Five ways Mercedes could have punished Rosberg

© F1 Pulse, 1 September 2014
© AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert

Nico Rosberg acknowledged his responsibility for clipping Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton at the Belgian Grand Prix and apologised for the incident.

Although some observers refer to it as a racing incident, others preferred to buy into controversy suggesting that his act was deliberate, and should be punished accordingly.

Mercedes say that Rosberg has been disciplined for the clash with some reports suggesting that he was fined a six-figure sum, to be donated to charity, while the public condemnation of his actions would surely affect his confidence in some way.

But if a driver within a team truly has to be punished, then there are perhaps better ways to do it. A ban, for instance, could serve a severe detriment as there would be question marks if the replacement could get up to speed soon enough costing the team a potential one-two. So, here are five ways a penalty could be applied without compromising the team’s position in the championship:

© AP Photo/ Ben Stansall

OPTIMISE HAMILTON’S RACE STRATEGIES

Rather than providing both its drivers with similar strategies, Mercedes can provide Hamilton the optimum strategy, in say the next three races, to try and ensure that he finishes ahead of Rosberg. That would allow the Briton to claw back some of the points he has lost while also ensuring that Rosberg still has a chance - against odds - to beat his teammate.

IMPOSE TEAM ORDERS, BACK HAMILTON

This one would be difficult to enforce. Rosberg can be ordered to let Hamilton through in a race to allow the Briton to finish ahead. Whether it should be done for one race or three is a different question. This will obviously affect the racing unless Rosberg refuses to comply.

© AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert

USE ROSBERG’S CAR FOR 2015 DEVELOPMENT

Mercedes is certain to secure the constructors’ championship this season and it will soon have to ensure that its developments for 2015 are tested ahead of time to keep its advantage next year as well. Rosberg’s car can be used to try out new components, even during races, to get the data to be assessed later. The plan could backfire, of course, should the new components offer Rosberg an advantage, But then again, it could always be taken off and current bits used instead, in which case he will be running with a setup which wasn’t really refined.

MAKE ROSBERG SKIP NEXT THREE FP1s

Mercedes has no reserve driver. Should either Hamilton or Rosberg be unable to compete in a weekend, a third driver should ideally be kept ready for such emergencies. And it’s no easy task to step into an F1 car and get up to speed immediately – even if the driver is currently racing with another team. Rosberg can be replaced with someone who can be nurtured for the future and serve as a replacement if needed. Skipping three straight FP1s would certainly hinder Rosberg as he would have less track time than his teammate to optimise his car, while the reserve driver can set about understanding modern F1 better.

© AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert

ALL OF THE ABOVE

Perhaps the best punishment is a combination of all of the above mentioned suggestions. Skipping first practice for a reserve driver and then testing components for 2015 in FP2, followed by racing with the lesser of the optimal strategy to his teammate will surely affect Rosberg’s results. With the strongest car in the field, Mercedes will still finish one-two with advantage Hamilton but still offers a fair chance to Rosberg if team orders are not imposed.

 

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