Belfast Telegraph

Lewis Hamilton in a rage after Nico Rosberg 'admits' to crash

By David Tremayne

Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes chiefs accused team-mate Nico Rosberg of deliberately causing the collision between their two cars as the already fractious relationship between the drivers hit a new low last night.

The Briton said he was "gobsmacked" that Rosberg was publicly refusing to take responsibility for the incident on the second lap which ultimately ended Hamilton's race, claiming that the German had admitted culpability in a heated team meeting.

"Basically, he just said he did it on purpose, that he could have avoided it," Hamilton said.

"That he did it to prove a point. Don't just rely on me, go ask Toto (Wolff, Mercedes' executive director) about it. I was gobsmacked.

"I heard somebody said it was inevitable that we would collide one day but I don't feel that today was that day. I felt sure that there would be an investigation."

Rosberg was much less forthcoming: "I haven't heard [criticism] myself from the people you have mentioned but of course I will respect their opinion. I myself don't have an opinion yet because I haven't seen it on the TV. All I know is that I was faster."

Surprisingly, the Mercedes chiefs – Wolff and non-executive chairman Niki Lauda – reacted most vehemently.

Wolff, hitherto seen as a Rosberg supporter while Lauda was thought to back Hamilton, said: "It is absolutely unacceptable. Lap No 2 of a long race and a crash between two team-mates. You don't try to overtake with the knife between your teeth in lap No 2."

Lauda pulled no punches either.

He revealed that the incident would be discussed at management level and added: "What I saw was that Nico was at fault because Lewis was in the lead and Nico clipped his tyre with his front wing. We could have been first and second but as it was we couldn't even win.

"People make mistakes, but we have to analyse it properly. We have to get Nico's opinion and then see how we correct this so that it never happens again in this stupid way."

Could Nico have avoided the collision? "Yes, very simple: don't turn in."

In others words, Nico provoked it? "Yes, no question."

Meanwhile, Daniel Ricciardo sees more "good things ahead" after again taking full advantage of warring Mercedes duo.

Starting from fifth on the Spa-Francorchamps grid, Ricciardo went on to take the chequered flag for the third time this season and second in a row in his maiden campaign with Red Bull.

But it means the Australian is firmly in the title picture if Rosberg and Hamilton continue to trip over themselves, with Ricciardo now 64 and 35 points adrift of the pair respectively.

Assessing the rest of the season, Ricciardo said: "If we can collect maximum points here it gives us more hope for the circuits that come later in the season: Singapore, Suzuka, just a couple to mention. Obviously it's great. We're really motivated right now."

Belgium Grand Prix Final Leading Positions after Race (44 Laps): 1 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull 1hr 24mins 36.556secs, 2 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:24:39.939, 3 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Williams 1:25:04.588, 4 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 1:25:13.371, 5 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 1:25:28.752.

Leading World Championship Standings: Drivers: 1 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 220pts, 2 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 191, 3 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull 156, 4 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Ferrari 119, 5 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Williams 110.

Top manufacturers: 1 Mercedes GP 411pts, 2 Red Bull 254, 3 Ferrari 158, 4 Williams 150, 5 McLaren 111, 6 Force India 100, 7 Scuderia Toro Rosso 18, 8 Lotus F1 Team 8, 9 Marussia 2, 10 Sauber-Ferrari 0, 11 Caterham 0.

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