Lewis Hamilton would gladly have his teammate Nico Rosberg take the ice-bucket challenge—except he’d replace the ice with rocks and water with acid. While the rivalry has just reached a new level of fun for bored F1 viewers, it can’t be all smiles and bubbles inside the Mercedes camp.
While Team Chief Toto Wolff promises strict action against the young Champion-in-waiting German, this seems like one of those incidents Wolff and Rosberg will laugh about on a drunken night following his maiden World Championship victory. “All is fair in races and war” is the German motto, something that predecessors (?) Schumacher and Vettel have sworn by while climbing up the ladder, and Rosberg seems to show that same ruthlessness while cutting down Hamilton into threads of frustration.
The Belgian Grand Prix was a heady affair, only because of two drivers that will stop short of killing eachother. They are also teammates for a team that is head and shoulders above competition at the moment. But then, this was the exact situation McLaren found themselves in during the 2010 World Championship—where Alonso and (surprise surprise) Hamilton were warring teammates jostling for the no. 1 position.
Vettel in Red Bull came into the final race of the season placed fourth behind teammate Webber and the warring twosome, only to snatch victory at Abu Dhabi and leave Brit Hamilton to consider how he keeps rubbing teammates the wrong way. He is fiercely competitive, and it was perhaps not his fault that Rosberg clipped his rear tyre at Les Combes while doing battle. Team Chief Wolff claims it was unintentional and that Rosberg overstepped the line instead of backing off, while Hamilton claims it was absolutely intentional and that Rosberg even admitted it. Of course, Rosberg claims it was unintentional and unfortunate, but that he had to protect his position—indirectly putting the blame on Hamilton.
While the Mercedes team garage must be a boiling mess, it was young Australian and Red Bull No. 1 Ricciardo that eased home to clinch his 3rd win of a breakthrough season where he has not only outraced World Champion teammate and legend Vettel but is sole owner of the only three non-Mercedes wins of the season. Hamiltom limped his way through his race, unable to storm from the back this time, and finally retired on the 40th lap, while Rosberg made a late charge towards Ricciardo catching him at three seconds a lap towards the end, before being told to lay off and settle for second.
Chaos followed behind as Bottas claimed his second podium of a debut season, and Raikkonen finally got a favourable finish at 4th this season. Vettel managed fifth ahead of a chasing pack that involved Button and Alonso. They are mere footnotes in a season that has seen the best and worst of two teammates—with Rosberg now a full 29 points ahead of Hamilton with 7 races to go.
This could be a telling blow, his second place and Hamilton’s non-finish at Belgium, especially for Ricciardo who is quietly closing in on Hamilton in clear third place in the Championship now. His disqualified 2nd place in Melbourne would have put him right in the mix, but he isn’t too far away.
Don’t look away yet, folks. As long as Hamilton is on a team that had an equally good driver, F1 will remain mercurial and far from boring.