F1 Austrian Grand Prix: What the Hell Just Happened?


byMax Prince| PUBLISHED Jul 3, 2016 3:00 PM
F1 Austrian Grand Prix: What the Hell Just Happened?

Forget about the rest of the 2016 F1 Austrian Grand Prix: All anybody's going to be talking about is that last lap.

Mercy. That last lap.

Peter J Fox/Getty

The two Mercedes-AMG cars were out front, with Nico Rosberg leading Lewis Hamilton by 0.6s. They'd picked through backmarker traffic, nothing but open real estate ahead. Hamilton, entering the DRS zone, set up to make a run into Turn 2. He went outside. Rosberg held position and took an ultra-late apex, pushing Hamilton off-track. 

The two cars hit. Hard. Then they made contact again as Hamilton re-entered the track.

Moments later, Rosberg’s front wing, dragging across the tarmac, disintegrated. Bereft of downforce over the nose, he slowed into the next corner. Hamilton went around. So did the Red Bull of Max Verstappen. Then the Ferrari of Kimi Räikkönen. And just like that, Rosberg, the F1 World Championship points leader, not only lost the race but was knocked off the podium altogether.

The fallout from this will be enormous. Besides the obvious team reprimands and intramural unrest, there’s the issue of F1’s official sanctioning body, the FIA, which can retroactively reorder finishing position if it thinks rules were broken. When Rosberg’s wing went to pieces, the yellow flag came out, meaning Hamilton passed under caution. That’s only permitted when the car being overtaken is “slow-moving” or “disabled.” Does Rosberg’s Mercedes fit that description? Also realize that, if the FIA thinks Rosberg caused that wreck intentionally, it can void his fourth place spot. Which would give Hamilton the lead in the points standings.

Peter J Fox/Getty

That’ll all be worked out before next weekend's British Grand Prix at Silverstone. For now, I’ll just leave this here…