Toto Wolff, Mercedes, 2014

Mercedes collision “can’t and won’t happen again”

2014 Belgian Grand Prix

Toto Wolff, Mercedes, 2014Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff has vowed his two drivers will not make contact again as they did during today’s Belgian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg collided at Les Combes on lap two which compromised the race of both drivers and left Hamilton point-less.

Wolff said the collision “ultimately cost us a one-two finish today, because we saw that our car had that kind of performance in it”.

“It has been our clear policy to let the drivers race this year but rule number one is: don’t hit each other. To see that kind of contact, so early in the race, is an unacceptable level of risk to be taking out on track.

“It cannot – and will not – happen again.”

Rosberg eventually finished second, pitting three times after locking up and damaging his tyres while racing Sebastian Vettel.

“After the collision, Nico drove the first stint with a significantly damaged front wing, changed it, then had to make an additional stop after flat-spotting his left front tyre to the point where it was dangerous,” Wolff explained. “He then charged back through the field and was impressively close to taking the win in spite of a dramatic race.”

Hamilton ran at the tail of the field with a badly damaged car and urged his team to retire the car to save its engine. They did so six laps from home.

“Lewis was fighting with one hand tied behind his back after the puncture, which damaged the floor and cost him a significant amount of performance,” said Wolff.

“We left him out there in case the Safety Car came out, bunched up the field and allow us to gain some places, but it became clear that he had lost too much performance and was continuing to do so, so we retired the car before the finish.”

2014 Belgian Grand Prix

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Image © Daimler/Hoch Zwei

Posted on Categories 2014 F1 season

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198 comments on “Mercedes collision “can’t and won’t happen again””

    1. Yes it can happen again, this time Nico had to take the blame, as Lewis is still classed as
      the golden child, but looking back over the last five years he was never blameless, and a
      one point considered to be the most dangerous driver on the track with his gung ho
      attitude to all around lets not forget the facts never lie !!!

        1. Even as a non-native english speaker it’s pretty clear that Nico meant he did the maneuver to prove a point. To prove that he is as hard a racer as Lewis is and that he won’t back down. He surely didn’t mean “I planned to cut your tire and it worked perfectly.”

        2. @daved Toto Wolff has said that that’s what nico said, but that’s also selective reporting. What Nico really said (according to Toto, who can be trusted more than anyone else in this incident) was that he didnt back down to prove the point that he’s in it to win it. Lewis has expected nico to just move aside for him in the past

      1. but looking back over the last five years he was never blameless

        But you’d have to be incredibly biased to think that of course. I’m sure even Maldonado was blameless once or twice.

        lets not forget the facts never lie

        What facts?

    2. Totally. Incredible how lucky Rosberg got it this race. Totally ruined Lewis race, managed to finish second hanging up ahead with the front wing damage and recovering after locking up the tyres so badly.

      He knows on paper he’s a bit behind Hamilton, so he needs to exploit every chance and this sort of thing will happen again if he’s not careful enough, or if Hamilton stays a long way ahead.

          1. Hamilton has been way more aggressive with his driving than Nico. And past races have cemented Hamilton’s rep as an overly eager driver shoving people off the track. Maybe Nico is tired of being pushed around by Hamilton, this time he shoved back.

        1. Hamilton pushed lots of people off the track on the way to the top, he should be
          a man and take some of his own medicine, not come on boys you have to pull
          me out of this race, no matter how he worded it for us to hear, and if proven
          I don’t blame nico he is far better racer

      1. Niki does, but judging by their comments yesterday, he’s not in a position of authority at all. It’s times like this that I’m sure they all wish that they had kept Brawn.

    3. Lewis has done plenty in the past. He is no doubt very fast. He is also aware that he has managed to get away with plenty of pushing the limits with other drivers. It appears he is getting into the realm of the Andretti winners and whiner’s club.

        1. Rosberg and Lewis are Mercedes employees. Without Mercedes they don’t have a job. Sure, they can go somewhere else, but for now they are employees of the team. I’m with Eddie Jordan– this is a leadership fail. As much as I hate the spirit of team orders, I respect Ferrari for being very clear that the drivers work for the team and not vice versa.

        2. @osvaldas31 Yes, especially that snake Rosberg, always hatching plans to take out his team-mate. Today we saw part 2 of his 5 step plan to take out Hamilton. In Singapore he is going to ram Hamilton into the wall, In Japan he is going to mimic Senna/Prost-1990 and in Abu Dhabi he is going to sneak in between qualifying and the race to hamper with Hamilton’s gearbox. Evil genius!

          Seriously though, I’ll give you the Monaco-mistake as ‘intentional’, but today he made an honest mistake. So don’t tell me he is trying to win this WDC at all costs and Hamilton is not…

        1. He didn’t disobey the orders ether. He said if Nico gets in a position to overtake he won’t fight him. Which is basically letting him threw. But little Rosberg wanted Hamilton not to just let him threw but also stop racing all together and hit the brakes like he was in the back of the field getting lapped.

  1. On BBC Hamilton is claiming that in team meeting ROS admitted fault and also admitted that he could have lifted but didn’t to prove a point.

    Would certainly make things clearer. After initial wheel contact ROS made no clear effort to lift.

        1. I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or not? Rosberg is a cretin, makes more mistakes than anyone I’ve ever seen before but somehow gets away with everything. He’s coated in teflon.

        1. No wondering needed, Monaco becomes crystal clear now. This is a smooth, skilled, baby-faced Machiavelli in a crash helmet and firesuit. He knows exactly what he’s doing, which is win a WDC by any and all means. Mercedes have to decide if that’s the behavior they want from their drivers. Ferrari were okay with it from Schumi, but they had a clear one-two policy. In this case, it will be chaos from here on out.

          1. @zjakobs No need to be insulting. By “chaos” I meant within the team and between the two of them personally, not necessarily on track. Rosberg’s actions this year show that he is able to be cold and calculating in the heat of battle. That gives him emotional advantage over Hamilton, who “wears his emotions on his sleeve” and undergoes huge ups and downs in the course of the weekend. They have known each other since youth, Rosberg knows just where to poke Lewis to create maximum anger and frustration. Did you read earlier in the year that he would go out and kick a soccer ball against the side of the building during Lewis’ debriefs with his engineers just to annoy him? Rosberg has been a master of plausible deniability, but he finally came clean in this latest episode.

            Now that he has created a comfortable points buffer, I think he will be content to stay clean on track as long as he can maintain the buffer. If it narrows again, though, watch out. ROS is too slick for the clumsy driving of MAL and GUI and too subtle for explosive ordinance. But a move a la Senna? Absolutely, I wouldn’t put it past him. And unlike Senna, who was up-front about his intentions, ROS would make it look like enough like a “racing incident” that he can spin it to try to appear innocent.

          1. In terms of technique, more Schumi than Senna. Senna made no attempt to hide his intentions– he would take you out and everyone knew that’s what happened. This “behind the back” stuff, especially throwing his car down the escape road at Mirabeau, is right out of Schumi’s playbook.

          1. wouldn’t the first time a driver thought, after sticking his nose into it, “yield or don’t yield- it’s now up to you”. After Hamilton’s intimidations of the past (physical and psychological) I think Nico just telegraphed “enough is enough”.

        1. He wanted to show Hamilton that sometimes its Lewis who has to give way (to avoid damage), more or less a lesson learnt from Senna – i.e. I overtake you because you lose more than I do if you block me.

      1. Wolff confirms Hamilton’s reporting, not his interpretation. But I’m at a loss to understand how someone saying they didn’t avoid an incident ‘to prove a point’ wasn’t admission of causing a collision.

        Sounds like Mercedes trying to cover up Rosberg’s deliberate foul play. Again.

          1. Exactly. Mercedes will now open up their tins of paint and whitewash over this whole mess up. It’s clear for everyone to see, but as always we’re treated like idiots.

            The incident was rosbergs fault, he was lucky to get away with it. Like Monaco, only Rosberg knows for sure if he hit Hamilton on purpose, but he doesn’t come across in a good light currently. Like others have said, I also fail to understand how someone does something to prove a point, but didn’t do it on purpose. He had two choices and in “making a point” he chose the one which would obviously result in contact.

            The team said he would be punished, but so far my pet jelly fish has shown more backbone than anyone in the Mercedes management.

            “If Lewis has said that it’s going to be a slap on the wrist, and that there’s going to be no consequence, then he’s not aware of what consequences we can implement.”

            He talks the talk, but nothing will ever happen. There are no possible options open to them at all. A team can’t ban their championship leading driver, nor get rid of them totally. I’d bet Rosberg would rather have a WDC than money, so any financial punishment is also pointless.

            He has options, but is to weak to implement them. Meaning he actually has no options.

          2. One and perhaps the only option would have been to let FIA re-investigate the incident following Rosberg’s admission. The worst case scenario: a one race ban or the Spa points lost for NR. Mercedes can take the points loss and Rosberg would be kept in check.

            Instead Wolff tried to rework the semantics of what he said, which is not only treating everyone as idiots, it gives Rosberg licence to do the same, again, no doubt congratulating himself on the cunningness of taking out his competitor in front of everyone’s eyes, admitting the fact, and getting away with it.

  2. It’s clear that for Mercedes it was a lot about the timing. Nico had a whole race to beat Lewis but he chose to take high risks early into the race costing Lewis valuable points and costing the team another 1-2.

    On it happening again… man, drivers will try to beat each other out there, sure more caution is expected but nobody can guarantee they will not hit each other.

  3. Lewis is to blame in my opinion, he didn’t give Rosberg ANYWHERE NEAR enough space. Lewis knew he was there and turned in on him when he should have taken a wider line on the exit of Les Coombes and could have defended easily into Bruxelles.

    End of.

    1. If you only have your front wing in line with a driver’s back wheel the onus is on you to back out of it. Going into a corner with only the very front of your nose poking up the inside has always been seen as careless with the other driver having the right to take their normal line. You either back off or make sure your car is properly alongside. Rosberg did neither unfortunately. A small error in positioning but very costly and entirely his fault.

      1. Going into a corner with only the very front of your nose poking up the inside has always been seen as careless with the other driver having the right to take their normal line.

        Indeed @matt90. Moreover, this isn’t a case of one team blaming another. Wolff was clearly livid – with one of his own drivers – when he was interviewed by the BBC. Rarely do we hear a senior team official speaking in such terms about one of their own drivers.

        If Wolff et al are unhappy with NR’s actions that’s good enough for me. They run the team.

      2. @matt90 I would just like to point out that they first connected wheel to wheel and then slid of and then clipped the wing, and at about 45° angle of the turn he had half of his car alongside still, so.

        Two drivers wanting to race too harshly, and the stakes are getting higher, this can only get better! I hope the team fails with their instructions to the drivers… Because team orders are the only thing that can ruin this.

        1. and at about 45° angle of the turn he had half of his car alongside still, so

          And he lost that advantage by the time the left turn came up. Where he was at 45 degrees is about as relevant as where he was several turns before.

      3. Hamilton had the right to the racing line but also he knew that Rosberg was there so he had a choice to keep the racing line and risk collision or live some more space and avoid a potential damage to his car and still he would have been ahead of Niko. As usual he choose the first, aggressive option and this time pay dearly for it. I agree that Rosberg should have backed up more but Hamilton’s mistake was that he left it up for the others to care for his race. Niko obviously doesn’t.

  4. No Ross Brawn. Doubt anyone will be calling Toto or Paddy or Niki to manage a team.

    Eddie Jordan, “That for me is a boardroom decision, it should never happened, don’t blame the drivers. You can’t just let people go and do what they want to do. The team has suffered here. What they did is stupid. They are allowing the emotions of the driver in the heat of the moment to take over…The team are looking for other people to blame and they have to blame themselves.”

    1. The thing is, is this approach worse than the usual model of one team dominating, team ordering, with no racing?

      As a racing racing fan, I find it wicked blasphemy to suggest otherwise!

      But even for Mercedes PR, even after such incident and the war that has been escalating? I question if it might be even good for that.

      I can envisage a scenario where this approach that the team has had up to now could be very detrimental for the company’s PR. If the car was a tenth quicker than the rest and as a result of the fighting they would be scoring fifth, sixth and such places on a regular basis, despite being the fastest car.

      But that is not the case, the car is one of the most dominant ever, they are miles ahead of anybody in both championships and are constantly winning, scoring podiums, everybody is loving the best one team WDC battle since… I would not even know (too young)… Since ever? Since Prost v Senna?

      Sure, good talking to both drivers is in order, to try and persuade them to be less reckless, but I don’t see that a change in the general procedures is necessary, or would be a benefit to anyone.

    1. Mercedes huffs and puffs “we lost valuable points”. Hrrmmmph. Does anyone really think Mercedes will NOT win the constructors championship this year? Lauda, even though he appears to favor Lewis, is vehement that there are/will be no team orders. With two aggressive top drivers, I think the Mercedes brain trust is just giving us some good kabuki theatre / corporate speak.

    1. @gabal

      I was laughing at people suggesting this earlier… But the more the reports keep coming in and the story unfolds… The more I think it’s a distinct possibility!
      They could easily bring in a reserve or young driver, or one from somewhere else on the grid (Hulkenberg, perhaps?) to take over for a race and essentially let Lewis win (barring technical issues)… Whoever they bring in won’t win (unless Hulkenberg etc), but with the WCC being essentially theirs, I don’t think they’ll mind.

      1. I think Di Resta is their reserve driver. They could use him, he has recent racing experience.

        I doubt it would happen though, but maybe it should when one of their drivers gives up a potential 1-2 just to prove his own personal points…

  5. So Nico did it to prove a point Ham said. Come on then FIA make a stand on a delibrate act. Joke you are, failed Ham big time with your unreal 20 secs on KMag nothing on Ros. The one were it destroyed the race the driver got no penalty haha

  6. Rosberg clearly thinks he can do whatever he wants this season, Mercedes and Hamilton will just have to suck it up and – as in Monaco – the team will have to clean up his mess. Getting seriously unpleasant.

        1. If you mean Hamilton not slowing down to let Rosberg past at Hungary, he ignored an instruction (actually initially a reminder by his engineer to not block Rosberg) that the team later admitted had been the wrong decision made under pressure. Is that what you mean?

  7. Yes, it can and I hope it will. If i was Lewis, I’ll see i take my revenge. It wont happen again only if the cars are not close to each other on the grid and if you decide to sabotage one car, we all know whose car that would be.

  8. Mercedes should say to Rosbug, “you’ve cost the team 25 points, we’re going to put the reserve driver in your car for the next two races”. This would make the championship fair, be a deterrent/warning to Rosbug & Hamilton to behave themselves, whilst still allowing the team to accumulate construction points.

          1. Apart from Crashtor Maldonado obviously. Funny thing is that these types of collisions happen every year multiple times and now it is suddenly on purpose. Oh come on Alonso did that in this race, Hamilton did that himself in Singapore 2011 and both of those were much more one side at fault incidents than this one.

          2. You are talking exclusively by emotions. Racing is a different thing. It was a small, classic racing accident with enormous EMOTIONAL consequences. The fact is that 2 young men are racing side by side every race and it’s absolutely normal this happens. Get over it

  9. As it’s now been confirmed by Mercedes that Rosberg deliberately caused the collision – surely then this means the FIA should give him a penalty for deliberately causing a collision? (whether Mercedes do or not)… and surely it has to be more severe than causing an avoidable collision.

    My guess a possible race ban, but a DSQL for this race at least.

  10. Rosberg’s admission to causing the collision and damage to Hamilton’s car has very serious implications. How can Hamilton or Mercedes trust him in the car after admitting to taking out Hamilton as payback (??!!!) for some imagined wrong caused to him in Hungary? Even presuming Mercedes attempt to hold the pieces together somehow, are these acceptable working conditions for Hamilton given the likelihood of them sharing the same track space? And surely FIA have to investigate this and impose a race ban on Rosberg as a reality check. It’s a highly dangerous precedent.

  11. So Rosberg’s mistake has cost Mercedes 25 points and more importantly, the publicity of a win. The team is going to take that quite seriously.
    It’s clear that Rosberg didn’t intend to damage Hamilton’s car – in a bump like that, normally the car behind takes the damage; Rosberg was just trying to unsettle Hamilton, which is exactly what he should be doing. But clumsy driving and a bit of meanness messed it up. It was a racing incident, which is why it didn’t even get scrutinised by the stewards. See the reply above from @matt90.
    The thing I find heartbreaking is that Rosberg didn’t lose any points, he still got second place. That’s not much incentive to change.

    1. the publicity of a win

      Let’s be honest, though… They’re getting a tonne more prolonged [bad] publicity for this incident than if “Mercedes won again”.

      Put it this way, it’s a few hours after the race, and unfortunately, not many people are talking about Daniel, but Nico and Lewis are still headline news.

  12. The word Karma springs to mind. I have memories of Lewis being involved in exactly the same tactic in earlier years against opponents claiming racing incident. Most notably against Felipe Massa in Brazil in the dip just before the start finish straight.

          1. And had a frond wheel locked and smocking so you knew he wasn’t deliberately trying to do anything but simply didn’t manage to control and stop the car before he hit him.
            And Massa from all people that always drives with a vindictive attitude after 2008 against Hamilton and hit him a dozen times being used as an example of supposedly being Hamilton’s victim is the biggest irony of all.

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