Crash.net's team in the F1 paddock brings you our view of the the sport and the stories bubbling away during the United States Grand Prix

The mind games - may the odds ever be in your favour

Anyone with even a passing interest in motorsport couldn't have avoided the hubbub surrounding the controversial clash between Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez in the Malaysian MotoGP, with even members of the F1 paddock discussing it as we arrived on Sunday.

Some even joked that F1 could up the ante by getting one of Hamilton or Rosberg to bop the other on the head as they attempted a pass... and yet that is exactly what we got, though perhaps more figuratively than literally.

From the outside looking in, Hamilton and Rosberg's first turn clash was clumsy, but little more than that. Limited grip, little running in evolving conditions and a corner that traditionally invites a variety of lines. Hamilton got away with it with a spot of 'champion's luck' as Toto Wolff termed it. Evidently aggrieved, Rosberg proceeded to channel the red mist into arguably his most aggressive and convincing performance of 2015, at least until he bungled the run in towards the end to hand victory to Hamilton.

Nobody likes losing, least of all to your team-mate (again) in a race you should have rightly triumphed in, but Rosberg's pouts on the podium and pointed criticism after seemed sulkier than usual. That said, tossing caps at one another in the podium room didn't exactly raise the maturity level for Hamilton either.

Indeed, if anything, before the press conference we had all but forgotten about the clash in the wake of a thrilling race with an extraordinary conclusion on a bizarre weekend, while Rosberg was in many ways considered the 'man of the race' even with his late error.

Yet, as Mercedes celebrated another title, Toto Wolff barely had any words to say about Hamilton's success in his ensuring press briefing, instead raising concerns that we could be heading for another Spa-like fall-out. Whether this is an attempt to send a public message to both drivers to watch their widening rift remains to be seen, but on a day where Hamilton underlined his superiority, it was their fairly innocuous 'wheel kiss' at the start which could rumble on.

For Hamilton's part, Wolff said he was straight on the radio after the clash to say it wasn't intentional, a line he maintained after the race as he expressed some confusion as to why it was even an issue. Perhaps more interestingly though, on the day Hamilton won his third title, Rosberg's Mercedes press release quote continued to be scathing. An odd juxtaposition on a document that usually sanitises opinion, if anything Rosberg's words stoke the fire, while it is worth noting he hasn't done his traditional post-race video review this weekend...

Funnily enough, on Saturday Rosberg did tweet a picture to throw his support behind Valentino Rossi ahead of that... I wonder how he felt about the Italian come Sunday?

#forzavale domani!!! #valentinorossi @valeyellow46

A photo posted by Nico Rosberg (@nicorosbergofficial) on

Bernie's power play

When Bernie talks, everyone listens... There are those that answer back and those that express their frustration with him, but if Bernie is speaking, he almost always has something interesting to say.

This weekend was no exception, as Ecclestone dropped the bombshell that his desire for a standardised customer engine to be made available from 2017 will be made officially public this week with backing from the FIA, if not the manufacturers.

Read between the lines (as one must often do with Bernie) and there is more to be considered than simply his noble desire to keep some of the smaller teams on the grid. In an age where F1 track action has become intrinsically associated with the engine in the back of the car, the dominance of Mercedes and, to a slightly lesser extent, Ferrari has further reaching consequences than who wins on Sunday.

Indeed, Mercedes and Ferrari have been accused of a duopoly and whilst they can't be blamed for Renault and Honda dropping the ball with their efforts, they command a significant amount of sway in the paddock by their superiority stranglehold.

For Mercedes' part, they have been more co-operative in trying to level the playing field again than you would expect, challenging rivals to 'come at them' by relenting on the 'engine freeze' and keeping dialogue open to wholesale changes in regulations that have the potential to nix the dominance it could so easily maintain. Ferrari, meanwhile, is waving a veto at this standard engine proposal, but it doesn't appear to matter.

Bernie has made his feelings about the current generation of engines known on many occasions, so his desire to shake things up is hardly a surprise. Though this customer engine, which is being pitched at half the price as the current customer power units, isn't a foregone conclusion just yet, the message it sends out is pretty clear.

Some see it as a way to force the manufacturers to slash the price of their complex but subsequently costly power units, which have swelled to almost ?20 million, while the blessing of the FIA is as telling as it is surprising. Bernie insists forcing a price change isn't a primary target since he doesn't expect it to happen, but few are in favour of a potential two-tier engine system, while many fear such a move will keep smaller teams but lose manufacturers.

This debate isn't over, but Bernie certainly holds the stage...

 

Comments

Loading Comments...