Following yesterday’s eventful Belgian grand prix at Spa-Francorchamps – where runaway championship leaders and Mercedes AMG Petronas teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg clashed early on to deny the dominant team a probable one-two finish – British driver Lewis has claimed, in effect, that Nico had admitted to causing the collision intentionally.
“We just had a meeting about it and he (Rosberg) basically said he did it on purpose,” said Hamilton in an Autosport report. “He said he could have avoided it. He said ‘I did it to prove a point’. I was gobsmacked when I was listening to the meeting. You need to ask him what point he was trying to make because he just came in there and said it was all my fault.
“And you don’t have to just rely on me. Go and ask Toto [Wolff] and Paddy [Lowe] who are not happy with him as well,” he added. The team’s executive director (business) Wolff, along with non-executive chairman Niki Lauda were both visibly livid of the situation, and gave no less than scathing remarks of Rosberg directly after the race.
It was “absolutely unacceptable” for their two drivers to crash into each other, mouthed off an enraged Wolff, while Lauda said he apologised to Hamilton. “Lewis was clearly in the lead and Nico was behind (when it happened; pictured below). Why in the second lap did this happen? It’s a bad result for Lewis and for the Mercedes team altogether,” remarked Lauda.
Following Hamilton’s remarkable claims of Rosberg, however, Wolff tried to calm the outroar by explaining further that, “Nico felt he needed to hold his line. He needed to make a point, and for Lewis, it was clearly not him who needed to be aware of Nico. He 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,” concluded Wolff.
There’s no love lost between the two title contenders, then. Whether deliberate or not, though, the damage has been done and it was Rosberg who came out on top. The German finished second, behind opportunist Daniel Ricciardo (who has taken three wins for Red Bull this year, in races where Mercedes has tripped up), adding another 18 points to his tally. Hamilton, who retired near the end, is now 29 points off the title lead.
This season sure is getting interesting. Also worth a note that the last time we had a season-long battle between dominant teammates for the championship, (Hamilton and Alonso in their infamous 2007 McLaren “partnership”) the contenders took points off each other and got pipped to the title at the end. With Abu Dhabi’s (silly) double points looming, could Ricciardo pull a Raikkonen this year?
So we ask again – why aren’t we more excited about Formula 1 in 2014?