Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has moved to clarify Lewis Hamilton’s comments on what Nico Rosberg said in the team meeting after the Belgian GP.
Mercedes has not denied that Rosberg said that he could have avoided the collision, and was out to prove a point, but Wolff said that wasn’t the same as admitting to causing an accident.
“Nico felt he needed to hold his line,” he told PA Sport. “He needed to make a point, and for Lewis, it was clearly not him who needed to be aware of Nico. He 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.
“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.
“I thought with the two of them, with the way they have previously driven against one another, that it wouldn’t come to this point. But we are at that point and it needs to be managed going forward.”
Earlier, and before Hamilton’s revelations, Wolff had made it clear that Rosberg was in the doghouse.
“Racing accidents can happen, racing accidents between teammates shouldn’t happen. Racing accidents between teammates in lap number two of a 44-lap race with a dominant car should be a no-no-no.
“For us, we’ve lost a win – we’ve lost another win. We’ve lost a 1-2. We have a lot of controversy about the drivers, about the team, and we’re at the point we hoped we would never reach.
“I need to look from the team’s perspective right now. Nico is 29 points ahead but it’s one thing to look at the championship situation and say ‘What does that mean for Lewis?’ The other side is to look at how that incident interferes with the principle and the philosophy of management we’re trying to have in the company. And it has functioned until now.”
Wolff said it was too early to decide whether team orders could be implemented.
“We haven’t decided that yet. I think it would be wrong 45 minutes after the end of the race to say ‘this is what we’re going to do.’ I’m extremely upset about what’s happened today – not about the fact that two cars have crashed into each other, I’m very upset because we’ve defined rules all together and we’ve broken those rules. And I feel let down. Whoever it would have been, Lewis or Nico, I feel let down and the team has been let down. This is why we real have to analyze properly how we can do it better.
“Obviously we have the tools to… interfere. But this is not the right way. We have to sit them down, and for them to be part of the discussion about how to avoid this happening again.”
Told that Hamilton didn’t expect Rosberg to be receiving a strong sanction, he said: “Well if Lewis has said that it’s going to be a slap on the wrist, and that there’s going to be no consequence, then he’s not aware of what consequences we can implement.”