The difference between 2nd and 4th is six points. If Rosberg loses the championship by that amount or less, he only has himself to blame.
The last lap of the Austrian Grand Prix provided a Hollywood finish as Lewis Hamilton soared to his third win of the season in controversial circumstances – that brings the Mercedes drivers a mouth-watering 11 points adrift in the standings. Hamilton has been considered the more aggressive of the two Mercedes drivers so far this season, but it was Nico Rosberg who royally f*cked up in Austria.
On the final lap, the Mercedes duo dived into turn one on a split tyre strategies. Rosberg was on heavily degraded super-softs whilst Hamilton chased on slower soft tyres that were already 7-laps-old when they were fitted.
Rosberg looked into his mirrors to find Hamilton putting together a last-lap charge, and the German buckled under the pressure, going deep into turn one and losing traction.
This mistake allowed Hamilton to pull out in front after turn one as he left the corner with greater momentum. What happened next had Toto Wolff hissy-fitting on the pit-wall and viewers gasping for breath. Hamilton had a solid line on the outside, and had seemingly pulled the overtake of the season so far. But Rosberg had other ideas, and drove his Mercedes wide, forcing Hamilton off the track.
Let’s be honest, if Rosberg had been any further from the apex of that corner, he’d have been on the Austria-Switzerland border. Looking at the footage, there is absolutely no doubt that Rosberg made a conscious decision to drive Hamilton off the track. The German simply had nothing left in his locker, and the pressure of Hamilton’s final-stint surge ruined him.
For those Rosberg fans reading this through tears of disbelief, the FIA has awarded Rosberg a time penalty for causing the collision. Bear in mind that they have access to data that can pretty much 100% designate blame to any incident. Hamilton has broken his duck in Austria and denied Rosberg the Austria hat-trick. The last-lap maneuver will be debated in the coming week, but not at the expense of appreciating that we have a real driver-rivalry that is very good for Formula One.