Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg escape penalty after their race-ending Spanish GP crash
Stewards rule clash as racing incident; Hamilton says Rosberg "made a mistake"; Rosberg "very surprised" by move
By Pete Gill and James Galloway in Barcelona
Last Updated: 19/05/16 11:11am
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have escaped further punishment after their collision on the first lap of the Spanish GP resulted in both Mercedes cars crashing out.
After Rosberg overtook the pole-sitting Hamilton off the line, the pair clashed as world champion Hamilton strove to regain the lead at Turn Four.
Both drivers were summoned to face the stewards after the race but escaped without punishment with their clash adjudged to have been a racing incident.
"He made a mistake and started in the wrong engine setting," said Hamilton. "Before the race we have to pick which engine setting and there is only one, maximum power, and he hadn't gone to that. So he derated at that point and it meant that he lost about 180 bhp.
"I was catching him and as I was catching he wasn't on the racing line. As a racing driver when you are going 17kph faster you go for the gap."
But Rosberg, who remains 39 points clear in the world championship from Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, was adamant that he had done nothing wrong.
"I was aware of the situation and saw Lewis coming closer, so I went for the usual racing driver action of closing the inside line and closing the door as early as I could. I made it very clear I wasn't going to leave any space on the inside and I was very surprised he went for the gap," Rosberg told Sky F1.
Mercedes chief Niki Lauda initially described the crash as "unacceptable" and "completely unnecessary".
However, team boss Toto Wolff refused to pin the blame on either driver.
"We talked to both drivers, it is not a clear cut. It is a very difficult situation," Wolff told Sky Sports. "They are both pretty upset. Of course they have their perspective, we need to talk to them again, look at the pictures, look at the data and then avoid this in the future."
'Merc crash is a defining moment'
Sky F1's Martin Brundle on why the Rosberg-Hamilton crash is a 'defining moment' for Mercedes
After losing the lead through the first corner, Hamilton got a run on Rosberg as they exited the long Turn Three, with the Briton moving towards the inside in an attempt to overtake. But as the Rosberg's Mercedes moved across the track, Hamilton went on the grass, lost traction and was pitched into a spin.
Hamilton spun into the back of Rosberg, sending both cars into the gravel trap and out of the race.
"That image will be a defining moment for this season and possibly a defining moment for where the Mercedes team heads for 2017," said Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle.
"I think Mercedes have a bigger job to do today to pacify their drivers than they did after Spa 2014."
Detailed examination of the crash by Sky F1 analyst Anthony Davidson revealed Rosberg was in a lower engine mode as the crash developed.
"The harvesting light starts flashing and Rosberg then reacts to it. His hand goes down and makes a switch change, then he presses a button on the top left, then he looks in the mirror as Hamilton is making his move and puts him on the grass," explained Davidson.
"He was reacting to something Lewis wasn't and then he tried to squeeze the gap but it was too late.
"As soon as Hamilton sees that light flashing he knows what is happening and goes for the move. He goes for the gap, it was risky, but that is racing. It was very aggressive from Rosberg."
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