FIA has the option to look again at Mercedes incident

The big question this week is whether the FIA will decide to take another look at the Rosberg/Hamilton incident in the light of the Briton's revelations about what happened in the team meeting.

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany answers reporters after the Belgium Formula One Grand Prix at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, Belgium, Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014.

Luca Bruno / AP

The big question this week is whether the FIA will decide to take another look at the Rosberg/Hamilton incident in the light of the Briton’s revelations about what happened in the team meeting.

At the time the stewards clearly regarded it as a racing incident, and indeed while they looked at it the incident was never even flagged up on the timing screens as the subject of a formal investigation with a ‘no further action’ outcome.

By the time Hamilton’s comments became public, the race weekend was in effect officially over and the results confirmed.

Lewis revealed that Rosberg said in the meeting that he could have avoided hitting his teammate, a choice of words that so close to the FIA phraseology of “causing an avoidable collision” that the governing body could easily justify a further look, especially given that a World Championship contender caused his direct rival to score no points. The impetus to go ahead could come from Jean Todt, if he is so inclined.

The procedure is quite straightforward. If the FIA decides that a “new element” has emerged, then the Spa stewards can be reconvened and can summon the relevant parties – the two drivers and the others in the meeting, namely Paddy Lowe and Toto Wolff and possibly Niki Lauda.

If it is not practical to reconvene the stewards, they can delegate the stewards of the next race in Monza to take over the task. While three of the Spa stewards hail from Germany, Belgium and Italy and are thus readily available, the problem may be ensuring the presence of Venezuela’s Vincenzo Spano.

The most recent example of stewards taking a second look came after the Massa/Perez incident in Montreal. Neither driver was interviewed at the time, as they had gone for medical checks, but the Mexican was penalized. However, lobbying by Force India led to Perez being given a chance to state his case in front of the stewards at the next race in Austria, with telemetry and his own evidence regarded as the new element.

However the most high profile instance came after the 2009 Australian GP, which by co-incidence also involved post race comments to the media by Lewis Hamilton – although in that instance he incriminated himself.

Jarno Trulli had passed Lewis under the safety car, but Lewis revealed straight after the race that he had been told to let him by. His story changed when he was later interviewed by the stewards, which led to a penalty for Trulli. The FIA later learned what Hamilton had said to the media and the case was re-opened the following weekend at the Malaysian GP, and Lewis was excluded.

The question is whether the Hamilton comments are regarded as a “new element,” the problem being that there is obviously no record of what was actually said in the meeting. Realistically, the likelihood is that the FIA may regard getting to the truth as a futile exercise, and that there is no point in pursuing it.

However, if the Monza stewards do look at the case, it’s worth noting that the driver representative will be Derek Warwick, who made his own feelings clear in a BBC radio interview this morning.

“I think what Nico was trying to say is he’s had enough of the forceful driving of Hamilton at Bahrain and again at Budapest, and he wasn’t going to give in,” said Warwick. “What was stupid or silly of Nico was he did it on the second lap of a Grand Prix. That is unacceptable. You can’t have teammates take each other out. I agree with Toto Wolff, it’s totally unacceptable.”

However he stopped short of saying that the FIA should take action: “It’s a difficult thing. At the end of last year the drivers asked for the stewards to be more consistent, so we gave a few more penalties put for various incidents. Then about three races ago they asked the FIA to relax the rules and let guys sort it out on the track, and that’s effectively what’s happening at the moment. You can’t please the drivers either way. I think it’s something that we need to look at, but I think it’s an internal problem, not really a problem for the FIA or the stewards.

“They have to somehow reprimand Rosberg and make sure these two guys don’t touch each other. They said right from the beginning of the season that they are going to allow these two guys to race and if they’re going to do that they have to expect a massive fallout, and they have to expect what happened on Sunday.”

The most likely outcome, if Rosberg is deemed to have caused an avoidable collision, would be a grid penalty in Monza.

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