Up until Sunday’s implosion by the Mercedes Formula One (F1) team at the Canadian Grand Prix, the team appeared unstoppable. Either driver Nico Rosberg or Lewis Hamilton has climbed to the top of the podium in every race. Issues with the Mercedes cars on Sunday ended that domination with Rosberg finishing second and Hamilton forced out of the race with a podium position within grasp.
It has not just been car troubles building up that has caused trouble for the dominant car maker. Both Hamilton and Rosberg do not get along. F1 racing is a team sport. Each team competing has two cars on the track. While both drivers aspire to win each race, it is all about the points. One car from a team finishing in the top five will earn a team points, however two cars finishing in the top five gives the team more points. Hamilton has given the indication this season that the three time Canadian Grand Prix Champion only cares about his performance and not about the Mercedes team.
From the very start of the race on Sunday, it looked to be a battle for first and second between the two Mercedes drivers. The first time the cars went through the chicane, Hamilton was forced to brake and allow Rosberg to take the lead. Hamilton was forced to chase Rosberg for most of the race as the Mercedes team continued the season dominance of leading every lap of every race.
Earlier in the year, Hamilton had tinkered with the engine of the number 2 car for Mercedes giving the 2008 World Champion an unfair advantage which resulted in a disqualification. Mercedes has banned both drivers from touching their cars except force them to stop any modifications against F1 regulations. Throughout the season it appeared to media and the public that Hamilton was beginning to implode. During a qualifying lap at the Monaco Grand Prix, Rosberg was blamed by Hamilton after the German braked short and appeared to ruin his teammate’s run around the track. It seemed that prior to the start of the Canadian race that both the drivers had finally buried the grudge against each other.
Hamilton appeared to be a different person as the driver jumped behind Rosberg to photo bomb a photo taken with a fan. Then the race started and it was clear from the aggressive driving style and radio communications that Hamilton was still holding strong animosity towards his teammate. A majority of the race found Hamilton in the chase behind Rosberg. After a quick pit stop by Rosberg, it appeared that Hamilton may find a way to take control of the lead, however a slightly slower stop in the pits gave the lead back to Rosberg.
As the race started to near the final laps, something happened to Mercedes. Both cars started to slow down. There was something going on with the braking systems of the cars, forcing the drivers to slow down. This allowed the rest of the cars to start moving closer to the leaders and make the race exciting. Hamilton and Rosberg appeared to have enough of a lead that if both cars were able to stay on the track two of the podium positions would be held by Mercedes. The chance that Mercedes could continue the season winning streak was still within grasp. However, instead of thinking about the team and points, Hamilton continued to push closer and closer to Rosberg and then saw daylight and attempted to get past his teammate. As Hamilton attempted to pass the brakes let go and the former world champion was forced to head back to the garage.
The continued implosion of Mercedes allowed for Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo to move into position and take the lead away from Rosberg with two laps left in the race. The Canadian Grand Prix would come to an end under a yellow flag caution as the battle for third between Felipe Massa, Sebastian Vettel and Sergio Perez on the last lap took a devastating turn. As Massa attempted to pass Perez, the two collided and both cars spun into the wall with Vettel splitting between the two out of control cars and capturing the third spot on the podium. The aggressive nature from Hamilton may have cost Mercedes the victory for the first time this season and opens the door for further speculation that the Hamilton and Rosberg are still at odds with each other.
Commentary by Carl Auer