THE ONE TO BLAME? Nico Rosberg received the backlash in the aftermath of his and Lewis Hamilton's crash at the 2016 Spanish GP. Image: AP / Kamran Jebreili
Cape Town - For the first time in three races, at the 2016 Spanish GP, the Hammer, Lewis Hamilton, had a clean run in qualifying and duly nailed pole - after which he fluffed his umpteenth start since the introduction of manually operated hand clutches.
Into Turn One, a determined Nico Rosberg therefore had the chance to sweep across Hamilton’s bow and he did so imperiously.
Turn Two was business as usual.
READ: As it happened - 2016 Spanish GP
And then came Turn Three, a super long, super-fast right hander feeding into a short blitz down to Turn Four.
Wrong engine settings
Rosberg exited Three in the wrong engine mode. He had no pace. His car therefore failed to sling itself to the outer limits of the track. The German himself made no effort to go there either. He purposely hugged the middle of the track, so much the better to cover the nearby channel into Four, where Hamilton was destined to attack.
Which Hamilton did. He came at Rosberg. He came at him hard, catching hand over fist and sweeping diagonally across the tarmac to usurp the inside line.
In a flash, Hamilton had proceeded to pierce the gap between Rosberg and the edge of the track.
But an extremely determined foe had clearly resolved not to lose this war, come what may. Rosberg blocked right up to the edge of the world. Having no time to dab the brakes and pull out of his attempted pass, and to avoid contact, Hamilton instinctively flicked his car into no man’s land where he lost control, spun and collected Rosberg.
It was all over in one violent flash. Commentator David Coulthard blamed Rosberg straight away. Racer Anthony Davidson took his time to do a brilliant analysis afterwards, coming to the same conclusion: Rosberg simply drove Hamilton of the road.
READ: Spanish GP - Hamilton, Rosberg collide on opening lap
Yet, Niki Lauda accused Hamilton of being overly aggressive, which was another good example of three simple Formula 1 truths: (1) Lauda shoots his mouth off; (2) Lauda can’t actually think; and (3) Lauda is as useless as he used to be as an advisor for Ferrari and Jaguar.
He should be fired.
Sir Jackie Stewart ain’t much better. The Scot also blamed Hamilton, but that’s because Stewart, like Lauda, first take sides and then apportions blame. Hamilton’s ways are alien to the Scot. Therefore Lewis is always the culprit in Stewart’s eyes.
List of shady moves
Stewart never understood Senna either.
Yet, those who called Rosgate correctly, seemed to remember some other skeletons in Rosberg’s cupboard. Like a clumsy move at Spa 2014, where he, perhaps intentionally, drove into Hamilton. Like Monaco qualifying 2014, where Rosberg, perhaps intentionally, slid into an escape road to stop the session, which prevented Hamilton from going for pole on his final Q3 run.
Shades, there, of the other German who, intentionally, clattered into the barriers to spoil Fernando Alonso’s final qualifying run at the 2006 Monaco GP.
Those with longer memories will also remember how Rosberg ran Hamilton off the track completely, in Bahrain 2012, when The Hammer was still driving for McLaren.
And if, after Spain 2016, you were still sceptical about the underhand and vindictive nature of Rosberg’s racing, look no further than Austria 2016.
READ: 2016 Spanish GP - 5 memorable F1 moments
The Mercedes clash on Spanish soil nevertheless opened the door for a significant maiden Grand Prix victory. Max Verstappen was the name of an 18-year-old from Holland, newly promoted to Red Bull, who won first time out for the team to become the youngest F1 winner ever.
Not a big deal. His team mate, who should have won, got the poisoned end of a bad strategy stick. And Verstappen’s closest pursuer was a slow old man who, in his previous F1 life, used to be known as The Flying Finn.
So, the Dutch teenager just had to keep his Red Bull on the road to win - which even Maldonado once managed in Barcelona.