Nico Rosberg has released his usual post race video blog, commenting on the incident with team mate Lewis Hamilton at Spa and the comments made by the Briton afterwards.
Hamilton said that Rosberg had admitted to hitting him “on purpose” in their post race meeting.
Not surprisingly, Rosberg has a different view,
“I’ve been told what Lewis said in the press and the way he stated his version of events,” said Rosberg. “My view of the events is very different but it’s just better that I now don’t give all the details of my opinion. I prefer to keep it internal. We had a very good discussion after the race now we need to move forward.”
It was the first destructive contact between the pair in 12 races, which is not so surprising in a way, considering how hard fought the championship is.
Toto Wolff spelled out in his first briefing after the race that this kind of contact between team mates was covered in the agreements that had been made between drivers and the team. He felt “let down” that Rosberg had initiated a move which led to contact and a puncture for Hamilton, which wrecked his race and a broken front wing for Rosberg, which contributed to costing him the victory.
Leaving aside the motives Rosberg may have had in his move and Hamilton may have had in his comments to the media afterwards, the team’s frustration is that not enough was done by the drivers to avoid that collision in the first place and also post race not enough has been done to ‘de-escalate’ the situation, as Ukraine conflict observers might call it.
Rosberg was attempting a pass early in the race before the DRS was enabled and had almost enough pace to make it. Had he waited another lap, with DRS he would more likely have pulled off a clean pass. It was a rather clumsy effort; Rosberg is not as adept at the close quarters stuff as Hamilton. It could have been avoided in other words, as Rosberg admitted in the post race meeting – which Hamilton and Wolff have confirmed.
Hamilton took his words to mean that Rosberg did it on purpose, hence his statements to the media. His decision to go public on things said in a private team meeting is another cause for concern, similar to the tweeting of Jenson Button’s set up sheet at McLaren a couple of years ago.
There are some lines within teams which, when crossed, cause some serious eyebrow raising. Hamilton feels let down and has acted in the way he sees fit, which has crossed a line. Rosberg has crossed a line in triggering the incident, failing to avoid the risk.
Rosberg, a more calculating individual, has preferred to keep his powder dry in terms of public statements, but the big picture of the Spa saga is that it is all part of his strategy to keep Hamilton on edge. It’s worked so far pretty well; Hamilton has not put together many complete race weekends since Monaco, sometimes for reasons beyond his control, like the qualifying fire in Hungary, other times for his own reasons.
It’s set up in a very interesting way for the rest of the season. It will be extraordinarily hard for the Mercedes management to find a level on which the pair can work together now, but they must find a way and strict no contact rules will be enforced, even if it must be at the cost of letting them race at times, as Wolff vowed yesterday.
* Interestingly Mercedes’ main sponsor Petronas issued a statement on Monday, which is quite unusual for a title sponsor after an incident on track.
Here’s what it said:
“We are proud to be partners with MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team. Having such a highly motivated Team and competitive drivers has helped us tremendously achieving the success on and off the track – with strong leads in both world championships. Based on the progress so far, we could have seen the Team and the drivers at the very best with a one two finish.
“However, that did not materialise due to the incident that occurred in Lap 2. Racing is all about taking risks and the skill of racing is in how those risks are managed out on track. Nobody in the team or at PETRONAS wants to see championship points lost through incidents like yesterday happened. We believe that the drivers and the Team will remain focused and competitive, and make it their priority to win the Championship title.”