Nico Rosberg was fortunate to escape with his fifth place from yesterday's Bahrain Grand Prix still in tact last night after two post-race stewards' investigations into his aggressive defensive driving during the Grand Prix. The German was seen pushing both Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso off-track as they tried to overtake his Mercedes during the race, but in lengthy judgements published over three hours after the end of the race, the stewards reasoned the Rosberg had driven within the limits of the rules.
Both incidents took place on the straight between turns 3 and 4 when Hamilton and Alonso attempted to get on Rosberg's right hand side to take the inside line going into turn 4. Rosberg's aggressive blocking saw him move to the extreme right of the track, forcing both drivers off the road.
Article 10.4 of the F1 sporting regulations reads: “Manoeuvres liable to hinder other drivers, such as deliberate crowding of a car beyond the edge of the track or any other abnormal change of direction, are not permitted.”
Despite Rosberg's blatant breaking of this rule however, the stewards deemed that his driving was legitimate because he had “commenced his move to the right after the exit from T3 and moved to the right in a constant and continuous straight line manner, not making any sudden movements (as evidenced by telemetry and video evidence)”.
In the case of the incident with Hamilton the stewards added that “Had a significant portion of Car 4 [Hamilton] been alongside that of Car 8 [Rosberg] whilst Car 4 still remained within the confines of the track, then the actions of Car 8 may not have been considered legitimate.”
Speaking after the race, Alonso said he had the extensive run-off areas of the track to thank for avoiding a nasty accident. “I can only say that if, instead of such a wide run-off area there had been a wall, I'm not sure I'd be here now to talk about it,” he told the press.
Alonso then took to Twitter to voice his dissatisfaction at the stewards' decision when it was published. “I think you are going to have fun in future races! You can defend position as you want and you can overtake outside the track! Enjoy!” he wrote, referring to Hamilton overtaking Rosberg while off the track.