Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff says Nico Rosberg “felt he needed to make a point” during his battle with Lewis Hamilton at Spa, but says he didn’t deliberately crash into his team-mate.
The tension at Mercedes went up another few notches at Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix when Rosberg made contact with Hamilton’s left-rear wheel while he was trying to regain first place.
Hamilton was forced to pit for a puncture and he eventually retired while Rosberg fought back to finish P2 behind Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull.
The Merc bosses called a team meeting after the race and Hamilton was left furious after Rosberg apparently admitted he did it on purpose.
“It looked quite clear to me but we just had a meeting about it and he basically said he did it on purpose,” the Brit said.
“He said he did it on purpose, 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’. And you don’t have to just rely on me, go and ask Toto [Wolff], Paddy [Lowe] and all those guys who are not happy with him as well.”
Wolff, though, says the German’s comments were misinterpreted and he simply didn’t want to give his team-mate space.
“Nico felt he needed to hold his line,” he said. “He needed to make a point, and for Lewis, it was clearly not him who needed to be aware of Nico. He (Rosberg) didn’t give in. He thought it was for Lewis to leave him space, and that Lewis didn’t leave him space.
“So they agreed to disagree in a very heated discussion amongst ourselves, but it wasn’t deliberately crashing. That is nonsense. It was deliberately taking into account that if Lewis moves or would open then it could end up in a crash.”
Wolff admits that Rosberg should have avoided such an incident so early in the race.
“We had a collision that could have been avoided, a second-lap collision, it was Nico who attacked and he shouldn’t have done it. It was also to show he was not prepared to give in. With hindsight, if he could turn back time, Nico would probably not do it again in the way he did,” he said.
He added: “It doesn’t change the scenario at all because the incident, as I see it, is not acceptable for us. What we saw there was that Nico was not prepared to take the exit, and that caused the collision. That is not something we want to happen.”
Hamilton: Rosberg Did It On Purpose