Mercedes takes “disciplinary measures” as Rosberg accepts blame

2014 Belgian Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2014Nico Rosberg has apologised for colliding with Lewis Hamilton during Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix, Mercedes have confirmed.

The team said “suitable disciplinary measures” have been taken, but did not specify what these involved, and said the pair “remain free to race” for the world championship.

A statement released on Friday said: “Toto Wolff, Paddy Lowe, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton met today in the boardroom of Mercedes AMG Petronas headquarters in Brackley to discuss the events of the Belgian Grand Prix.

“During this meeting, Nico acknowledged his responsibility for the contact that occurred on lap two of the Belgian Grand Prix and apologised for this error of judgement.

“Suitable disciplinary measures have been taken for the incident.

“Mercedes-Benz remains committed to hard, fair racing because this is the right way to win world championships. It is good for the team, for the fans and for Formula One.

“Lewis and Nico understand and accept the team’s number one rule: there must be no contact between the team’s cars on track.

“It has been made clear that another such incident will not be tolerated. But Nico and Lewis are our drivers and we believe in them.

“They remain free to race for the 2014 FIA Formula One world championship.”

Rosberg also issued a statement accepting responsibility for the collision.

“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,” he said.

“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. As drivers, we have a clear responsibility to the team, the fans of the sport, our partners and Mercedes-Benz to deliver clean racing. We take that responsibility very seriously.

“I look forward to concluding the season with hard, fair competition on and off track right up to the final lap of the season in Abu Dhabi.”

2014 Belgian Grand Prix

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210 comments on Mercedes takes “disciplinary measures” as Rosberg accepts blame

  1. Maciek (@maciek) said on 29th August 2014, 14:19

    Suitable disciplinary measures…. hmm, my guess is they’ve taken away his hair products. But seriously, what can a team really do to a millionaire star driver leading the championship that might plausibly be described as ‘disciplinary’?

    • petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 29th August 2014, 14:24

      @maciek – The only thing that they could do that would hurt Nico would be to ban him for a race but that would effectively be punishing themselves so why would they?

      He’s got more money than anyone could ever need, is the clear leader in the WDC and will earn more money by winning the championship than Mercedes could get away with fining him.

      • JimG (@jimg) said on 29th August 2014, 14:48

        @petebaldwin, @maciek: The only thing I can think of to punish Nico but not the team would be to order him to let Lewis past the next time he’s in the lead. What if he didn’t do it? How about this for a nuclear option: I’ve seen a few mentions of Nico having a contract for next year, but would disobeying such an order break that contract? Bear in mind that this would not be a tactical team order during a race, sprung on a driver in the heat of battle, but a premeditated order given and agreed to before the race.

    • Michael (@freelittlebirds) said on 29th August 2014, 14:36

      +1 – If the measures don’t involve points, they are irrelevant.

  2. Tiomkin said on 29th August 2014, 14:20

    They should suspend him for one race and tell him, “It’s to prove a point”. I’ll bet he never repeats that maneuver again.

    • RogerA said on 29th August 2014, 14:41

      No they should not have suspended him, That would amount to a team manipulating the championship.

      Had they suspended Nico for a race & had Lewis won the championship by a few points it would have been a tainted win & it would have basically been gifted to him by the team.
      It would need a * by it in the record books for sure.

      • Ian W said on 29th August 2014, 15:05

        Surely that is ignoring that Nico has manipulated the championship by either incompetend driving or taking a rival out of a race.

        • RogerA said on 29th August 2014, 17:15

          Mistakes happen, You can’t go around suspending every driver who makes an error & happens to have contact with another driver.

          A driver making a small error & clipping another car is also completely different to a team actively stepping in & taking a championship contender out of the car for a race.

          Drivers makes mistakes & sometimes in close racing there will be some contact between cars & its possible in that situation that one car will suffer more damage. Its unfortunate but it happens & that will always have some affect on the championship standings be it the main title fight or lower down.

          Hamilton himself locked up coming trhough the field at Hockenheim & clipped Kimi Raikkonen which damaged Kimi’s front wing, Later on Vettel also clipped Kimi which further damaged the wing.
          That damage hurt Kimi’s race & could end up dropping him a spot or 2 down the final championship standings so should Lewis & Vettel be parked for a race for affecting someones championship position? Of course not,
          It was a racing deal, Its unfortunate Kimi got damage that harmed his performance & that it may cost him in the standings but its how it is.

          Should Lewis have been parked back in 2010 when he cut Vettel’s tyre at Silverstone due to a small error of judgement? That may have cost Vettel the championship had the safety car not come out later which gave him a shot at points.

          Hamilton & his fans need to get over it, What happened was unfortunate but it was still a pure racing incident caused by a very tiny error of judgement. No punishment should be handed down, Just leave them to race it out on track right down to the end.

          I’d say the same had things been reversed & if it were Lewis who made the small error. As I say these things happen, Lets move on to Monza.

          • Michael (@freelittlebirds) said on 29th August 2014, 20:12

            That is a good point – if clipping wings is so normal why then is everyone so upset about this and blaming Nico for doing it deliberately? Why? Obviously if Nico was such a great guy then the thought would never cross our minds, right? Or is it because we feel that Nico is the kind of guy that would do something like that on purpose?

            Look at the big collision between Maldonado and Gutierrez – even though Maldonado has been involved in many accidents, no one suggested that he did that intentionally.

      • Tiomkin said on 29th August 2014, 16:27

        Isn’t deliberately causing an ‘accident’ manipulating the results. If the result was Hamilton in hospital or out for the rest of the season, people won’t be so quick to back Nico. He is a professional driver and therefore should face harsh penalties for willfully crashing his car. A suspension is light. Fining him cash makes no difference to a Millionaire.

        • RogerA said on 29th August 2014, 20:04

          Have proof it was deliberate?

          No didn’t think so.

          Just another pathetic hamilton fan going along with there hero playing the victim, its so sad.

          • Michael (@freelittlebirds) said on 29th August 2014, 20:14

            You do realize that you just called Hamilton a hero, right? I’m just saying that you might be in denial:-)

    • Breno (@austus) said on 30th August 2014, 0:34

      Meanwhile, back in the days Briatore just fired drivers when he was unhappy.

  3. pking008 (@pking008) said on 29th August 2014, 14:26

    That is very very convenient for Nico isn’t it? He had a chance to apologize on the podium he didn’t. He had a chance to apologize afterwards, he didn’t, he had a chance to do so even at the meeting of 16.45 he didn’t insisting he did it to prove a point. Now, the whole world is descending on Mercedes and its sponsors and voila, all of a sudden he takes responsibility almost a week after the event at a new meeting after tweeting just a day ago that Lewis was lying about what he said in the first meeting and we are supposed to believe him? Also conveniently, he is laughing all the way to the WDC with a 29 points lead illegally accumulated in Monaco and Spa. What exactly is the disciplinary action against him? we would like to know Toto.

  4. pking008 (@pking008) said on 29th August 2014, 14:28

    Now, I wish it was still like the old days when you can visit physical violence on your opponents and Lewis knock that smirk off his face.

  5. To all those thinking that the chances of Lewis and Nico hitting each other again is high, I wouldn’t whink so. They both now know that the consequences of a second crash can be huge and I am sure they will be extra carefull when they are close at the track.

  6. lawrence said on 29th August 2014, 14:49

    I guess the team more worried about PR than about the genuine atmosphere within the team, will be pressured into this kind of nonsense by Hamilton’s media dramas. He is basically using media to deal with his own team and get his own way.
    Toto is a sad joke, not a team principal.

  7. MattB (@mattb) said on 29th August 2014, 14:51

    I’d imagine that the conversation went something like: “The next time you crash into your team mate, we shall make sure that your car has a problem qualifying for Abu Double”.

  8. Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 29th August 2014, 14:52

    Lewis has also now issued a statement.

    Today we came together as a team and discussed our differences. Nico and I accept that we have both made mistakes and I feel it would be wrong to point fingers and say which one is worse than the other. What’s important is how we rise as a team from these situations. We win and we lose together and, as a team, we will emerge stronger.

    There is a deep foundation that still exists for me and Nico to work from, in spite of our difficult times and differences. We have the greatest team, the strongest group of individuals who have worked their hands to the bone to give us the best car you see us racing today. It’s important that we never forget that and give them the results they deserve. Today, Toto and Paddy told us clearly how we must race against each other from now on in a fair and respectful manner.

    The fans want to see a clean fight until the end of the season and that’s what we want to give them. It’s going to be a tough road from here but Championships have been won from much further back than I am now. And I promise you that I will be giving everything and more to win this for my team, for my family and for my fans.

  9. Regarding the disciplinary action or punishment for Rosberg, I believe the best thing to do would be to give Lewis a slightly more advantageous strategy, such as pitting him before Nico for one race when he is not ahead.

  10. Michael (@freelittlebirds) said on 29th August 2014, 14:54

    I guess we’ll have to wait until Monza to find out what the disciplinary measures are and whether Lewis was right.

    If the measures don’t affect Nico’s races and his points directly then Lewis was right and Nico will not even receive the proverbial “slap on the wrist”. I think it will be safe to assume at that point that Mercedes has become Team Rosberg.

  11. Holy Hell, why are we still going on about this! It’s nauseating.
    Who cares now, it’s over.

    • Michael (@freelittlebirds) said on 29th August 2014, 17:55

      Are you implying that the championship is over and we should focus on football instead?

      Nico deserved to ruin his own race and he would have been 14 points behind now… 14 points behind versus 29 points ahead (a 43 point swing the wrong way in the championship) by an idiotic amateurish move. And apparently it was done to prove a point while lends huge insult to injury. If Nico accidentally wins the WDC, it’ll be a disaster.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 29th August 2014, 23:22

      Because it’s news, and because like it or not it’s attracted far more attention than any other story over the last few weeks.

  12. Ayrtonfan (@) said on 29th August 2014, 15:12

    Lewis speaks his true words right after an incident- I don’t always agree with him, but they are better than a team prepared statement 10 days later.

    Deep down I don’t think he thinks Nico hit him on purpose (I may be wrong) but he speaks with roar emotion- not unlike Senna V Prost. If this one has not boiled over, it will very soon.

  13. The best parallel situation that comes to my mind is Hulk vs PereZ in Hungary. hulk admitted after the race it was his fault. What I dont remember is if he was penalized during ( or after) the race for that.

  14. Robbie (@robbie) said on 29th August 2014, 15:20

    I was up in Northern Ontario picking blueberries and catching pickerel last weekend. I wasn’t able to see the race live, and managed to go all the way until Wednesday night without knowing what happened, and watched my recording of it as if it was live, very late Wednesday night into Thursday morning. So of course I was a thousand comments behind by the time I came here to the site.

    Bottom line for me…I am thrilled to read both of the latest comments from NR and LH as they have expressed exactly what I hoped to hear and expect for the rest of the season. This is a great rivalry and the team continues to prove that even though it would have been much easier to hire one rooster and one other to lick his boots, that’s not how they play, and they get that the bumpy ride that this is is far more thrilling and is what the fans pay to see, and is worth the ‘headaches’ that can come with managing two roosters. As I have said before, Mercedes gets it and I cannot thank them enough.

    • William Stuart (@williamstuart) said on 29th August 2014, 20:48

      Good that someone has said this, it must be such a ballache for Toto and Nicki to keep their word, it must be so hard to watch the close racing. But it seems that they have the same underlying view as the fans, and that’s great for the sport.

  15. Frasier (@frasier) said on 29th August 2014, 15:26

    Slightly worrying that we have Derek Warwick as the driver steward, wonder if he still thinks you’ll not find a more honest driver than Nico Rosberg, whose early career opinions are aired in the article below on bending the rules.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/06/sports/06iht-prix.2718507.html?_r=3&

    Yes, it’s been posted before, but a personal quote is worth repeating.

    This week Warwick was quoted in the Daily Telegraph as saying.

    “I think what Nico was trying to say is he’s had enough of the forceful driving of Hamilton at Bahrain and again at Budapest, and he wasn’t going to give in. I think it’s an internal problem, not really a problem for the FIA or the stewards. They [Mercedes] have to somehow reprimand Rosberg and make sure these two guys don’t touch each other.”

    So, the stewards in Monza are going to look the other way again… unless there’s a possibility Lewis can be penalised, Derek Warwick was also steward for the incident in the link below

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2G2eA-QmVg

    Oh dear…

    • Ed Marques (@edmarques) said on 29th August 2014, 15:58

      Warwick again? Poor Hamilton.

    • Apparently Derek Warwick has been a steward in some of the most controversial steward decisions concerning Lewis Hamilton over the years.
      It suffices to say that Derek Warwick is at war with Lewis Hamilton.

      • ADD (@addimaf1) said on 29th August 2014, 16:31

        Please tell me he’s not the one behind the 2008 Belgian grand prix decision.

        • PeterG said on 29th August 2014, 18:06

          They didn’t have driver stewards in 2008. They had 3 stewards selected at random & a permanent steward (Who’s name I forget) who would attend every race.

          And I think the hatred been aimed at Derek Warwick is a bit pathetic to be honest.

          Nobody seemed to have an issue with him until he took a decision that went against Lewis & he’s been acting as a driver steward since 2010 & by all accounts is one of the most respected of the driver stewards amongst teams/driver because of how seriously he takes the role, Hence why he’s been invited to do it more than others.

          People can keep going on about Monaco, BUt have you seen all the data that the stewards did?
          Its easy to look at a bit of video & say whatever you want, But when you have all of the data, All of the angles & a knowledge of whats its like to drive one of these cars & how they react to certain situations, You are going to have a far better insight to make the decisions these stewards do, Thats why they brought in driver stewards to begin with.

  16. Cornflakes (@cornflakes) said on 29th August 2014, 15:30

    I hope we gain some insight on what these ‘disciplinary measures’ could be. If you were Toto Wolff et al., what would you do? The only thing I can think of that would impact only on Nico is a pay cut, and when becoming F1 World Champion for the first time is at stake, I’m willing to bet Nico would sacrifice his entire year’s salary for the chance.

    No, these sanctions will do little to prevent ‘heat of the moment’ acts unless of course the FIA stepped in and deducted his points. This is basically Merc’s way of saying they won’t tolerate it but the driver’s way of saying nothing will change (which is great for us fans!)

  17. Steven (@steevkay) said on 29th August 2014, 15:31

    The thing is, all that really can be done is a slap on the wrist since anything to hinder the driver can hinder the team’s outlook as well (i.e. constructor points).

    I’d do something like remove FP1 & FP2 time in favor of a young driver so that offending drivers lose out on practice/setup time at the track, but ultimately still have the equipment to get a high qualifying spot and race finish.

    It doesn’t seem like all this matters when the drivers are ultimately left free to race anyway; hopefully they both learn from this experience and are a bit more careful around each other.

  18. Ron Mon (@henslayer) said on 29th August 2014, 15:44

    Now that Hamilton knows that he can do whatever he wants and Rosberg will get blamed, watch out!

  19. lawrence said on 29th August 2014, 16:36

    This is just showing how weak the leadership of this team is. That they had to hang Nico out this way in order to appease media that was sent into frenzy by their own driver (Lewis) in the first place.
    Team can’t distinguish between good PR and good deeds.
    I’ve never really expected more from Toto, the guy who is too concerned by his own PR, since he pretty much lucked into being the principal of the top team.
    I really don’t see him having any kind of a clue how to build on from where Ross left.

    In my opinion, firstly Toto and Lauda should have kept their mouths shut during the GP. Then they should have reminded Lewis that you don’t wash dirty laundry in the public, and finally, should have kept everything inside after this internal discussion.

    I can’t see no other point in announcing all this to the media, besides pleasing the media and getting some good PR. But the real team shouldn’t prioritize that over the integrity and that mantra that you win like a team and you lose like a team.

    • Tiomkin said on 29th August 2014, 17:00

      Nico admits he crashed on purpose, but in your mind it’s Lewis’ fault.

      **facepalm**

      So if someone attacks you and steals your wallet, it’s your fault. Ok, I get it now.

      • RogerA said on 29th August 2014, 18:14

        Nico never admitted he crashed on purpose.

        The only person that ever said that was Lewis & we all know he will say anything to get people to feel bad for him because he likes playing the victim.

        • lawrence said on 29th August 2014, 22:58

          Exactly.

        • “The only person that ever said that was Lewis”

          Goto Autosport and read Toto’s interview, he said the same as Lewis, that Rosberg did it to prove a point. That’s besides the fact that the Merc spokesperson came out immediatly after the meeting and said Lewis statement was broadly accurate. If you dont take that to mean that Nico, at very least implied that he was at fault, then i feel sorry for you.

          But whatever, don’t let these little facts destroy the image you’re trying to create about Lewis.

  20. Casanova (@casanova) said on 29th August 2014, 17:08

    What I find most sad about this affair has been Rosberg’s handling of it. He must have known as soon as he saw Hamilton snaking off the track with a puncture that (a) he’d cocked up, and (b) he’d gained a substantial championship benefit from it.

    And yet, after the race, his words were “I regret the contact because it meant I didn’t win” – a brazenly self-centred view of the accident. His more appropriate public apology has only now appeared, 5 days after the race, having been ordered to make it by the Mercedes bosses. I have been a Rosberg fan since he broke into F1 with Williams, but my opinion of him has been shattered by this. Not by the contact itself – we all make mistakes, and it’s inevitably going to happen sooner or later when two drivers are going wheel-to-wheel. No, it’s the pathetic refusal to apologize for a clear error until told to do so. I know racing drivers are supposed to be selfish, blinkered, ruthless operators, but it would have taken only an ounce of sportsmanship, and no loss of face, to put his hands up after the race and make a proper apology.

    Compare Nico Hülkenberg’s statements after hitting Perez in Hungary, and you will see a much more humble and honourable driver.

    Some will argue that there will have been many more things said in private than have been said to the media, and this is of course true – we can’t know the full dialogue that has occurred between Lewis, Nico and the Mercedes management. But I think Nico owes that apology to the fans and followers of the sport, not just to Lewis. A mistake made with the world watching deserves a prompt apology under the same spotlight.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 29th August 2014, 23:25

      @casanova

      after the race, his words were “I regret the contact because it meant I didn’t win”

      I don’t think that’s a direct quote, and I’m not sure which quote of his you might be paraphrasing?

      • Casanova said on 29th August 2014, 23:38

        I paraphrased from memory a quote appears in Lee MacKenzie’s post-race interview with Rosberg. I’ve dug it out – it can be seen at ~52:50 of the BBC’s highlights program. Rosberg’ answer begins: “For sure, I regret that we touched, yes definitely, because it cost me the win”.

        • Robbie (@robbie) said on 1st September 2014, 14:05

          @casanova I must admit I amongst many was quite curious to hear if NR would apologize while on the podium, and was intrigued that he didn’t. But after hearing more about his intention, which was basically to stand his ground and show LH that he was not going to so easily just allow the door to be shut on him, I understand more why he didn’t apologize.

          Hulk vs. Perez is not the same as NR vs. LH. The world knows NR vs LH is for the WDC this year. I think in NR’s mind, immediately apologizing would have removed the impact of the point he was trying to make to LH…he’s not just going to roll over….he’s not going to back down…he’s going to fight for every inch. NR was not going to apologize for giving us what he want…a hard fought rivalry. If he seemed bull-headed about this, well, that should be welcomed and expected of a WDC level driver, given scenarios like SV getting WDC level hero worship for disobeying a team order in race one of a season against a teammate whose car was cranked down and a sitting duck.

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