F1's governing FIA has rubbished the latest conspiracy theory in the wake of the Italian grand prix. After the Monza race, multiple authoritative media publications and F1 officials suspected Nico Rosberg - perhaps in atonement for the Spa crash - deliberately faked braking mistakes on Sunday to gift Lewis Hamilton the win. And it wasn't just the sensational British press causing all the fuss.
Corriere dello Sport, a respected Italian sports daily, said the change of positions came as the result of "two strange errors" from Rosberg. And a poll in Italy's famous La Gazzetta dello Sport showed that only 22 per cent believe Rosberg's "mistakes" were genuinely accidental.
That would explain the latest spate of booing on the Monza podium for the increasingly pressurised championship leader Rosberg. "Did he really make the same braking mistake twice in the same place?" Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko is quoted by Bild. And former driver and commentator Marc Surer said the video replays "left me with an odd feeling".
But F1's most experienced active driver, Jenson Button, slammed the conspiracy theories about clandestine 'team orders' issued by an oddly-smiling Toto Wolff. "It is a stupid theory," the McLaren driver said. "No driver would do that. No driver." Mercedes was also pouring scorn on the theory on Monday, 'tweeting' a tongue-in-cheek picture of pigs flying over Brackley with the headline 'Breaking news!'
Even the FIA is on side.bThe driver steward on duty at Monza was Derek Warwick, who told the Mirror newspaper the incident was "not even on our radar" during the Italian grand prix. "Gut feeling tells you a lot and my gut says it was straightforward," he said, adding that "Mercedes are allowed to have team orders" anyway. "I saw mistakes at that chicane twenty times over the weekend," Warwick insisted.
Charlie Whiting, the F1 race director, was even more scathing of the conspiracy theorists. "Spare me," he told the Times newspaper. "No, we didn't even give the conspiracy theory a moment's thought at the time. A few drivers had problems at that chicane in practice, including Nico, who had a few problems there as well as in the race. I really don't think there is anything in it," he added.
So an exasperated Niki Lauda, the Mercedes team chairman, insists it is time for the conspiracies to stop. "Once and for all -- we do not have team orders. Period," said the F1 legend. (GMM)