Formula 1

Nico Rosberg apologises to Mercedes for Belgian GP incident

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The Spa incident remains a fiercely debated topic (©GettyImages)
The Spa incident remains a fiercely debated topic (©GettyImages).

Nico Rosberg apologises to Mercedes for Belgian GP incident has apologised to Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes team for the second lap incident at the Belgian Grand Prix.

In a meeting of drivers and team bosses at their base in Brackley, the German accepted responsibility for the contact that would lead to Hamilton's retirement at Spa and see his own championship lead extend to 29 points.

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"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 wrote on his Facebook page.

"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.

Even now, five days after the potentially championship defining moment, fans are still debating on social media with the Hamilton fans still defiant in their anger towards Rosberg. But why has Nico had to be so public in accepting guilt for an event most consider a basic racing incident?

Hamilton reaction

The answer to that is simple, the reaction of Lewis Hamilton. After the post-race debrief at Spa on Sunday, the Briton created a headline by implying Rosberg had said he had caused the incident which gave Lewis's car a left-rear puncture "on purpose".

It was almost guaranteed that by saying Rosberg had done it on purpose, it would get a reaction from his fans on social media.

Of course the real story would come out in which Toto Wolff said Nico had admitted he had not backed out of the move "to prove a point" but that, which is far different to deliberately causing a collision, was lost under the sea of hate being hurled because of Hamilton's comments.

I regularly get tweets from Hamilton fans for criticising their driver, and I likely will for saying this, but the way Lewis conducted himself in the hours after the race was not acceptable.

Out of touch

Interestingly this was the first incident that seemed to put Mercedes' team bosses on the same page, both Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda were pointing the finger of blame at Rosberg following the race.

However, in the days since, what the events of Spa have proven is how the hierarchy at Brackley are out of touch when it comes to how two drivers battle for a world championship.

We have had reports of how team orders would be implemented and how Rosberg would be punished and to me it almost sounds as if they have agreed with Hamilton's point of view that Nico did it intentionally.

Yet today, after the meeting was over, their punishment was forcing Rosberg to pay for the damaged parts and no change in the team orders with the drivers still free to race.

Every man for himself

Quite frankly the decision to allow the drivers to race was the only realistic one. After the events of Spa it would have been ludicrous for Mercedes to even consider the drivers doing something for the good of the team as now the emphasis is very much on themselves.

After Rosberg did what was best for Rosberg in Belgium its almost certain now that Hamilton will do what is best for Hamilton and despite Mercedes' best efforts ruling out another collision would be rather farfetched.

The problem for Mercedes is they are desperate to win the Constructors' championship, this is why they refuse to let their drivers fully off the leash and indeed, with the events of the past two races, Red Bull have taken small chunks out of the Silver Arrows' still commanding advantage.

But in the eyes of Lewis and Nico that title is all but sewn up and now, with tensions at the highest they have ever been, its every man for himself.

Incidents are inevitable

With this attitude then, it is clear that incidents are inevitable, there is not a single overtake in Formula 1 where some element of risk or trust in the other driver is needed, Bahrain is the prime example, Hamilton and Rosberg had one of the cleanest and most entertaining battles in years there while down the grid Pastor Maldonado flipped Esteban Gutierrez at the same place the Mercedes' were battling.

The events at Spa could have played out so differently, what if Hamilton's tyre hadn't punctured? He would have likely won the race whereas Nico would have dropped back with the damaged wing, so it is that element of chance that, for me, proves Rosberg would have never done it intentionally.

Then there remains the debate over why it happened when it did, on lap two, and remember, for once, Red Bull were a threat to Mercedes down the straights and after seeing Sebastian Vettel nearly pull a move on Hamilton on lap one, Rosberg would have been keen to get ahead with the presence of Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo right behind him.

As this championship battle progresses, the psychological advantage of being ahead is huge so each driver will do whatever he has to to put the pressure on the other because that's just how championship battles work.

Look ahead to Monza, a place known for overtaking, if its lap two and Hamilton has a slipstream on Rosberg heading into the first chicane, will he take advantage? You're damn right he will.

An injustice righted?

In the end, the reason for Rosberg's apology was to merely sooth a few egos, somehow there was a feeling of great injustice, that an incident I have seen in F1 countless times before, had happened to Lewis Hamilton and that by saying sorry Nico had, to be blunt, vindicated his team-mates cry-baby response.

If the wing and the wheel had been on the opposite Silver cars I believe there would have not been such a outcry of foul play with calls to ban drivers and the need for public apologies, for sure, after the events of Hungary, Rosberg would have been angrier still, but he would have got on with the job and tried to get the best result possible rather than moaning on the radio to save an engine and coming out with exaggerated implications later.

It may not be a popular opinion and will more than likely stir a few tweets, but at the end of the day I'm not a Hamilton nor Rosberg fan but simply someone who looks at a situation and has his own point of view.

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