Mercedes Discipline Nico Rosberg Over Spa Collision
A crash at the Belgian Grand Prix last weekend that Nico Rosberg took responsibility of after a brutal collision, effectively ended Lewis Hamilton's hopes of victory and placed him second in the Formula One drivers' championship table behind Mercedes teammate Rosberg.
Nico Rosberg was disciplined by Mercedes on Friday after accepting responsibility for a collision with teammate Lewis Hamilton at last weekend's Belgian Grand Prix that deepened the rift between the two rivals for the drivers' title.
The tension between the Mercedes pair ratcheted up Sunday when Hamilton claimed Rosberg had admitted to deliberately driving into him on the second lap of the race at Spa. The crash effectively ended Hamilton's hopes of victory - he sustained a puncture to his tire and had to later retire - and Rosberg placed second to increase his championship lead over Hamilton to 29 points.
The two drivers attended a meeting at the team's headquarters in Brackley, England, on Friday along with executive director Toto Wolff and technical chief Paddy Lowe, where Mercedes said Rosberg "acknowledged his responsibility for the contact" and "apologized for this error of judgement." (Also read: Rosberg booed after crash punctures Hamilton's hopes)
"Suitable disciplinary measures have been taken for the incident," the team added in a statement, without disclosing the exact punishment for Rosberg.
"Lewis and Nico understand and accept the team's No. 1 rule: there must be no contact between the team's cars on track. It has been made clear that another such incident will not be tolerated. But Nico and Lewis are our drivers and we believe in them."
Rosberg tops the drivers' standings on 220 points, with Hamilton in second place on 191.
"They remain free to race for the 2014 FIA Formula One World Championship," Mercedes said.
Hamilton was incensed by Rosberg's risky overtaking move that saw him clip and puncture the Briton's left tire.
"He said he did it on purpose," Hamilton said after the race. "He said he could have avoided it. He said 'I did it to prove a point.'"
The incident further damaged a relationship that has been in freefall as they chase the drivers' title this season.
At last month's Hungarian GP, Hamilton refused team orders to let Rosberg pass.
At the Monaco GP in May, Hamilton was unhappy when Rosberg crashed late in qualifying when under no pressure, leading to a safety car coming out and squandering Hamilton's chances of securing pole position.
Hamilton and Rosberg were close friends during their junior days racing karts against each other.