Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in first lap crash at the Spanish Grand Prix

The Mercedes team-mates came together as they vied for first place

Simon Rice
Sunday 15 May 2016 14:20
The cars of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton after their crash
The cars of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton after their crash

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg crashed into each other during the first lap of the Spanish Grand Prix.

Hamilton started the race on pole position but was overtaken by his Mercedes team-mate at the first corner.

Hamilton then had the pace on Rosberg around turn three to retake first position but as he tried to go up the inside of the German driver he was squeezed off the track. Hamilton then lost control of his vehicle on the grass verge before spinning and crashing into the side of Rosberg and taking them both off the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya track into the gravel.

Hamilton appeared furious with the incident, throwing his steering wheel from his car as he got out.

For Niki Lauda, Mercedes' non-executive chairman, he appeared to point the finger at Hamilton for causing the collision.

"It is stupid, we could've won this race," Lauda told BBC Radio 5 Live. "Lewis is too aggressive. I need to talk to them and hear their explanation and then we will see what happens."

Hamilton and Rosberg arrived back in the paddock, both still with their crash helmets on, before heading straight to the Mercedes' debrief truck.

Hamilton and Rosberg were swiftly joined by the Mercedes hierarchy of Toto Wolff, Paddy Lowe and Lauda in the team truck.

The collision here is the first between the Mercedes rivals since the Belgian Grand Prix in 2014, but it is the first in which they have taken each other out during their time together as team-mates. Wolff warned before the season that Mercedes may have to reconsider their driver line-up if the relationship between Hamilton and Rosberg continued to deteriorate.

Hamilton, who has now not won as race since October's United States Grand Prix - the scene of his third world championship - is in the first year of a new three-year deal. Rosberg's current contract expires at the end of the season, but it had been anticipated that he would sign a new contract.

Wolff was more measured than Lauda in the aftermath of the crash, and told Channel 4: "Niki has a driver's opinion and it's fair enough - as a driver you see it black and white, from a team's perspective we've looked at the pictures and the data and it's not clear-cut.

"Nico had a really good turn one and turn two, Lewis tried to dive in, Nico closed the door. I'd say let's wait and see what the stewards say. It's not a situation where you can attribute 100 per cent of the blame.

"Both of them are upset about the situation. There wasn't any finger-pointing."

Asked if the incident might affect Mercedes' driver combination in the longer term, Wolff added: "No. We didn't have an incident for a long time.

"They race each other hard and fair. Today was a situation that eventually needed to happen again. If you let them race and you haven't called any team orders there is going to be contact. Today was a very unfortunate contact because it meant a double DNF (did not finish). I'm really upset and angry but I don't think we will change our approach. We owe it to Formula 1 and the fans to let them race."

The crash is the latest chapter in an intriguing battle between the team-mates that has seen Rosberg build a 43 point lead over the reigning world champion.

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