Updates from Friday, Aug. 29
Mercedes released a statement on Friday confirming that Nico Rosberg has been disciplined after he collided with Lewis Hamilton at the Belgian Grand Prix.
The team's official statement read:
Toto Wolff, Paddy Lowe, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton met today in the boardroom of MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS headquarters in Brackley to discuss the events of the Belgian Grand Prix. During this meeting, Nico acknowledged his responsibility for the contact that occurred on lap two of the Belgian Grand Prix and apologised for this error of judgement. Suitable disciplinary measures have been taken for the incident.
Rosberg also issued a statement, via his personal Facebook page, acknowledging full blame for the incident, which left Hamilton fuming:
In the days since the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa, I have spent a lot of time thinking about what happened during the race and discussing it with the team.
I have already expressed my regret about the incident but, after meeting with Toto, Paddy and Lewis today, I wish to go a step further and describe it as an error of judgement on my part.
The number one rule for us as team-mates is that we must not collide but that is exactly what happened.
For that error of judgement, I apologise to Lewis and the team. I also want to say sorry to the fans who were deprived of our battle for the lead in Belgium.
Lewis and I have been given clear instructions about how we race each other.
As drivers, we have a clear responsibility to the team, the fans of the sport, our partners and Mercedes-Benz to deliver clean racing. We take that responsibility very seriously.
I look forward to concluding the season with hard, fair competition on and off track right up to the final lap of the season in Abu Dhabi.
The feud between Formula One drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton reached new heights during Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix, when the German made contact with his British teammate on the track, but according to Sky Sports, the FIA will not be taking action against the current leader of the drivers' standings:
Rosberg tried overtaking Hamilton in the second lap but couldn't bring his Mercedes next to his challenger, who kept his line and gave Rosberg no space. Instead of just hitting the breaks, Rosberg steered into Hamilton's rear tyre, creating a puncture and damage to the bottom of his car.
Hamilton lost all down force and spent much of the race in the background before eventually retiring. Rosberg was unable to overcome Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, with the Australian winning his second race in a row.
The Brit was understandably furious with his teammate, but things took a turn for the worse when Rosberg reportedly told his teammate he collided with him "on purpose," something even the team confirmed, per the Daily Mail's Jonathan McEvoy:
Hamilton shared his teammate's comments, saying:
I was gobsmacked when I was in the meeting.
He (Nico) basically said he did it on purpose. He said he could have avoided it. He said he did it to prove a point. He said it was all my fault.
When you’re out there you have to trust people not to do things deliberately, but after that meeting I don’t really know how to approach the next race.
Rosberg and Hamilton have dominated the Formula One season so far, and with a world title on the line, a bit of inner-team rivalry was to be expected. But intentionally hitting a teammate in the second lap of a key race is taking things too far, according to Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda:
It is unacceptable that in the second lap Nico hit Lewis, completely unacceptable.
If these things happen at the end of the race, when they are fighting for the win then OK, but in the second lap to hand the victory to Red Bull is madness.
Despite all of that, the news FIA won't be punishing Rosberg didn't come as a surprise. With the exception of the comments attributed to him by Mercedes and Hamilton, there is little hard evidence that suggests the German intentionally tried to crash the Brit.
The Independent's Joe Krishnan still couldn't believe the news:
Former football star Gary Lineker took the sarcastic approach:
As shared by Krishnan, Hamilton has no intention of letting this latest incident derail his focus:
While Rosberg escaped a suspension that could have severely damaged his title aspirations, he won't be feeling like a winner on Tuesday. Fans were furious with him in Belgium to the point where his post-race interview had to be interrupted multiple times, and he has been taking a beating on social media.
Those negative sentiments will likely follow him for the rest of the season. He's the villain now, and suddenly, Hamilton has become the victim, the underdog everybody wants to see win.
The relations within the team have also been damaged beyond repair, and judging by Mercedes' comments, they are firmly in the corner of Hamilton. One thing is certain: The remainder of the 2014 Formula One season just became must-watch television.