Rosberg and Hamilton to feel the smack of firm government after controversial Belgian Grand Prix clash puts Lewis out of the race
Mercedes are now likely to impose team orders after all, following a collision between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton on the second lap of the Belgian Grand Prix. The incident squandered a potential one-two and meant they came away with just 18 points, rather than 43.
Until recently, the team had been proud of their policy of allowing their drivers to race freely, but tensions were exposed at the Hungarian Grand Prix when Hamilton failed to comply with a request to allow Rosberg to pass while they were running on different strategies.
The team held clear-the-air talks afterwards, but events at Spa proved that the matter was not closed. F1 Racing observed on the grid that polesitter Rosberg seemed agitated, engaging in a heated discussion with his engineers pre-race, then, after making a poor start, clipping the left-rear tyre of Hamilton’s car with his front wing while trying to pass at Les Combes on the second lap. Afterwards Hamilton fumed that the collision had been deliberate.
“We just had a meeting about it and he basically said he did it on purpose,” Lewis told reporters after the race. “He said he could have avoided it. He said ‘I did it to prove a point.’”
“My view of the event is very different,” said Rosberg. “It’s just better that I don’t now give all the details of my opinion. We had a very good discussion, and as it is when such things occur, we must sit down and review them. We just need to see if we need to change our approach in the future, as we did in Hungary, and we will do that.”
Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff said that the incident showed the current arrangement was not working. “Today we’ve seen the limits of the slap on the wrist,” he said. “Maybe the slap on the wrist is not enough. If Lewis has said that it’s going to be a slap on the wrist, and that there’s going to be no consequence, then he’s not aware of what consequences we can implement.
“We’ve probably not hit the self-destruct button yet, but there is a lot at stake, and if you don’t manage this properly now it could end up at that point. Obviously we have the tools to interfere, but this is not the right way.
“I’m extremely upset about what’s happened – not about the fact that two cars have crashed into each other, I’m very upset because we’ve dened rules all together and we’ve broken those rules.”
The FIA has already announced it will not be taking any action over the incident.
The collision between Rosberg and Hamilton at Spa puts Lewis 29 points behind his team-mate
Toto Wolff: “Today we’ve seen the limits of the slap on the wrist”