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Benefit Of The Doubt

FEATURE BY GUEST AUTHORS
06/06/2014

"The Boy doesn't have it in him," was 'Judge' Martin Brundle's view of the evidence after Nico Rosberg was called by the Stewards at the Monaco Grand Prix. What had Nico done to bring his behavior on track into question?

In the dying moments of Qualifying, as Nico's Mercedes WO5 Hybrid hurtled down the hill from Casino Square to Mirabeau, both car and driver suddenly became unglued. First there was a feeble lock-up of the right front wheel by Rosberg as he braked late, followed by a visible stuttering of the chassis and a wobbling of the steering wheel as if the chassis had gone out of alignment and finally the decision by Rosberg seemingly to abort the lap by veering left down the escape road instead of continuing to turn right around Mirabeau the corner down towards the hairpin. Rosberg then apparently tried to reverse as if to rejoin the fray, acting totally flummoxed.

Needless to say, all this frantic activity at Mirabeau Corner brought out the yellow flag with less than a minute remaining, thus ruining the qualifying laps of several of the drivers still out on the track busting their chops to put in their best lap, including Rosberg's teammate Lewis Hamilton, the German's chief challenger for the pole position, having taken pole at three out of the previous five races thus far in 2014. Rosberg said afterwards that he was not sure where Hamilton was behind him. With everyone else's session brought to an artificially early halt, the German's earlier banker lap became pole position.

Summoned by the Stewards

Hamilton's gloom at the Qualifying press conference showed that he smelled a rat. Hamilton was already a few tenths up on Rosberg in Sector 1 and had set the fastest Sector 2 time on previous laps so he had every reason to believe that he was faster than Nico on the day. Race Director Charlie Whiting also thought the incident looked to be worth investigating by the Stewards of the Meeting and sent them a message to do so.

As of 16:35, the paddock rumor mill was working overtime as the Stewards posted Document No. 28 (Pdf) of the race weekend on the FIA bulletin board, stating that "the driver [of car 6, Nico Rosberg] and team representative are required to report to the Stewards at [17:15 PM] in relation to the incident below." The reason for Rosberg being summoned was stated tersely and with no detail: "Qualifying Turn 5 incident at 14:59."

Where was the Indictment of Charges?

It is a fundamental feature of due process that the accused be given notice of the charges preferred against him and surprisingly, the Stewards did not give the F1 press corps or Rosberg/Mercedes the courtesy of citing what provisions of the F1 Sporting Regulations he was charged with violating.

Looking through the F1 Sporting Regulations, they had a number of potential breaches of various Articles that could conceivably have grown out of this one split-second incident at Mirabeau.

An "incident" under the FIA Sporting Regulations is any occurrence or series of occurrences which constitutes a breach of the Sporting Regulations.

Article 20.2 states that "a driver may not deliberately leave the track without justification... a driver will be judged to have left the track if no part of the car remains in contact with the track.

Article 20.5 states the "manoeuvres liable to hinder other drivers, such as deliberate crowding of a car beyond the edge of the track or any other abnormal change of direction, are not permitted".

Article 20.2 also provides that "should a car leave the track the driver may rejoin, however, this may only be done when it is safe to do so and without gaining any lasting advantage".

It will be recalled that in the initial press conference after Qualifying, Nico Rosberg conceded that he had reversed out of the escape road while Qualifying was still in progress, saying "of course I am sorry for what happened to Lewis. I didn't know where exactly [Lewis] was but once I was reversing I did see he was coming up so, um, of course, yeah, that's not great but that's the way it is."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by blackdog, 24/06/2014 8:50

"I am sorry but this article is complete and utter nonsense from beginning to end.
First, it is ridiculous and entirely unjust to compare the Schumacher Monaco incident with that of Rosberg. We all know Schu did it quite deliberately and he was punished accordingly.
Second. If you know Nico Rosberg at all, you would know that he is not capable of cheating. Granted, his attempt to reverse was ill considered, in the heat of the moment. It was a mistake, but in my view an honest error of judgement.
Third, if you know Derek Warwick, as I do, and have for many years, you would also know that with all of the video images and precise engineering data at his disposal, not only is he totally qualified to investigate and give a valid assessment regarding the incident, but that he is also more than capable of figuring out if Nico did it deliberately as he questioned him face to face. You can't pull the wool over Derek's. He has far too much experience and knowledge as an ex-F1 driver.
To suggest that he and his fellow stewards, during an investigation which lasted several hours, did not conduct a thorough and competent job, is nothing short of insulting, and in my view, this ill considered article calls Derek' s integrity into question.
Shame on you!
"

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2. Posted by MrShadow, 16/06/2014 13:01

"Stewards now should look in to the race in Canada, as Rosberg drove in front of Hamilton for a long time, causing the brakes of Hamilton to overheat. Surely there must be an article in the regulations disallowing that."

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3. Posted by lex, 14/06/2014 12:41

""The Stewards failure to analyze the Monaco Q3 incident thoroughly and convincingly will forever leave an element of doubt hanging over Nico Rosberg's reputation," writes Thomas O'Keefe.
Tommy Tommy Tommy, you give the press WAY too much credit. Listening to the question posed by the press to drivers proves my point. The press sit around and dream up all these machinations and then pose them as questions. Drivers don't have time for that crap. Only when found guilty would one have a shadow of doubt cast over oneself.
The action of Nico's hands are quite normal in such a situation. If you break it down in terms of slo-mo video replay, you can easily conceive of conspiracy. However...unless one has driven a race car either in qually or the race, you have NO idea. The split second reactions and thoughts going on in the mind are lightning fast. A possible scenario would be: "Crap, I've overcooked it, I'll take the run-off, no I can make it....crap, no I can't." That can all happen in less than a second. The Schumacher incident at La Rascasse in '06 was clear...they looked at the telemetry and video of his previous laps. That sealed his fate. They diid the same with Nico and it was clear he tried too hard and overcooked the entry. Crash and block the road or take DEEP to the runoff so others may still get by. FIA threw the yellow too early. If they hadn't, HamNCheese might have made pole, he may not...we'll never ever know."

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4. Posted by gturner38, 13/06/2014 1:45

"It seems the author wanted the stewards to grasp at every straw possible to punish Rosberg. Citing 20.2 regarding safely rejoining the track is pointless since no one ever suggested he returned to the track in an unsafe manner. Likewise, 20.5 is not in play since it is meant to cover blocking. It's not meant to punish drivers for responding to a lockup by finding an escape road rather than hitting a barrier. Moving on to 30.2, every car that goes onto an escape road and gets turned around would be in violation of that. Again, 30.4 is not in play if the stewards determine he had lost control and was avoiding an accident, otherwise every car that spins is in violation. 30.13 is meant to cover cars that are weaving across the track or cruising back to the pits at absurdly slow speeds such as happened when there was no refueling after Q3. 31.7 is basically a repeat of 30.4. As for 33.2, that is meant to cover what happens when a car stops on track and cannot get back to the pits. In particular, a car that has a time good enough to move on to Q2 but is stuck on track during Q1 will not be recovered. It is not meant to punish a driver who comes to a stop when they have an incident and keeps on going.

For any of those rules to come into play, the officials would have to come to the conclusion that he parked on purpose. If they looked at the data, determined that he was just pushing harder than the previous lap and lost it, then there is no reason to cite all of those regulations. Note that they cited them in the Ricciardo case because they found Red Bull to be guilty.

For anyone who is accusing him of doing this on purpose, i think you are giving Rosberg way too much credit. From the time he was going through Casino Square until he reached the braking zone for Mirabeau, he would have had to realize he lost time, decide to shift from trying to set a pole time to deliberately sabotaging the session, and figure out how to make it look reasonably convincing. If you told me he spun on purpose at the Nouveau Chicane after making a mistake at the Casino, I'd be more likely to entertain the idea, but this is really pushing the limit for anybody to be that crafty."

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5. Posted by Pyrope, 12/06/2014 16:59

"Blimey, I don't know when I've seen such an ill-considered, ignorant, uninformed diatribe recently. When civil authorities investigate a reported incident they do not start by indicting all and sundry with whatever charges they think might be appropriate. They start by gathering evidence to see whether, in fact, any laws have been breached. This commonly involves interviewing suspects, victims and witnesses, as well as collecting third-party evidence such as CCTV footage and physical evidence. These were exactly the steps that the stewards took in Monaco.

When civil authorities determine that no crime has actually been committed they release any person under suspicion "without charge", not "without having been charged with rape" or "without having been charged with theft". If the stewards decided that no infraction had been committed then that's all they could and should say, and that is indeed what they did say."

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6. Posted by ClarkwasGod, 12/06/2014 13:49

"Mr. O'Keefe disagrees with the Stewards' decision. That is his prerogative. However, casting a slight on their competence does nothing to advance his argument.

Having copied verbatim the decision handed down, he then complains that no rules were cited in this statement. This is nonsensical. The Stewards "could find no evidence of any offense related to the turn 5 incident... No offense was committed by the driver of car 6". So no rules were broken. So, surely, there is no requirement to detail any rules (that weren't broken).

"

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7. Posted by karel, 10/06/2014 10:33

"To my opinion Rosberg didn't break any regulation. It was a pure accident of too late braking. Just as what happened during the GP of Canada (severall times). It is the media who want to make a point of this. Indeed I remember Senna and Prost and Prost being the smarter guy. Is this part of the game ? I don't know, dus it add to the spectacle ? yes indeed. But also now Rosberg proves to be the faster guy in Canada, so things will turn around and turn around and at the end we will see, who wins this 1600cc battle"

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8. Posted by White Lightning, 09/06/2014 12:59

"I agree with your assessment of Rosberg, alexf1, but can you not post in all caps next time?

Cheers,
WL"

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9. Posted by alexf1, 09/06/2014 12:55

" ROSBERG AGAIN DEMONSTRATED HE IS NOT ONLY FAST BUT VERY INTELLIGENT , LOOKS LIKE LEWIS CANNOT COUNT ON SHEER SPEED TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP.

SEEMS A BIT HARSH TO PENALISE CHILTON FOR LOOSING THE BACK END, OK THE RESULT WAS PRETTY AWFUL BUT ALL HE DID WAS GET OUT OF SHAPE A BIT AND HOW MANY DRIVERS HAVE DONE THAT . TO PUNISH DRIVERS FOR A RACING INCIDENT , LOOSING THE BACK END SEEMS ABSURD. MAYBE THE STEWARDS WILL ONLY BE HAPPY WHEN DRIVERS ARE REPLACED WITH PERFECT, ELECTRONIC ROBOTS"

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10. Posted by airman1, 09/06/2014 6:48 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 09/06/2014 9:54)

"This comment was removed by an administrator as it was judged to have broken the site's posting rules and etiquette."

Rating: Neutral (0)

11. Posted by airman1, 09/06/2014 6:46 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 09/06/2014 9:54)

"This comment was removed by an administrator as it was judged to have broken the site's posting rules and etiquette."

Rating: Neutral (0)

12. Posted by Tommy Tipper, 09/06/2014 2:21 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 09/06/2014 9:54)

"Ridiculous article. I imagine "Judge" Brundle has a better understanding than this hack"

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13. Posted by Aitch, 08/06/2014 14:45

"Unfortunately, this is the F1 we have to put up with these days, where someone puts a wheel off the racing line and officials start reaching for the yellow flags. I'm no fan of Rosberg, but I highly doubt that this was something done deliberately, as he has the edge without having to resort to Schumacher-like shenanigans.

It's starting to look like Rosberg will go on to become World Champion, but at the end of it all, will it really matter? Where's the competition? The other teams are there just to get the scraps from the table, while his own team-mate can't get over his own ego and self-entitlement long enough to remain consistent. As far as mental preparation goes, this battle has already been decided. "

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14. Posted by scf1fan, 06/06/2014 17:16 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 09/06/2014 9:54)

"Personally I'd say there is a possibility of a high BS factor in this. Of Rosberg’s incident I can only comment from watching it on the TV, but I would ask this question; did he come back out onto or "near enough" to the track to warrant a yellow flag? It didn't look as if that were the case. I was quite surprised from the coverage that I saw that they yellow was thrown at all. Rosberg's "off" wasn't due to a vehicle failure of any kind and did not result in any debris or damage to the car or the track. If, as it appeared to me, he was far enough up the escape road, (it did not appear that he stopped on the track let alone the racing line) and regardless as to if he was trying to re-enter the fray, why was the yellow thrown? If it's always going to be "better to be safe than sorry," then every last minute/second incident will be questioned. Is every racing incident now going to involve a raft of psychoanalysts as well as the current troop of lawyers, engineers and video eye witnesses? (The “shrinks” will be there to determine the "intent" of the driver post incident. Perhaps momentary “insanity” will become an acceptable defense?) I do not fault the track side marshals for throwing the flag, but I do believe that under the circumstances that I saw, they should have "let them race" till the end of the period. Perhaps it’s not a driver issue . . . perhaps Monaco is just past it's time, (where any foot wrong results in this kind of issue) or the rules should be adjusted accordingly. "

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