Mercedes AMG PETRONAS Team Boss Toto Wolff could not believe what was unfolding in front of his eyes during the final lap of the 2016 Austrian Grand Prix, as he watched drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, who were in first and second place at the time, collide just moments from the finish line.
The incident came about when Hamilton, having caught Rosberg, tried to overtake him for the lead on the final lap of the race, after the German made a mistake coming into Turn 1. The Brit had no hesitation in taking his chance and moved to overtake his team-mate round the outside. Hamilton edged his car ahead of Rosberg’s W07 as they took the corner, and went as wide as he could to allow plenty of space for the German to make it round, but as the current world champion turned in, Rosberg ran straight on instead, and the two inevitably collided.
The German sustained damage to his front wing during the incident and dropped back to fourth place, whilst Hamilton went on to take victory. Wolff was understandably furious with the outcome, losing valuable points in the title race, due to an event that could, and should have been avoided.
“It was incredibly frustrating for the team to see a one-two finish potentially become a double DNF on the final lap of the race – and to see us lose points again as a result of a collision between our two cars.
Mercedes Management have always been of the philosophy that their drivers should be allowed to race, however this is the second time in just four races that the silver arrows drivers have come together after a fierce battle, having taken each other completely out of the race at the recent Spanish Grand Prix. The Austrian has stated that this sort of behaviour cannot continue, and their liberal outlook may now have to change as a consequence.
“We let our driver’s race and we trust them to do so – but colliding team-mates is not what we want and this is something that needs to be stopped. If we need to reconsider our philosophy, and to take some unpopular decisions, then we must be prepared to keep that option open.
Wolff was unwilling to assign blame to either party, but did allude to Rosberg suffering issues with his brake by wire system on the lap before. The 44-year-old also confirmed that after everything has settled down, discussions would begin later this week, on where Mercedes go from here.
“The drivers were right on the limit with the brakes, having raced hard all the way through, and Nico’s brake by wire system went into passive mode on the penultimate lap.
“As for the collision, I am not going to try to put blame more on one side than the other; it always takes two to tango and, as we have said before, this should not happen between team-mates. We will now let the emotions settle before we sit down and discuss our next steps.
“We have to cool down a bit and in the next couple of days we will know. For sure because there’s a race next week we need to discuss internally with all guys involved how we want to manage the situation going forward.”