This year has probably been the most divisive season in Formula One since the Senna/Prost era at McLaren in the late 1980’s. That does not mean that the following driver rivalry comes anywhere close to that rivalry. The continued dominance of Mercedes means that one of Nico Rosberg or Lewis Hamilton will win the World Driver’s Championship. That lends itself to one particular problem.
The sheer dominance of Mercedes has led to there being only two serious title contenders this year, as Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg lock horns for this year’s honour. The two previously great mates have seen their relationship turn somewhat frosty as their championship battle threatens to turn ugly. Since Rosberg’s mistake (Yes, it was just a mistake) at Monaco we’ve been constantly subjected to headlines about a ‘psychological battle’, and whilst that will come into it, the psychological battle has barely gotten started yet. The sledging will come in Asia, and only then will we see the strength of each driver.
But by far the most annoying thing about what should be a tantalising teammate battle between two magnificent is the reactions on social media of quite a number of conspiracy theorists. There are these such people on both sides, although Hamilton’s corner has no doubt been the most prominent in the social media battle of the bozo’s.
Due to Lewis’ appalling luck in recent qualifying sessions in Germany and Hungary coupled with two retirements this year, a small but albeit well-covered and ultimately now notorious bunch have decided that Mercedes, his own team, are out to get him. This defies all logic of any team top brass. Even that of Flavio Briatore, who infamously asked Nelson Piquet to back into the wall at Singapore to help out Fernando Alonso. The circumstances were completely different, although no less foul than what has been suggested.
Do these people honestly think for one moment that Mercedes would tamper with the brakes? Or cause an oil leak to set his engine on fire? Or make his electrics fail? Some of these people display the same F1 knowledge as a meerkat has about fly-fishing.
It is almost tragic that they follow our sport. Never before this year in all of the fourteen years have I seen anything like this, at anywhere near the frequency. It would be half-understandable if there was any fact behind Mercedes supporting Nico over Lewis. Last year, Nico Rosberg retired three times. Lewis Hamilton retired once. Nobody claimed foul play on the part of Mercedes last year.
This year, Lewis has had two retirements in addition to two mechanical failures in qualifying. Nico has had one gearbox failure in a race situation. The qualifying problems have in all likelihood cost him 16 points, if all of the races had ran smoothly. However, in Hungary it actually served to benefit him, simply because of when the Safety Car came out.
If he had been at the front, he would not have been able to make up ground on German in the pit stops to make the switch from Intermediates to Slick tyres. It will never be known how much Lewis cost Nico when he refused to move over for him, but again it would be foolish in the extreme to suggest it was to solely aid Nico Rosberg. Mercedes jumped the gun in giving the order as Nico was catching very quickly, but they will have been eyeing the race victory, which at that point Nico would have been in the best position to do had Lewis behaved himself. Mercedes were simply looking to get as many Constructors points as possible. Case closed.
It isn’t just one-sided, as a very small minority of Rosberg’s following were irate after his gearbox failure cost him a victory at Silverstone. However, they are nowhere near as frequent as those following the other side of the garage.
None of these people do the reputation of your average Formula One fan any good whatsoever, with outsiders now seeing the conspiracy theorists at work and guffawing with laughter. Those people will look at the conspiracy theorists (And I’m being very kind) and make the assumption that a fair amount of Formula One fans are of a similar vein. With social media, especially Twitter, now playing host to a lot of Formula One fan interactions, that could spell trouble for people wanting to get involved in future.
So, I ask those who claim foul play of Mercedes one thing. Only state so if you have concrete evidence of Mercedes deliberately hampering one of their drivers title chance. Otherwise, you do nothing to maintain the reputation of one of the most peaceful communities out there.