Lewis Hamilton has claimed Nico Rosberg deliberately crashed into him in yesterday’s controversial Belgian Grand Prix. The incident occurred on lap two of the race at Spa-Francorchamps, with Hamilton leading after passing Mercedes team-mate and polesitter Rosberg off the line.
Approaching the right-hander at Les Combes at the end of the Kemmel Straight, Rosberg attempted a passing manoeuvre on Hamilton, only to seemingly back out. In doing so, it resulted in contact between the two for the first time, with Rosberg’s right front wing endplate clipping Hamilton’s left rear tyre. It created a puncture that resulted in a three-mile return to the pits for Hamilton, wrecking his race, in which he retired at the end of lap 39 of 44. Rosberg claimed second place behind Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and now has a 29-point cushion over Hamilton with seven races remaining.
The incident resulted in a heated, angry meeting between Hamilton, Rosberg, Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff, technical executive director Paddy Lowe and non-executive chairman Niki Lauda.
Following the meeting, Hamilton said: “We just had a meeting about it and he basically said he did it on purpose. He said he could have avoided it. He said ‘I did it to prove a point’. And you don’t have to just rely on me. Go and ask Toto, Paddy and all those guys who are not happy with him as well.”
Mercedes motorsport boss Wolff has made it clear Rosberg was at fault as he opted not to move line. “Nico felt he needed to hold his line. He needed to make a point, but for Lewis [from his perspective], it was clearly not him who needed to be aware of Nico,” said Wolff.
“He [Rosberg] 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.”
Asked as to what he made of one of his drivers who wanted to make a point to his team-mate, Wolff replied: “The incident is not acceptable for us. I feel let down. Whoever it would have been, Lewis or Nico, I feel let down and the team has been let down.”
Hamilton has conceded to being “gobsmacked” with regard to Rosberg’s remarks, with the trust between the two shattered. “When you’re out there you have to trust people to think with their heads and not do things deliberately,” said Hamilton. “But after that meeting I don’t really know how to approach the next race. All I know is I’ve got to push.
“This weekend is damaging to me,” he said. “I don’t know how I’m going to get back those 30 points, but what I do know is I’ve got a great group of people behind me.”
As for Rosberg, to the media, he refused to take any blame for his actions as he said: “The stewards’ judged it as a racing incident and that’s the way that one can describe it.”
It was an incident, though, that resulted in Rosberg being roundly booed on the podium on four separate occasions, to which he described the day as “very complicated”.
Rosberg ultimately had to settle for second behind Ricciardo, who has now won three races this season and two on the spin, thrusting himself into contention for the world title again given the war that has broken out in the Mercedes camp. Ricciardo is 64 points adrift of Rosberg and 35 behind Hamilton.
Williams’ Valtteri Bottas completed the podium, with the Finn up to fifth in the drivers’ standings, 11 points behind Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso who was seventh. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen finished fourth, his best result since rejoining the team this season and finishing ahead of Alonso for the first time, with Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel fifth and Jenson Button sixth.