"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."