Whether you believe that Nico Rosberg deliberately made a mistake to prevent Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton from taking pole position, there is no doubt that it is unfair for a driver who is behind on the road, to lose a last minute chance to take pole through someone else’s actions.
So what can be done to prevent this happening again?
The same thing happened in Monaco in 2006, for which Michael Schumacher was moved to the back of the grid. However in Rosberg’s case the Stewards could find no absolute proof that he had done it deliberately, so took no further action.
“It is a big decision to make when you are deciding to move a driver to the back of the grid, FIA steward Derek Warwick told the Daily Mail. “It was doubly important to get it right because it could affect many things — probably the outcome of the race and possibly of the world championship.
“We had all Mercedes’ data, including Lewis’s data to overlay on Nico’s. We had the FIA data. We had onboard shots, overhead shots, circuit shots. We had throttle traces, braking traces, everything we needed to make, hopefully, the right decision.”
The stewards found that both men had braked 8m later for St Devote on that lap than the previous one, so were clearly pushing harder. Rosberg turned in too tight to the left hander at the entry of Casino Square, which pushed him off line on the exit and he knew at that point that he had lost time.
But the Stewards’ decision didn’t give Hamilton a chance to make up for the opportunity he had lost.
FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting has suggested that perhaps one solution could be adding some extra time onto the end of qualifying, to allow the drivers who were blocked to have another go. This would work, but they probably would not have any new tyres left at that late stage of the qualifying session.
Another suggestion, from some of the engineers working in F1, is to delete the fastest time of the driver who causes the problem. This would act as a powerful incentive not to deliberately cause a hazard. Monaco is a particular problem, but this could happen anywhere so it is something that needs addressing. This is a harsher sanction and drivers would feel they were walking a tight-rope, as mistakes could have serious consequences.
This is one of those situations where the sporting element of F1 needs protecting and certainly a better solution needs to be found than the one we have at present.