Having spent the best part of a week making an absolute meal in its handling of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton’s latest spat at the Belgian Grand Prix, the Mercedes F1 team has finally drawn a line in the sand.
It issued a media release confirming that Rosberg has admitted fault and been disciplined as a result of the pair’s tangle on the second lap of the race at Spa-Francorchamps, while again emphasising that its drivers are free to race, provided they don’t run into each other again.
“Today we came together as a team and discussed our differences. Nico and I accept that we have both made mistakes and I feel it would be wrong to point fingers and say which one is worse than the other. What’s important is how we rise as a team from these situations. We win and we lose together and, as a team, we will emerge stronger,” Hamilton is quoted as saying in the team’s media release.
“There is a deep foundation that still exists for me and Nico to work from, in spite of our difficult times and differences.
“We have the greatest team, the strongest group of individuals who have worked their hands to the bone to give us the best car you see us racing today. It’s important that we never forget that and give them the results they deserve.
“Today, Toto [Wolff] and Paddy [Lowe] told us clearly how we must race against each other from now on in a fair and respectful manner. The fans want to see a clean fight until the end of the season and that’s what we want to give them.
“It’s going to be a tough road from here but championships have been won from much further back than I am now. And I promise you that I will be giving everything and more to win this for my team, for my family and for my fans.
“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,” Rosberg added.
“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 media release will hopefully give a pause in the press attention directed towards the team until next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
Much has been written about their contact – much of it wildly opinionated and incorrect! – but the net effect is that neither driver has come out of this well: Rosberg sullied his reputation with a bit of ruthlessness, while Hamilton did himself few favours in airing the team’s dirty laundry in public.
The bigger question does not, in fact, boil down to Mercedes’
mismanagement of the episode, rather the FIA choosing to sit on its hands despite the subsequent evidence that suggested the incident should have been investigated.
Image via XPB Images