Fuel for the Fire – An ulterior motive to going straight on?
The Italian Grand Prix was brilliant, the fans were great, the racing was incredible and the result has meant that the championship has closed up again. We got everything we want from racing, Jenson Button and Sergio Perez had some great wheel to wheel battles across the race distance and we got to witness Lewis at his best-charging back to victory after a worrying start. A perfect weekend of racing then? …Nearly. For some reason, every race weekend is slightly tainted by another Mercedes
conspiracy theory, and this weekend was no different. Sir Jackie Stewart came out after the race to say “It was a bit too easy” “I thought, ‘What’s going on here?” with regards to Lewis passing Nico after Nico went straight on into Turn 1. This wasn’t helped by the timing on the TV cutting to Toto Wolff, to see him smiling after Nico went straight on and Lewis took the lead. We highly doubt that Nico would just step aside, let his title rival cruise past and let the gap close up by 7 points, especially given the fact they haven’t been through the friendliest and best of times recently-only two races ago Lewis didn’t let Nico past when instructed in Hungary. So let’s kill the noise regarding that conspiracy theory. We, however, have a different slant on the whole series of events in Monza if you focus primarily on Number 6, Nico Rosberg. Look at the situation Nico found himself in. He hadn’t been quicker that Lewis all weekend apart from FP2, so it wouldn’t have been that huge a surprise to hear Lewis was closing the gap down during the race as he had looked comfortable and quick all weekend. The latter of the two was also on fresher tyres and he had DRS before passing the German. There has been a huge amount of gossip around the two Mercedes drivers this season, focusing especially on the tension between them and talk about the team stepping in with team orders or disciplinary action. We know that Nico is very good at just shrugging off this speculation and seems to perform very well every time, Lewis on the other hand is more emotional and seems to show a more obvious ebb and flow in his form. He needs to ride a wave of momentum to produce the dominant results we saw at the beginning of the season from Malaysia through to Spain, so what better way to take the edge off of his form than to just taint the result subtly. Both drivers know that everyone is talking about team orders and will they be asked to let the other past, so if Nico makes it look like that regardless of whether or not he was instructed to do so (which we still believe he wasn’t) it will give the impression Lewis didn’t win the race purely down to his speed and skill, people will question if other forces were in play and it takes some of the joy and momentum out of the whole result. So there are two scenarios. Scenario 1: Nico does make the corner, flat spots his tyre slightly, hangs on for a while but is passed by Lewis on the brakes or with the assistance of DRS? We think yes, Lewis would still have won the race regardless of Rosberg’s actions at this pivotal point. Scenario 2: Nico goes straight on, removing any fight for the position and slots in behind Lewis in second place, thus adding to existing conspiracy theories surrounding the team, detracting from the joy and celebration of the result for Lewis. Knowing how emotional Lewis is and how much it can affect his form if he is happy or angry, detracting from the result will slow Lewis’ mental momentum slightly. So has Nico Rosberg played the sly, evil genius card this weekend by using psychological warfare against his teammate without anyone realising what has really gone on? He slips under the radar, and the team end up taking the heat for what was made to look like a team order? If he can keep Hamilton slightly subdued he knows he will have a better chance of maintaining his championship lead as Lewis’ pace and form may waiver slightly with only 6 races to go. Clever stuff if there is any shred of truth behind our whole theory. What do you think? Plausible?