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Mercedes drivers split over ‘racing incident’

15 May 2016

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg refused to apportion blame for their opening-lap collision at Barcelona, but both offered differing views of what the stewards deemed was ultimately a racing incident.

The pair were both eliminated from Sunday’s Spanish race after colliding while battling for the lead on the run down to Turn 4 on the opening lap, with Hamilton losing control of his Mercedes after being squeezed onto the grass by team mate Rosberg.

Both drivers were summoned to see the stewards, who decreed that neither driver should be penalised. And while both men apologised to the team, their opinions on the contact differed.

“I was aware of the situation, I saw Lewis coming closer,” Rosberg explained, “so I went for the usual racing driver action of closing the door as early as I could.

“I was making it clear I wasn’t leaving any space, so I was very surprised that he went for the gap anyway.

“The stewards decided it was a race incident, so we will accept that - we will leave it at that.

“It was my race and our [Mercedes’] race to win - I was here to win, that’s what I was looking forward to and what I was really excited about at Turn 1 after getting past Lewis.

“So for us to end in the sandtrap like that - it is as bad as it gets.”

Hamilton added: “First of all, a huge apology to all of our team - when I stopped my heart just sank. To not deliver for them, it’s honestly… indescribable how gutted I was.

“I got a good start but he [Rosberg] slipstreamed me into Turn 1. Then through Turn 3 he had a de-rate - basically he made a mistake and started in the wrong engine setting. We only have one setting for maximum power and he wasn’t in it, which meant he was like 180bhp down.

“I’m not getting into blame, just a huge apology to the team. I’ll do everything I can to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Don’t have a good feeling this second, but we will recover.”

Hamilton’s retirement means he drops to third in the drivers’ championship, four points behind Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and 43 behind leader Rosberg.

WATCH: Mercedes drivers out on lap one after collision

The stewards’ statement in full:

The incident concerned started when Car 6 dropped into an incorrect power mode, as set by the driver prior to the start. This created a significant power differential between Car 6 and Car 44 at the exit of Turn 3 coming onto the straight, resulting in as much as a 17kph speed difference between the two cars on the straight. Car 6 moved to the right to defend his position, as is his right under Art 27.7 of the Sporting regulations. Simultaneously Car 44 as the significantly faster car with, at that time, apparent space on the inside, moved to make the pass. Art 27.7 requires the leading driver to leave room, if there is a "significant portion" of the car attempting to pass alongside. Car 44 had a portion of his front wing inside Car 6 small fractions of a second prior to Car 44 having to leave the right side of the track to avoid an initial collision, which may have led him to believe he had the right to space on the right. Once on the grass on the side of the track Car 44 was no longer in control of the situation.

Having heard extensively from both drivers and from the team, the Stewards determined that Car 6 had the right to make the maneuver that he did and that Car 44’s attempt to overtake was reasonable, and that the convergence of events led neither driver to be wholly or predominantly at fault, and therefore take no further action.