Hamilton claims Rosberg admitted crash was intentional
A visibly irate Lewis Hamilton has claimed that his Mercedes teammate and World Championship leader, Nico Rosberg, intentionally caused the collision that gifted Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo his third victory of the season in yesterday’s Belgium Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.
“We just had a meeting about it and he basically said he did it on purpose. He said he could have avoided it," Hamilton was quoted by Sky Sports as saying.
“You don’t have to just rely on me, go and ask [Mercedes team boss] Toto [Wolff] or [Executive Technical Director] Paddy [Lowe] who are not happy with him as well.
“He just came in there and said it was all my fault. When you’re out there you have to trust the people with their heads and [that they] don’t do things deliberately. After that meeting I don’t really know how to approach the next race,” said the Brit.
Hamilton went on to say that he was “gobsmacked" by Rosberg's alleged admission in the post racing briefing, telling Sky, “You need to ask him what point he was trying to make.”
Having secured another Mercedes pole position lookout during a rain-soaked qualifying session, Hamilton got the drop on his teammate and lead on lap one with Rosberg dropping from first to third after being overtaken by Ricciardo’s teammate and reigning world champion, Sebastien Vettel.
At the beginning of lap two, and having managed to demote Vettel back to P3, Rosberg attempted to pass Hamilton around the outside of the right-left chicane at Les Combes. The German’s move didn’t stick and as Hamilton turned left, his left-rear wheel came into contact with Rosberg’s right front wing endplate, resulting in an instant puncture which, as it was coming apart, took a big chunk out of the underside floor.
Despite a quick pit-stop for a new wing, Rosberg finished 3.3 seconds behind race winner Ricciardo, while Hamilton, who had gone back out after having his punctured tyre replaced, eventually retired with five laps to go having been languishing at the back of the field. Williams’ Valtteri Bottas completed the podium, his fourth in five races, which went largely unheard as Rosberg was booed.
A seething Toto Wolff blamed the incident squarely on Rosberg, calling the incident “unacceptable”.
“There is one rule and that is that you don't crash into each other. And it has happened not at the end of the race but on lap two. If there is any rev limiter [for anger] I'm in there. It's important there are rules and they're followed.”
Wolff’s views were also shared by Mercedes non-executive chairman and triple World Champion, Niki Lauda, who told Sky, “Lewis was clear in the lead, there was no question about it, Nico was behind and why in the second lap [did they clash] someone has to explain to me.
“If they fight all the way to the end these things can happen, but not in the second lap.”
Responding the accident, Rosberg maintained that there was nothing illegal about the move and that the booing was mostly from the British crowds.
“It wasn’t a nice feeling. All I ask is that they really prepare themselves well before having such opinions. But anyway, it was a small minority, the British fans here, and all the other people were excited by a great race,” he said.
“In terms of an apology, I need to see it to go into any such detail. I was quicker, I wanted to overtake and I went for it. Unfortunately we touched. I definitely tried [to overtake] and I was alongside.”
CAPTION: Championship changing moment? Lewis Hamilton has accused teamate Nico Rosberg of deliberately running in to him during yesterday's Belgium Grand Prix. Rosberg maintains he was faster and took the gap. IMAGE sourced from skyf1.co.uk
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