Lewis Hamilton on Nico Rosberg: ‘Basically, he said he did it on purpose. I was gobsmacked’

Controversy continues after yesterdays drama on the track

Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes chiefs accused team-mate Nico Rosberg of deliberately causing a collision between their two cars at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa as the already fractious relationship between the two drivers hit a new low last night.

The Briton said he was “gobsmacked” that Rosberg was publicly refusing to take responsibility for the incident on the second lap which ultimately ended Hamilton’s race, claiming that the German had admitted culpability in a heated team meeting.

“Basically, he just said he did it on purpose, that he could have avoided it,” Hamilton said. “That he did it to prove a point. Don’t just rely on me, go ask Toto [Wolff, Mercedes’ executive director] about it. I was gobsmacked.

“I heard somebody said it was inevitable that we would collide one day but I don’t feel that today was that day. I had the inside line. I braked very deeply otherwise he’d have come down the inside. And I still made the corner on the same line as normal. He was quite far behind me, and I continued my line and then felt a thud. I felt sure that there would be an investigation.

“I’m mostly disappointed for the team, and of course for myself because I lost points and that makes my championship more difficult.”

Rosberg was much less forthcoming on the topic, channelling his inner Arsène Wenger. “I haven’t heard [criticism] myself from the people you have mentioned but of course I will respect their opinion. I myself don’t have an opinion yet because I haven’t seen it on the TV. All I know is that I was faster. The inside was blocked so I gave it a go around the outside.”

Surprisingly, it was the Mercedes chiefs – Wolff and non-executive chairman Niki Lauda – who reacted most vehemently. From the start of the season they have bravely allowed their two drivers to race each other, but the one stipulation was that they must not hit each other.

Wolff, hitherto seen as a Rosberg supporter while Lauda was thought to back Hamilton, did not mince his words when he told the BBC: “It is absolutely unacceptable. Lap No 2 of a long race and a crash between two team-mates. We have often discussed the situation and it happened today. You don’t try to overtake with the knife between your teeth in lap No 2.”

Lauda pulled no punches either. He revealed that the incident would be discussed at management level within minutes of the race ending, and added: “What I saw was that Nico was at fault because Lewis was in the lead and Nico clipped his tyre with his front wing. The criticism I have is that they were on the second lap, because we lost the whole race. We could have been first and second but as it was we couldn’t even win.

“People make mistakes, this is part of all our lives, but we have to analyse it properly. We have to get Nico’s opinion and then we have to see how we correct this so that it never happens again in this stupid way.” Could Nico have avoided the collision? “Yes, very simple: don’t turn in.” In others words, Nico provoked it? “Yes, no question.”

Later, Lauda tried to clam the situation and added: “Nico felt he needed to make a point, and for Lewis, it was clearly not him who needed to be aware of Nico. Nico didn’t give in. He thought it was for Lewis to leave him space, and that Lewis didn’t leave him space. So they agreed to disagree in a very heated discussion amongst ourselves, but it wasn’t deliberately crashing. That is nonsense.”

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