After the on-track clash on Sunday, and the subsequent comments made, the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS team are trying to put the controversy at Spa-Francorchamps to bed after ‘clear-the-air’ talks between championship contenders Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.
Rosberg’s decision to attack Hamilton on lap two of the Belgian Grand Prix around the outside of Les Combes saw the two protagonists compromised for the rest of the race, which ended with the Briton retiring and the German second behind eventual winner Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing.
Hamilton went on to claim that Rosberg’s actions on track were deliberate, something the German fervently denies, while team personnel including Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff insisted the collision was ‘unacceptable’ and would not be allowed to happen again.
“We just had a meeting about it and he basically said he did it on purpose,” said Hamilton on Sunday. “He said he could have avoided it. He said ‘I did it to prove a point’. He basically said I did it to prove a point.”
Rosberg responded by saying the clash was a racing incident, something that the stewards in Belgium agreed on.
“I have seen it and I don’t want to say – but definitely, as the stewards judged it a racing incident, that is the way one can describe it,” said Rosberg after race. “I was quicker at the time and there was an opportunity, so I gave it a go around the outside as the inside was blocked. The opportunity was there and, for me, it wasn’t a risky situation.”
However, since the Grand Prix, Rosberg has had time to reflect on the events that occurred on Sunday, and admits to an error of judgement, and apologised to his team-mate and to his employees.
“In the days since the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa, I have spent a lot of time thinking about what happened during the race and discussing it with the team,” said Rosberg on his official Facebook page. “I have already expressed my regret about the incident but, after meeting with Toto, Paddy [Lowe] and Lewis today, I wish to go a step further and describe it as an error of judgement on my part.
“The number one rule for us as team-mates is that we must not collide, but that is exactly what happened. For that error of judgement, I apologise to Lewis and the team. I also want to say sorry to the fans who were deprived of our battle for the lead in Belgium.”
While Rosberg has come out to apologise, Hamilton has also made a statement on his own personal website, saying that despite the recent on-track confrontations and off-track spats, the relationship between the two team-mates can survive.
“There is a deep foundation that still exists for me and Nico to work from, in spite of our difficult times and differences,” said Hamilton. “We have the greatest team, and the strongest group of individuals who have worked their hands to the bone to give us the best car you see us racing today. It’s important that we never forget that and give them the results they deserve.
“Nico and I accept that we have both made mistakes and I feel it would be wrong to point fingers and say which one is worse than the other. What’s important is how we rise as a team from these situations. We win and we lose together and, as a team, we will emerge stronger.”
The team have confirmed that both drivers will be allowed to continue to race as they fight for the championship, but have been told that they should not under any circumstances collide again in the future.
“Lewis and I have been given clear instructions about how we race each other,” added Rosberg. “As drivers, we have a clear responsibility to the team, the fans of the sport, our partners and Mercedes-Benz to deliver clean racing. We take that responsibility very seriously.
“I look forward to concluding the season with hard, fair competition on and off track right up to the final lap of the season in Abu Dhabi.”