The collision between Mercedes Formula 1 teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at the start of the Spanish Grand Prix has been deemed a racing incident by the FIA stewards.
Hamilton and Rosberg took each other out of the race at Turn 4 on the opening lap as they battled for the lead, with Hamilton getting out of shape on the grass when Rosberg attempted to defend the inside line.
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Rosberg suffered a loss of power through Turn 3 because he started the race in the wrong engine mode, giving Hamilton a big speed advantage on the run to the next corner.
Both drivers were summoned to the stewards post-race, where it was determined that the matter was a racing incident.
“The stewards have said it is a racing incident, which we have to accept,” said Rosberg. “The stewards’ decision is the stewards’ decision – we leave it at that. That’s the verdict.”
When asked if he blamed Hamilton for the incident, Rosberg added: “I didn’t say that. I’m saying that I will go with the verdict of the stewards.”
On the subject of blame, Hamilton added: “I’m not going to get into that. Firstly, I want to make an apology to all of our team.
“When I stopped my heart just sank because there’s 1300-odd people in our team who all work so hard for us to be here. To not deliver for them, it’s honestly indescribable how gutted I was.
“I was catching him and he wasn’t on the racing line, he was on the inside, slightly to the right [in Turn 3]. But the gap to the left was much smaller than the one to the right, so I went for the right.
“There was a gap there and as a racing driver when you are going 17km/h faster you go for the gap. I’m going to try to move forward, and to let the team know I’m going to do all I can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Rosberg said he felt he made it clear he was defending the inside line.
“I was aware of the situation and saw Lewis coming closer so I went for the usual racing driver reaction of closing the inside and closing the door as early as I could,” said the championship leader. “For me it was a way of making clear I wasn’t going to leave any space on the inside there – and I was very surprised that he did go for the gap anyway.
“Overall I’m just extremely gutted – it was our race to win, all of us, and I’m also gutted for my colleagues.
“I’m aware of all the work everyone has put into these two cars and for us to end in the sand like that, that’s as bad as it gets.”