The incident on lap two left Hamilton with a puncture and
ultimately led to the Briton's retirement from the race, while title
rival Rosberg went on to finish second and extend his lead to 29
Hamilton told reporters that the German, whose car's front wing
clipped Hamilton's rear tyre in a failed attempt to overtake, had
done it on purpose.
"We just had a meeting about it and he basically said he did it on
purpose. He said he did it on purpose," repeated the Briton with a
dazed look. "He said he could have avoided it. He said ĎI did it to
prove a pointí.
"You donít have to just rely on me, go and ask (Mercedes team
bosses) Toto (Wolff) and Paddy (Lowe) who are not happy with him as
well," said Hamilton.
"I was gobsmacked when I was listening to the meeting. You need to
ask him what point he was trying to make."
Rosberg, whose relationship with Hamilton has hit the rocks
repeatedly this season as their boyhood friendship fragments, told
reporters separately that the collision was a racing incident.
"We had a discussion, as is important after such circumstances,
because obviously what happened cost the team a lot of points," said
the German, speaking to a media scrum downstairs in the Mercedes
hospitality while Hamilton held court on the floor above.
"That is the main focus and the biggest issue with such a happening
as today," added the Mercedes driver, who stepped on to the podium
to boos and whistles from the crowd.
"Unfortunately, Iím not going to go into any details, that wouldnít
be the right thing to do. We need to review and discuss how we move
Wolff later attempted to clarify what had happened in the meeting,
explaining that "Nico felt he needed to hold his line. He needed to
make a point.
"He (Rosberg) didn't give in. He thought it was for Lewis to leave
him space, and that Lewis didn't leave him space," added the
"So they agreed to disagree in a very heated discussion amongst
ourselves, but it wasn't deliberately crashing. That is nonsense."
Mercedes team bosses, speaking earlier as the dust settled on a race
won by Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, were critical of Rosberg's
driving and indicated he could expect a stern response.
"You don't try to overtake with the knife between your teeth in lap
number two and damage both cars," declared Wolff, who described the
incident as "absolutely unacceptable".
[to top of second column]
Retired triple champion and non-executive chairman Niki Lauda,
speaking before the meeting with drivers, said Rosberg was at fault
because Hamilton was in front.
"We lost the whole race, we could
have been first and second...he provoked it, no question," he said.
"Accidents can happen, and I have foreseen them anyway if two guys
are fighting freely all the way to the end, and it is accepted but
not on the second lap," added Lauda.
"Why on the second lap? If he wants to pass him he can pass him on
the slipstream easily one lap later without danger and without risk.
It was not that he had to do it because it was the last corner."
The two drivers had arrived in Belgium with the stage already set
for sparks after a 'team orders' controversy in the previous race in
Hungary in July, where Mercedes again backed Hamilton.
Rosberg had been angered after being beaten in that race by his team
mate, despite being on pole while the Briton started last and in the
Hamilton had been asked on the team radio not to hold up Rosberg in
Hungary, with the two on differing strategies, but Hamilton had made
clear Rosberg had to be close enough and he was not going to slow
for him and damage his own chances.
Their relationship also entered a glacial phase after Monaco, where
Hamilton suggested Rosberg might have deliberately gone off late in
qualifying to bring out warning flags that denied him a chance to
seize pole position.
Mercedes have generally allowed their drivers to race each other
freely, wary of damaging the sport and angering fans at a time where
they have been dominant on the track and seemingly in a private duel
for the title.
Despite Sunday's setback, the team have still won nine of the 12
races so far.
(Editing by Mark Meadows and Pritha Sarkar)
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