Vettel’s explosion of emotion
The Ferrari racer fumes after a high-speed Pirelli puncture ruins his chances of a podium finish
It was a weekend of contrasts. After a lengthy summer break, F1 rolled into the lush Ardennes forest to commence the second half of the championship. Twinned with Monza, Spa signals the end of the European season, before the seven long-haul trips that nish the year.
While the paddock shared tales of their holidays, it was the two Mercedes drivers whose breaks had taken them in the most divergent directions. Lewis Hamilton had been photographed enjoying himself at a Caribbean carnival, dancing and smoking cigars, while meeting Hollywood stars at various celebrity bashes Stateside. In contrast, Nico Rosberg had remained at home with his pregnant wife, Vivian, as they prepared for the birth of their rst child.
Clearly the summer break had no detrimental effect on performance, as Hamilton comfortably won the Belgian GP, his sixth victory of the year, to extend his world championship lead. Rosberg recovered from a poor start (the rst without any radio advice from engineers) to nish in his team-mate’s wheel tracks, 2.058s behind.
On Friday afternoon, watching from the outside of Pouhon, it was clear that Mercedes, running with a new, distinctive, low-downforce bowed rear wing, were once again the class of the eld, with both drivers hugging the inside of the rst apex kerb with ease.
On an untypically hot and sunny afternoon at Spa, FP2 was suddenly brought to a halt with the appearance of a red ag. Nico Rosberg had spun violently while heading uphill at almost 200mph towards the awesomely quick Blanchimont corner. His Mercedes suffered a right-rear puncture and thankfully he came to a halt before he hit the barriers.
Back in the pits, watching on a monitor while strapped into his McLaren, Jenson Button coolly remarked over his team radio “Very Mansellesque,” as he watched the replay show rubber y up into the air in an explosion reminiscent of the title-deciding tyre failure from Adelaide 1986.
After a full investigation, Pirelli revealed there were “no signs of a structural integrity issue” with Rosberg’s right-rear and that an “external cut” had been the root cause of the problem. What caused the cut was not known and despite Rosberg’s denials, the speculation was that he’d run wide and inicted kerb damage.
Fast-forward 48 hours and another right-rear failure was to cause even greater controversy. After qualifying eighth, Sebastian Vettel was on a damage-limitation exercise, driving a one-stop strategy – the only driver in the eld to attempt such a feat – and after pitting to replace his softs on lap 14, he was planning to run to the nish on medium tyres. On lap 42, running third, his race ended as his right-rear exploded heading