Nico Rosberg, the 2016 World Champion, has called for Lewis Hamilton to issue an apology after his collision with Mercedes team-mate George Russell in Spanish Grand Prix qualifying.
The Mercedes drivers made contact in the closing stages of Q2 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, where Hamilton picked up a tow from his team-mate on the main straight.
As Hamilton moved alongside to overtake Russell the latter moved across the track and the pair collided, with Hamilton forced to take to the grass and losing a part of his front wing.
Russell was heard apologising over team radio after qualifying a distant 12th for Sunday’s race, while Hamilton appeared to pin the blame on his team-mate over his own radio channel.
“George just backed off” Hamilton said. “That’s really dangerous. I might have some damage on the car.”
Rosberg infamously crashed with Hamilton on the opening lap of the Spanish GP during his title-winning season in 2016 – and, speaking in his capacity as a Sky Sports F1 pundit in Barcelona, the former Mercedes and Williams driver has urged Hamilton to follow Russell’s lead.
He said: “George apologised, which I think is right.
“But I think Lewis also needs to apologise because if Lewis goes through George’s lap is done, because then Lewis is right in front and George will be stuck behind him and his lap will be ruined – and it’s his last try to get into Q3.
“So also Lewis, I think, would need to apologise later on.”
With the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz just ahead of the Mercedes drivers at the time of the incident, Rosberg feels the presence of traffic caused a dilemma for Hamilton at the back of the queue.
And the 37-year-old is expecting frank talks at his former team’s Saturday night briefing.
He added: “They got traffic to start the lap, so here’s Lewis thinking: ‘OK, what do I do now? Do I try and go past my team-mate, because it’s none of our faults, we just got traffic? Or do I accept that my last lap is done?
“And Lewis decided to go for it and try to overtake and George didn’t see him at all.
“So it’s kind of just unfortunate, but I think there will be some serious discussions nevertheless.”
Appearing on Sky’s coverage of the incident shortly after the incident, Mercedes communications chief Bradley Lord put the collision between Hamilton and Russell down to “miscommunication.”
He said: “George has aborted one lap and was trying to get track position for his flying lap, Lewis came up behind him starting his as well, and [it was] miscommunication between the two.
“Obviously the Ferrari [was] there as well finishing his lap and pulling to the right, so tricky situation and never something you want to see on track between the teams’ two cars.”
Hamilton went on to qualify fifth for Sunday’s race, albeit with a lap six tenths slower than Max Verstappen’s time for pole position.