The fall-out from the Belgian Grand Prix continued today when Lewis Hamilton queried the stewards’ decision not to penalise Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg for colliding with the Briton, a view echoed by Williams’ Felipe Massa, who accused the German of “destroying” Hamilton’s race.
Rosberg, for the first time, publicly acknowledged that he caused the collision which resulted in Hamilton quitting the race and left the German 29 points ahead in the world championship. He also revealed that he had apologised to Hamilton for the second-lap collision which punctured the Briton’s tyre two weeks ago, and said the incident had left him feeling “distraught”.
But far from ending the affair, Hamilton asked, ahead of Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza: “Can we race a lot closer and if the other guy is out of the race nothing will happen? Or if it happens again, will there be a penalty?”
Massa said: “We are always asking to be able to race. But there is a fine line. I don’t understand why [the stewards] didn’t give him a penalty because it was impossible to pass Lewis at that place [Les Combes]. He didn’t brake, they touched, Nico was behind, so Nico destroyed Lewis’ race.”
Race stewards were told to be more lenient earlier this season when looking at incidents. Massa has suggested they have gone too far, adding: “If you have both drivers fighting for the championship, it’s fantastic for the team. But for me, Nico should have had a penalty for what he did. I think maybe the stewards are losing a bit of direction.”
Rosberg, who refused to admit his culpability immediately after the race, was later punished by Mercedes with what is thought to have been a six-figure fine.
“I took a lot of time to reflect on the events of the weekend and reached the conclusion that I had to take responsibility for what happened because it was my error of judgement,” said Rosberg, writing in the Daily Mail. “The fact is that I did not do a good enough job to avoid a collision.”
He said he apologised to Hamilton during an “intense” second debrief last Friday, and added he also received an apology from Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda following the former world champion’s outspoken criticism of his actions at Spa.
“The result enabled me to extend my lead in the championship, but when I left the circuit I hadn’t really thought about that. I was concerned and distraught about the situation,” Rosberg said.
“I really hope my apology will be accepted by the fans.”