- By James Nadel
Mercedes teammates Hamilton and Rosberg take each other out of the race after crashing whilst trying to overtake one another
Like the rest of the world watching in amazement as this sporting rivalry descended once again into acrimony, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will disagree to their graves on who was to blame for today’s spectacular, race-ending crash in the Spanish Grand Prix which took out both of the Mercedes teammates. Even the team’s management could not decide, Niki Lauda immediately blaming Hamilton, while Toto Wolff sat firmly on the fence.
The debate is likely to rage just as fiercely as the Mercedes pair fought over an ever-diminishing piece of tarmac to the point of total disaster. Mercedes have already taken the brave decision not to impose team orders, but that did not stop a visibly furious Lauda, the team’s non-executive chairman, offering a scathing assessment of the world champion’s actions as he headed for turn four on the first lap.
“Stupid,” Lauda said. “It’s very simple for me. It was a miscalculation in Lewis’s head. I blame him more than Nico. For the team and for Mercedes it is unacceptable. Lewis was too aggressive to pass him and why should Nico give him room? He was in the lead. It is completely unnecessary and for me the disaster is that all Mercedes are out after two corners.”
The stewards did not elect to punish either driver, deeming it a “racing incident”. It soon became apparent that this was a verdict both Hamilton and Rosberg would declined to endorse. Hamilton was the calmer of the pair, Rosberg viably more angered still over three hours after the most destructive encounter these two have shared on track. In the end Rosberg came out on top, still leading Hamilton by 43 points in the standings, and by 39 over Kimi Raikkonen.
Coming out of turn three it was Hamilton which was ahead of Rosberg on speed, Hamilton choosing the inside however falls slightly behind Rosberg who turns into Hamilton clearly driving Hamilton off the track and onto the grass. Hamilton then spins and hits Rosberg taking the entire Mercedes team out of the race by turn four.
On face value it is very clear that it was Rosberg at fault having seemingly knowingly forced Hamilton off the track. However when seen from Hamilton’s car’s cam, it can be seen that by taking the inside track Rosberg takes a slight lead, as a fellow team mate there is no pressure or reason to try and force past his team mate on the inside, the move which infuriated Lauda.
From an impartial perspective it could be said both parties are at fault, Hamilton for trying to force an overtake when there was no need and Rosberg for forcing his team mate off the track. Perhaps it is this mutual fault which the stewards offered a more diplomatic approach blaming neither party.
The drama unfolded in a matter of seconds. From pole position Hamilton got off the line well, but broke too early for turn one, allowing Rosberg to sweep round the outside. As the German left turn three however, his car, through a mistake of his own, was in the wrong engine mode, leaving him well down on power. Hamilton gained rapidly, at one stage 10mph faster on the straight. He opted for the inside heading for turn four, but just as his front wheel was alongside Rosberg’s rear, his team-mate defended strongly, appearing to steer into Hamilton. Hamilton was forced off the track and on to the grass, losing control and careering into Rosberg. Race over.
A short history of Hamilton and Rosberg’s fallouts…
Malaysia 2013: Rosberg is ordered not to pass Hamilton by then team principal Ross Brawn. They move past it relatively quickly.
Monaco 2014: Hamilton believes Rosberg deliberately went off on his final qualifying lap to scupper his effort. Hamilton declares that the two are “not friends”.
Hungary 2014: Hamilton refuses to obey an order to allow Rosberg through in the middle of the race. Rosberg is still fuming about it after the summer break before Spa.
Belgium 2014: On the second lap Rosberg tries to overtake Hamilton, clipping his rear left tyre, causing a puncture. Hamilton goes out of the race while Rosberg finishes second. The team blame Rosberg.
United States 2015: Hamilton overtakes Rosberg at the start into turn one with an aggressive move. The pair lightly touch, but no damage is sustained. Rosberg makes an error in the closing stages allowing Hamilton to take the win and a third championship.