The relationship between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg has again taken a potentially bitter turn following the latest on-track collision between the Mercedes duo.
After learning from the Spanish Grand Prix stewards the accident that led to both drivers ending up in a gravel trap at Turn 4 was a racing incident and no action would be taken, they then faced the media to explain what unfolded.
Both men were naturally tense and on the defensive on occasion, and a question mark has again been placed on how both drivers and the Mercedes team will handle the matter beyond this weekend.
Here, both drivers and team chief Toto Wolff give their thoughts on the incident:
“I got a great start. I was really excited about the first corner move, to get the lead, and from then on I was pretty sure it was my race to win.
“Coming out of Turn 3 I noticed I was down on engine power, which in hindsight is because I was in an incorrect mode. The way for me to get more engine power is from my overtake button. You will see from the on-board I was pushing that, and I don’t need to look where that is because I use it very, very often and I know where it is – top left-hand corner
“I saw Lewis closing in, and as soon as I could I closed the door. I covered the inside with a clear, strong move to make sure he understood there would not be space there. That’s what you do, you close the inside door to make sure he doesn’t get by.
“I was well aware of where he was at all times, and fully present to the battle. I was fully concentrated on Lewis.
“I was very surprised he went for it anyways, and that’s it – we ended up in the gravel trap.”
Asked whether clear-the-air talks will be held in the days ahead, Rosberg said: “That’s something I need to think about in the days to come. I can’t tell you now.
“I don’t know – I’m just extremely gutted. It’s very, very tough because it was my race to win.
“I’m not just gutted for myself, I’m gutted for everybody because we are one team – we’re all together in this, and I know how much they work for these two cars.
“For us both to end up in the gravel trap is the worst possible thing for the guys, so I’m gutted for everybody.”
“I got a good start, but got slipstreamed into Turn 1. Through Turn 3 I was a lot quicker than Nico – Nico happened to be in the wrong engine mode.
“Before the race we have all these procedures we have to go through. When we stop on the grid, there’s only one mode we go to, which is the race mode. Nico was in that same mode for the all formation lap, so I assume he forgot to change it on the grid.
“But once you’re in the launch mode, we’re both in the same mode. When we got to Turn 3, he disengaged the launch mode, as I did, but I went to race mode and he went to another one.
“He de-rated, I didn’t. I could see the de-rate light, but then it switched off so I wasn’t making any assumptions of what was going on.
“I was gaining on him at a fairly decent pace. I could see that I had a better run through the corner. He didn’t have the power.
“Where he positioned the car was a car width to the right of the racing line. At the speed I was catching him, I had to decide whether to go left – which was a small gap – or right. The inside line is always the line you’d go for and it was a much bigger gap, so I went for it.
“I got there and I had part of my wing and part of my wheel alongside, within the white line. Then obviously that gap diminished pretty quickly. But it wasn’t a case of the door was closed and I decided to go across the grass. I saw a gap and I went for it, and that’s what racing drivers do.
“The feeling I have is just disappointment for the team. What’s important is we just go to the next race and try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“Today we lost 43 points. There are only two of us that were part of doing that. The apology is on my behalf that I didn’t score those points for the team. These things happen in racing. But it’s the right thing to apologize to all these guys, just like when the engine fails they apologize to me.
“What has happened doesn’t change anything [in terms of team dynamic]. We just push to keep racing.”
“Coming out of T3 Lewis had more speed, Nico de-rated. Nico closed up the inside on what looked to be a clean maneuver. Lewis chose to go that side and ended up on the grass and lost the car. That was it. I would say it was a very unfortunate racing incident triggered by various circumstances.
“It was definitely lesson enough. It’s painful for them to see that we have lost what could’ve been a great result.
“When we looked at the incident – and there are people in the team with racing experience and an opinion – the opinion differed between all of us. What I take home is that it was an incident that could’ve been avoided by both sides. It’s so difficult to really attribute percentages of blame.
“By continuing with the approach of letting them race it was clear that eventually this could happen. And we will continue to let them race. Today was just a couple of unfortunate coincidences that ended up in us losing as a team.”