As the rhetoric ratchets up over the incident between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton during the Belgian Grand Prix, the team have expressed to the media (hat tip AUTOSPORT) over just what Rosberg said in the team meeting.

Lewis Hamilton exited the meeting and told the press that Rosberg “basically” said he did it on purpose and that the reporters go ask Toto Wolff, team boss, who would corroborate the sentiment. That’s not exactly the way Wolff recalls the conversation as he told reporters:

“Nico felt he needed to hold his line. He needed to make a point, and for Lewis, it was clearly not him who needed to be aware of Nico,” said Wolff.

“[Rosberg] didn’t give in. He thought it was for Lewis to leave him space, and that Lewis didn’t leave him space.

“So they agreed to disagree in a very heated discussion amongst ourselves, but it wasn’t deliberately crashing. That is nonsense.”

Refusing to back down from a scarp at the corner while racing is a bit different than deliberately crashing into someone. At least that’s how the team boss sees it.

According to the report, Wolff is still angry that the incident happened and suggested that Rosberg wasn’t prepared to take the exit in the corner so the incident could have been avoided but he did suggest that Nico’s point was that he wasn’t going to simply give in. Would Nico do it differently if time was turned back? Wolff says he most likely would.

AUTOSPORT also reported that the stewards at the race reviewed the incident and didn’t find anything deliberate in Nico’s actions. As for Nico, he feels the incident was simply a racing incident saying:

“I didn’t see any risk in overtaking, or trying to overtake, so why should I not try? The opportunity was there even without DRS because I was so much quicker, so I gave it a go.

“Inside was not possible, so I tried around the outside. Should I have waited? That is very hypothetical. Who knows what happens afterwards?

“The opportunity was there and, for me, it wasn’t a risky situation.”

So the team, having had their “heated” meeting between drivers are now suggesting that this was a racing incident just as the stewards saw it and not a deliberate attempt at taking Lewis Hamilton out of the race. IS that how you still see it or is this a conspiracy against Lewis as Twitter comments suggest?

An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Spiccato

    Racing incident. That’s what I saw.

  • Andreas

    Intentional? As in “I decided to turn in on him, to puncture his tyre”? Of course not – the section of the sidewall that is vulnerable is actually quite small, and the risk of ending up only with a damaged front wing on your own car is far too big. Besides, you can’t even see the front wing end plates from inside the car…

    But I could believe Nico decided to not back down, and there was talk about him making that decision to test the “you have to leave room” rule. Either way, it was still a dumb move that could have been avoided.

  • Rapierman

    I don’t see it as Rosberg doing something intentionally, but I do see it as stupidity on his part. When you also take into the count the fact that he overcooked it later on and almost overshot a turn trying to pass Alonso, my conclusion is that Rosberg’s head wasn’t in the game them. He should have backed off early on in his incident with Hamilton and should have thought more “long term”. It was just stupidity, pure and simple, and now he needs to learn from it. Definitely not “assault with a deadly weapon”, but certainly “reckless endangerment”. Not sure how you’d punish that, but a one-race suspension by the team was certainly within the realm of possibility.

    With regards to Hamilton’s statement: Don’t know where he got it from, and I don’t even know if it’s true. He might have seen it that way or he may be trying to pull a PR stunt at the expense of both Rosberg and Mercedes. That’s probably half of the reason that Wolff is mad.

  • 1. Nico has a really piss-poor start to the race; passed by Lewis and Seb
    2. Nico is probably red-misting just a tad because of the poor start.
    3. Nico knows that if Lewis gets ahead by a second or so, he’ll never relinquish his lead.
    4. Nico is going to do *everything* in his power to get the place back, including taking whack-a-doodle chances around the outside.
    5. Nico realizes his move isn’t going to stick.
    6. Nico has a choice: get out of it and wait for a later attempt, giving Lewis a psychological advantage, or
    7. remembering that Lewis left him zero-point-zero room in Hungary (arguably should have been left 1-car width) and drove him off the road, Nico decides “nicht mehr”. I’m staying right here to “prove a point”, I will not back down to you, Lewis. If you want the position, come and get it. If you don’t want to leave room. . .

    Could’should Nico have made a better decision, obviously, yes! Did he crash into Lewis “on purpose”? Oh, good grief; get a grip out there. As F1Elvis, Marc Priestely, stated, “I don’t believe for 1 sec ROS deliberately crashed into HAM, it just doesn’t happen. It could’ve just as easily ended in disaster for ROS. Also not sure I agree they shouldn’t have been racing hard on lap 2. Lap 2 or 44, they’re racers & a pass is as good/important on either. Of course HAM fans will be upset, rightly so, ROS made an error of judgement today, but it happens in racing & it’ll happen again. Fortunately, there’s a human element in #F1 & we make mistakes. Today HAM was on the wrong end of that, but it’s been the other way too. It’s a shame ROS hasn’t just admitted he misjudged the situation, would’ve made it all much easier for him in the end.”

  • Chuck C

    A rookie, dumb-ass move, but a racing incident, nonetheless.

  • Chris M

    If Nico is the one down by 11 points I bet he thinks twice about leaving his nose in there.

  • A Racing incident Pure and Simple
    Lewis is making something out of Nothing
    nothing new.

  • Interesting comments over at TJ13 dot com. They dig into the actual overtaking rule as it presently exists. I don’t pretend to know the rules well enough to comment but their point seems to make sense. The salient take away being:
    “So as the pair approached the chicane at the end of the Kemmel straight, Rosberg had managed to get his front wheels alongside Hamilton’s side pod, and was on the outside for the right hand turn. According to the rules prior to July 2012, Hamilton would have been well within his rights to take the racing line and in effect run Nico out of track.

    Yet the rules for defensive driving were altered.

    An advisory memo was issued by Charlie Whiting in 2012, which essentially changed the rules of combat for the driver in front. In the aftermath of the Belgium GP, these revised rules by which drivers must defend their positions have seemingly slipped under the radar of the mainstream media.”

    Read it here:
    I’d be interested in others’ comments.
    btw: I’m not real pleased with Hamilton trying to manipulate media to his point of view and demonizing Rosberg. How many cars did Hamilton hit/touch/nudge in Hungary on his storm up from the back of the field, any of which could have ended in tears for the opposing drivers?

    Regardless of the attempted manipulation – advantage: Rosberg!

    • Andreas

      To be fair, I tend to take anything I read on that site with a big bag of salt. Actually, I just don’t read it. Too much pure speculation and putting words into people’s mouths, just to make oneself the center of attention. This time the site claims to know exactly how the stewards reasoned when they decided to not take any action. Funny bit, that – we can all make our own guesses why no action was taken, but we would usually preface them as exactly that; guessing. Simply saying “this is what happened” does not make it any less of a personal speculation. Unless you were actually in the steward’s room, taking part in the discussion, of course. Or if there was an official statement made on the matter. But the “no further action” decisions are rarely qualified by any motivation, and if I remember right, in this case there wasn’t even an investigation to begin with.

      As for the revised rule mentioned, from what I understand it deals with the need for a defending driver to leave space on a straight and in the braking zone. For instance, Magnussen got slapped with a penalty for pushing Alonso out on the grass, in this very race. But the ROS/HAM incident took place in a corner, making the site’s arguments much ado about nothing.

      Personally, I can fully understand that in Lewis’ heated (and probably very disappointed) mindset, he’d interpret Nico’s words the way he did. However, I suspect that once Lewis’ temp has gone down a few degrees, he’ll agree with Toto that there is a difference between deliberately not backing out of a move (which seems to be what Nico said he did) and deliberately crashing into someone.

  • A great man said:
    “By being a racing driver means you are racing with other people. And if you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver because we are competing, we are competing to win. And the main motivation to all of us is to compete for victory, it’s not to come 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th. I race to win as long as I feel it’s possible. Sometimes you get it wrong? Sure, it’s impossible to get it right all the time.”

    That man was Ayrton Senna. In my opinion, it was a racing incident. Nico saw a gap and went for it, sure he wasn’t side by side but he was there and Lewis went to close the door and lost. There were plenty of drivers that tried to pass on the outside and none had contact with the other car. I’m glad that Nico showed some backbone and it is showing that is hungry to win this championship.

    • Andreas

      That is a great quote indeed. But it should also be noted that he said it to defend his taking Prost out in the first corner at Suzuka 1990 – a move that won him the championship, and which many at the time thought was done deliberately… ;-) And if JYS is to be believed, Senna himself later even admitted that was the case.

  • Freds2

    I can’t believe this is even a discussion. It was a 50/50 racing incident. This is all about LH manipulating press and having it backfire on him once again. We keep calling this LH’s mind games but what it really is is watching LH implode, creating drama and Karma kicking his butt once again (remember Turkey?). I used to be a fan of his but I’ve lost all respect especially over anyone who grabs a mic and camera to play the victim thinking the FIA will come to his rescue. He’s starting to look like Massa a few years ago.

  • Having spent some time this evening doing an interview for a radio station in London, I do understand the British fans being upset, I really do. Niki and Toto are upset at missing a 1/2 finish and points and felt that Nico shouldn’t have made the move. Making an opportunistic move like that on the second lap and damaging both cars is not what the team wanted.

    I’ve read a lot of commentary from Hamilton fans and the incident is compounded because there so much to play for and now 29 points between them when it clearly was a move that wasn’t going to work.

    I’m trying to be openminded about this even though I see it as more of a racing incident than a deliberate attempt to put Lewis out of the race. I recall Singapore 2011 when Lewis did the same to Felipe and I don’t think he did it deliberately but then they weren’t locked in a championship battle. Not that that matters.

    Anyway, lots to play for and Merc has their work cut out for them Nico has a three year deal, Lewis a one year deal. If Lewis doesn’t feel the team is behind him, he may take his chalk and marbles back to McLaren. :)

    This isn’t the first time a title contender had something bad happen to them in a racing incident folks. Schumacher knows that well. So does Vettel and Webber as well as Felipe. :)

  • MIE

    Rosberg was told at the last race that he wasn’t putting Hamilton under enough pressure for the team to insist that he be allowed past. He gave his team mate room on that occasion to avoid this sort of incident. Later Hamilton driver him off the road in defending his position. I think Rosberg was making a point to the team as much as to Hamilton that both drivers need to give each other room if contact is to be avoided. Perhaps he felt that he has been the one backing down so far this season and he wants that to change?

    The thing is if Red Bull really have found pace in their car, Mercedes could lose the drivers title. Admittedly it would need a Red Bull driver to win every race from now until the end of the year, and we all know that just doesn’t happen…

    • Perfectly said. You have drilled down to the core of the issue.
      I, too, believe that this was Nico telling both MBZ and Lewis, I am through being the one to back off in order to save everyones’ bacon. This must be a two-way street if we are to succeed.
      btw: Thought Allan Mcnish and David Coulthard had great commentary about this on BBC red button; although Eddie the J took the opposing view.

  • jiji the cat

    and the plot thickens.

    don’t be uprised now if there is no information sharing and the garage is brutally split down the middle.

    so excited to see what happens in Italy. Bring it on baby!

    • Freds2

      That first corner is going to end in Hamilton tears for sure!

  • Nico knew exaclty what he was doing and what circumstances he would have on his car. The worst Nico could get was exaclty what happened, front wing damage. The best Lewis could get was a flat tire and a slow return to the pits.

    This was a cold calculated deliberate action by Nico.

  • AntioBob

    I think it is important to look closely at the statements by the Lewis, Toto and the spokesman. Lewis said “basically” he did it intentionally. The intentionality has not been contradicted by Wolff, but rather the notion of what “it” is. Woff confirmed that there was (unrepentant) intentionality in Nico’s actions and that they led to the crash. Yes, there is a difference between driving into someone and not yielding the line to prove a point (i.e., playing chicken with no intention of turning)… of course the issue is that in not yielding, you know the only way the crash will be avoided is if the person in front avoids you (which no one would expect Lewis to do as he was well ahead of Nico and had the line). Wolff tried to separate these two issues somewhat, but could have been clearer. Is there a difference between pushing someone over a cliff or intentionally not preventing their fall? I don’t see these as quite so distinct. Most ethicists would agree with me. But the bottom line is that what everyone has said is in essential agreement with this interpretation.
    The other issue is context. In Monaco Nico benefits, relative to his teammate, from his own mistake (something that other racing series rightfully see as a problematic), and in comments after seems to show little awareness of the basic lack of sporting fairness. (For the record I don’t believe he did that intentionally). Earlier in the season Nico is the first to use illicit engine maps (granted Lewis does the same later in defending). And it seems that Nico is holding a grudge that Lewis was wrong in the team orders thing at Hungary. In fact if you listen to James Allen’s interview with him on the subject in the recent BBC podcast, he’s clearly angry and feels Lewis was in the wrong. I think it’s important that we stop calling him unemotional, calculating, controlled, steady, etc… I think what bothers me about Nico’s behavior is that these are the actions of someone like Maldonado, with a Massa-like assumption of his correctness at all turns, and lack of reflection after the fact.
    On a final note the American broadcast was striking for its silly political correctness and lack of context in discussing the booing at the podium. Seriously guys? It’s not a golf club, don’t tell me about manners. The European coverage was much more able to quickly unpack the reality of the situation.

  • AntioBob

    Apparently the situation is getting quite heated for Nico. In order to maintain his cool demeanor he’s resorted to actually standing in a lake:

  • My opinion is that Nico was a bit hard nosed and Lewis could have actually given Nico space so for me it is a racing incident and you can blame either driver depending on your take of the rules – Nico was standing his ground (and technically was correct with respect to the rules) but I think expecting there to be contact and so there was an element of gamesmanship. Lewis now knows that Nico will not be squeezed off the race track and knows the rule book and racing etiquette rather well – so Nico wont be be bullied into submitting so easily. Nico is technically correct in his assertions and I guess therefore unapologetic. Lewis’ behaviour post race is just that of a drama queen who wants the FIA to re-examine the incident to get Nico disqualified or penalised. Lewis has been caught cheating in the past and this is reminder that a leopard doesn’t change its spots.

    Honestly I don’t blame either driver….. but top management at Mercedes F1 were utterly embarrassing… both Lauda and Wolf should know the rule book better and not publicly condemn Nico and expose their ignorance. Firstly they mis-managed Hungary with the blundered team orders. If my bosses order me to do something I do it period – Lewis should have slowed down to let Nico through. I don’t say that it is right to expect Lewis to do this but an order is an order and insubordinance, even if you are Lewis Hamilton, should not be tolerated. I think Mercedes top brass really need to review Toto Wolff competency (I think he should be sacked with immediate effect), even if he internally believed Nico to be at blame he needs to check the rule book and not make such a public spectacle of himself.

  • “Rosberg was told at the last race that he wasn’t putting Hamilton under enough pressure” mmmm I think Nico has now well and truly rattled Lewis’ leopard cage.

  • Andreas

    The interesting thing in all of this – besides the accusations etc – is what the team’s response will be. Toto Wolff said that this sort of thing can not, and will not, happen again. He also said that the team has all the muscle needed to handle the situation (I don’t have the exact quote, but that was the jest of it). So how do they deal with the situation for the future? Some say team orders will be imposed, but how to implement them? For instance, if they were designate the championship leader as #1, who can not be overtaken or challenged, that would clearly reward the very behaviour they took offense to. And designating Lewis as #1 would just look odd, and attach an asterisk to his DWC win, should it come to that. I can’t really see what kind of orders would work, to be honest.

  • telfish

    Yep because it’s totally and completely unknown for a German to deliberately crash into an Englishman with the championship at stake!

    Cough Schumacher/Hill Cough.

    Rosberg stated quote ‘I did it to prove a point’ You don’t prove a point by inaction, you have to act to prove a point, else there is no point in it is there!

    Either that or the guy is incompetent at overtaking which he showed when he could not pass even a Toro Rosso.

    • F1derbar

      +1 – everyone on this board is acting like crashing into someone on purpose is unheard of in F1 – Nico knew what he was doing and I have my suspicions about quali at Monaco as well.

  • As a Lewis Hamilton fan, I’ve very disappointed with the whole turn of event! Excited by his off the line start, holding off Vettel, and then lap two! After the Hungary race push off the track, plus the Bahrain wheel to wheel combat, and the Monaco qualifying off, you have to wonder calculated or clumsy? Or was Rosberg sending a message; I’m not going to be punked by Lewis anymore! Being a cynic, looking at the risk/reward for Rosberg; worth the move. Definitely, Rosberg wins the WDC, marks his spot in the team, and no real punishment from Mercedes. What are the options for Lewis? Become the de facto number 2? Payback on the track? Go back to McLaren?

    There is no better drama than Formula 1 season!

  • @ jsimm57184 of course Lewis has never cheated or crashed or forced other drivers off the track cough cough …. Lewis is a good driver but he needs to focus on his on track driving and not let Nico’s gamesmanship get to him, be less of a drama queen in dealing with the press and of course stay with Mercedes it is the best team to win a championship. We know he has the ability to beat Nico and he can catch up the points deficit.

    • telfish

      When has he cheated? Please list the races laps and incidents.

  • If one championship Lewis’ ability to explain his bad luck, were matched by his ability to win, he would shortly be surpassing Michaels championship titles.

    • Nico made his point — that he’s not a push-over. I applaud him for that. We all know that Lewis is no push-over, we’ve seen him be aggressive before both in passing and defense — and he’s more often praised for it than criticized. As fans we like aggressiveness. We prefer it not involve contact, but it’s what we want to see.

      I think Nico is doing a lot right. He’s being aggressive, he’s getting into Lewis’ head, he’s driving really well (for the most part). This is what I expect from a potential champion. We all knew this was going to get dicey, and “argy-bargy”, and I for one was looking forward to it.

      Honestly the only thing wrong with any of this is Hamilton’s petulance. If he would just man up and take it on the chin I’d have a lot more respect for him. It’s racing Lewis, get used to it. It’s your job to do it better than Nico, not to complain about the world being unfair.

      • telfish

        Taking out another driver/car deliberately is not racing. It was not right when Schumacher took out Hill and it’s not right now.

  • It all reminds me of two kids misbehaving in the backseat. HE’S TOUCHING ME! STAY ON YOUR SIDE OF THE TRACK! MOOOoooOOOOMM!

  • JimmyClarkFan

    @ tellfish
    Invoking past German/English confrontation to imply the same behavior here not only defies elementary logic but reveals a level of bigotry typical of Lewis-can-do-no wrong fans.

    And to even compare the Schumacher move, clearly one of the most obvious and worst championship deciding offenses in the history of F1 with this incident is just plainly ridiculous.

    Regarding your other comment asking for specifics on when did LH ever cheat:

    1) Besides being oblivious to whole LH career moves, you must have missed the video posted by Negative Camber on this site for some examples of far worse offenses by Lewis in the reversed role:

    2) Perhaps the LH lying to stewards in Australia 2009 GP has slipped your mind:

    But given the objectivity you expressed so far, I’m sure you’ll have some equally strong LH-exonerating explanations.