Did Rosberg deliberately go off at Mirabeau?

2014 Monaco Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Monte-Carlo, 2014Did Nico Rosberg deliberately go off on his final qualifying lap to prevent his team mate beating him to pole position?

The Monaco Grand Prix stewards are investigating whether Rosberg’s skid at Mirabeau on his final lap was a genuine mistake, or an attempt to stop Lewis Hamilton from bettering his time.

Rosberg appeared to lose control of his car, then steered into an escape road. However because of the limited amount of run-off at Monaco, the yellow flags were displayed, which meant the cars following him had to back off. They included Hamilton, who was the only driver likely to beat Rosberg to pole.

Up until that point the two Mercedes drivers had been in one of their closest battles for pole position so far this season, with the advantage to-ing and fro-ing between the pair of them.

First blood went to Rosberg in Q1 – he was quicker by 0.145s. Hamilton hit back in Q2, pipping his team mate by 0.111s.

But the pendulum swung again when Q3 began. Rosberg led the two cars around on their first run and posted a 1’15.989. Hamilton crossed the line 11 seconds after his team mate and posted a time that was 0.059s slower. Here’s how their sector times compared:

Driver Sector one Sector two Sector three Finishing line
Nico Rosberg 19.826 35.241 20.922 1’15.989
Lewis Hamilton 19.973 35.140 20.935 1’16.048

The next quickest driver was Daniel Ricciardo, almost four-tenths of a second slower than Rosberg and unlikely to make the difference with his final run. The contest for pole position was between the two Mercedes drivers.

Rosberg began his final effort with 57 seconds remaining in Q3. Behind him were Jean-Eric Vergne and Sebastian Vettel, followed by Hamilton – who crossed the start line just as Rosberg reached Mirabeau.

The first sector ends just before the corner and Rosberg lost 0.124s going through it compared to his first effort. Approaching Mirabeau he appeared to make several corrections to his car’s steering, then at the last moment swung left and headed for the escape road.

With the Mercedes sitting in a narrow escape road yellow flags were waved in sector six, which covers Mirabeau and the approach to the Fairmont Hotel hairpin.

Vettel, Kvyat and then Hamilton each passed by – Hamilton doing so after setting a personal best of 19.906s in sector one. With that he’d only have needed to replicate his previous times from sectors two and three to take pole position. But as he had to back off for the yellow flag, he couldn’t.

The incident immediately drew comparisons with Michael Schumacher’s infamous manouevre at the same circuit eight years ago. Schumacher had been quickest with his first lap in Q3 but was on a slower time, and deliberately stopped his car at Rascasse to bring out the yellow flags and stop his rivals, including Fernando Alonso, from beating him time. The stewards sent him to the back of the grid.

Did Rosberg do something similar today? Afterwards he insisted his approach to the corner had been little different to before and said the data would support that. His team mate, unsurprisingly, was not impressed.

Over to you

Was Rosberg’s Mirabeau moment fair or foul? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Did Rosberg deliberately go off at Mirabeau to take pole position?

  • Strongly agree (16%)
  • Slightly agree (21%)
  • Neither agree nor disagree (7%)
  • Slightly disagree (19%)
  • Strongly disagree (34%)
  • No opinion (3%)

Total Voters: 539

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Update: Rosberg’s pole confirmed as stewards take no action

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134 comments on Did Rosberg deliberately go off at Mirabeau?

  1. SPIDERman said on 24th May 2014, 20:57

    One thing is i did not notice any kind of the usual celebrations for this pole at the mercedes garage or pitwall…. i think they were abit unsure how to react ….its only Roseburg who gave an interesting grin and a somewhat funny happy celebratiion.

  2. DaveD (@daved) said on 24th May 2014, 21:25

    OK, let’s pot the cynicism aside for a minute. Nico drove very aggressively and went right up to the edge…and over it. Why? Because he had nothing to lose. If he drives a faster lap: he’s on pole. If he wrecks, he’s either gets a yellow which stops Lewis or if somehow Lewis still gets by whatever mess he causes then he’s still in the front row.

    Those are simply the circumstances of where Nico was and he drove accordingly. Then got out and celebrated like he’d cleanly earned it. Perhaps he feels that way. Good for him. (Interesting note: When Sky was walking up and down the paddock asking the “team bosses” off the record if Nico did it intentionally, the answer was a unanimous “YES”)

    Now, the shoe is on the other foot. Let’s look at Lewis’ position for tomorrow: He’s leading the WDC, he feels Nico cost him a chance at poll whether intentional or not and he’s not happy. So where does he stand to win or lose?
    He’s leading the WDC. Merc has a wide margin over any other team in terms of points…and pace for future races. So….If he goes like a wild man into turn 1 tomorrow either he passes Nico and takes the lead or he wrecks himself and Nico in a “racing incident”. He most likely takes out one or both of the RBRs who are right behind them and have no where to go.

    The outcome: Lewis leaves Monte Carlo leading the WDC and Merc gives up a few points in their lead of the constructors championship which they’ll win easily anyway.

    So if Lewis, who we know is very mad right now, is half as aggressive as we all think he is….he leaves Monaco with the lead in the WDC, one way or another. I’m giving it an 80% chance that Lewis is still in the lead tomorrow night with either 100 points or 125 points. Nico will have either 97 points or 115 points.

    Why not, Lewis has nothing to lose at this point just as Nico had nothing to lose in Q3 this morning. And Lewis is mad.

    • petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 25th May 2014, 0:42

      @daved – Tomorrow is going to be epic. I’m not sure he’ll chuck it up the inside at turn one at the start because there’s a chance Rosberg could retire or Hamilton could pass him later on but I can absolutely guarantee that Hamilton will certainly try and put a move on him at some stage in the race. As you say, it doesn’t really matter to Hamilton if it works or not…

      I’m so happy Rosberg didn’t get a penalty because it would rob us of what will potentially be one of the great Monaco races tomorrow. I can’t wait to see what happens between the two!

      • DaveD (@daved) said on 25th May 2014, 0:59

        I hope you’re right and Lewis decides to just go for a good, aggressive, Bahrain style race and they give us a great show. But I worry that the lead on Turn 1 is SO important in Monaco that Lewis will feel like Turn 1 at the start is his best chance to get in front and stay there. There are just so few places to actually attempt a clean pass in Monaco.

  3. magon4 (@magon4) said on 24th May 2014, 21:42

    The more I see the footage, the more I am convinced Nico was trying to do just that – yellow flags out without hurting the car.

  4. Osama Shahid (@os-shahid1) said on 24th May 2014, 22:16

    I think that Rosberg didn’t make the mistake intentionally. So I strongly disagree.
    I think that Rosberg had every right to celebrate his pole position since he outpaced Hamilton on the first run, I don’t know what all the fuss is about. I think Hamilton should learn to be positive, It’s a long season, he’s got the car and the pace to win the title.

    • DaveD (@daved) said on 24th May 2014, 22:21

      Lewis has been the fastest in the second sector all weekend. He’d already beat Nico in the first sector and was on his way to poll. I don’t see why Lewis should be “nice” about it.

  5. petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 25th May 2014, 0:37

    Which part of it?
    Did he deliberately go off track? No.
    Did he deliberately reverse back onto the track knowing it would guarantee him pole? Yes.
    Would Lewis have done the same? Yes!
    Did he show terrible sportsmanship by celebrating at the end? Yes….
    Would Lewis have done that? yes……..

    • James Wynne (@heisenberg) said on 25th May 2014, 1:52

      @petebaldwin
      Did he deliberately go off-track? Debatable. Just because the stewards have deeemed no foul play, doesn’t mean that their verdict is indisputable. With all that technology they’ve got at their disposal, they’ve still made some fairly idiotic conclusions in the past. For all we know, this is one that they’ve mistaken.
      Did he deliberately reverse back onto the track knowing it would guarantee him pole? Again, debatable. We can’t know for sure. Perhaps he did, perhaps he didn’t. Surely pole was already clinched by that point, as the yellow flags would have remained out until his car was removed altogether.
      Would Lewis have done the same? We just don’t know that for sure. Apart from Aus 09 — and that wasn’t done entirely of his own volition — Lewis hasn’t really demonstrated that he’s prepared to cheat to get ahead.
      Did he show terrible sportsmanship by celebrating at the end? Yes, on this one we agree. But it’s no surprise, as he’s done it before. Silverstone last year was a prime example. He only won that race because two competitors dropped out ahead of him due to mechanical failures, one of which was his team mate who had had the measure of him up to that point, but he still celebrated as though he’s just won the race of his life and demolished the competition.
      Would Lewis have done that? No. Lewis has stated and demonstrated quite a few times that he doesn’t enjoy hollow victories. When he inherited a podium from an ailing Vettel in Bahrain 2010, he remarked that it didn’t bring him much satisfaction passing Vettel because he was hindered by his spark plug failure. He also didn’t celebrate his win in Turkey 2010, partly because of the situation between him and Jenson, but also, as he alluded to, because he only won thanks to the collision between the two Red Bulls.

  6. troutcor said on 25th May 2014, 6:14

    Regardless of whether it was deliberate, it hardly buttresses Keke Jr’s claim to be an equal talent to take pole solely by virtue of preventing his nemesis from finishing his final hot lap.

  7. dex said on 26th May 2014, 8:54

    I don’t think he did it deliberately, but the reversing caused the yellow flags. He should have waited until after the session.

  8. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th May 2014, 15:12

    Interesting to note how the voting changed after the stewards’ verdict had been announced. Shortly after the verdict the difference between the ‘agrees’ and ‘disagrees’ was a lot narrower:

    https://twitter.com/f1fanatic_co_uk/status/470260485640572928

  9. PETER GORDON said on 27th May 2014, 16:58

    Any self-respecting honest driver would be horrified to be accused of cheating and deliberately causing his team mate to suffer. As a consequence, I would expect outrage at the accusation and a strenuous defense. But instead, all we get is that smug smile from Rosberg… me thinks the man doth not protest enough!

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 29th May 2014, 12:45

      Methinks that since he is innocent, the smug smile was from knowing the truth all along, perhaps knowing he was lucky they threw the yellow because he immediately thought he had ruined things for himself, and perhaps because LH cranked his boost in the previous race and this became a bit of unintentional evening up of things.

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