MERCEDES

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

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 dened 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”

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