by divulging that they were disciplining him for a crash that ended Hamilton’s race while he went on to finish second.
“In every respect but one I think Mercedes dealt with the incident in the right way,” said Mosley. “If they decided to fine or punish Rosberg they should not have announced it. It’s as if the team are blaming him publicly. That’s not really right.”
Many observers suggested the FIA should have investigated after Hamilton claimed Rosberg admitted he had deliberately caused the incident at Les Combes as they sparred for the lead.
It was said that Mosley’s FIA, which was proactive to an occasionally mischievous degree, would have intervened in contrast to the more passive regime of the current president, former Ferrari team principal Jean Todt.
But Mosley, who was in charge from 1993 to 2009, disagrees. He said: “The way I see it (and I’m on the outside now) is that the very experienced race director [Charlie Whiting] and the stewards decided to act because it was a ‘racing incident’. That was more or less that. It was a minor incident with serious consequences. What the drivers did or not say afterwards is not clear. On that basis the FIA could not get involved.
“It’s then a matter for the team. A lot goes on behind closed doors. What is unusual is announcing it. Personally, I wouldn’t have done that.”
Rosberg’s fine was the upshot of a two-hour meeting between the drivers and their bosses, Toto Wolff and Paddy Lowe, at in Brackley on Friday.
With Mercedes’ management having been criticised for perceived naivety this season, their hard line must be interpreted, at least in part, as an attempt to show Hamilton, their boardroom and the public that they have reasserted their authority.
It has been suggested Rosberg could be forced to yield position, either in a future qualifying session or a grand prix, or even be handed a race ban. But Wolff rejected such speculation, saying: “The team discussed at length what the consequences could be.
“But there is one thing we stand for at Mercedes-Benz, and this is racing, straight and fair racing, and we remain committed to that. Both drivers are racing at the absolute limit against each other, and we are not going to interfere in the race result, or pre-agree any race result. This is not what we will ever do.
“When the racing happens we need to react sometimes, but we will not pre-agree in favour of one or the other. This is not what we do.”
The effectiveness of Mercedes’ action will be seen in the closing seven races.
“The proof of the pudding will be in the eating,” admitted a team insider.
Next course, Monza.
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