Lewis Hamilton insists he will continue to race his championship rival Nico Rosberg, despite their dramatic last-lap crash in yesterday’s Austrian Grand Prix.
Hamilton secured his third victory of the campaign to move to within 11 points of Rosberg after their collision.
Rosberg appeared on course to extend his lead in the championship, but crashed into Hamilton as the Briton attempted to pass his Mercedes team-mate around the outside of turn two.
The German, who was subsequently handed a 10-second retrospective penalty for the crash by the stewards, sustained damage to his front wing, and limped home only in fourth place.
It marked the third time in five races that the Mercedes team-mates have collided. And naturally, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, who described the coming together as “brainless”, has said the team will now decide whether orders must be imposed on their drivers for the remaining 12 races.
Explaining the incident, Hamilton, who was booed on the podium, said: “I drove as wide as possible, and I left a lot of space. Three cars could have come on the inside of me.
“The team wants to finish first and second. That’s our goal. That’s my goal. But certain circumstances have led us to where we are today. We have lots more races ahead, and we are going to continue to race.
“I’m fighting for a world championship so I’m going to keep fighting, and hopefully through these experiences there’ll will be no more collisions. Hopefully, they’ll be a blip in the mist and we’ll keep racing.”
Whether they are allowed to race will be left in the hands of Wolff and the Mercedes hierarchy. Wolff, who thumped his fist on the table as he watched the incident unfold, said: “It was brainless. We are looking like a bunch of idiots.”
Later, when addressing the written press in more reflective mood, he added: “I don’t want to attribute blame because every time you watch the video there’s new information.
“You can’t clearly say who’s more to blame than the other. I have my personal opinion, I’m not going to express it, but as a matter of fact it needs to be avoided.
“The only consequence is to look at all the options, and one option is to freeze the order at the certain stage of the race. It’s unpopular, and makes me puke because I like to see them race, but if the racing is not possible without contact that’s the consequence.”
Rosberg protested his innocence, but the majority of those in the paddock, as well as the race stewards, deemed him to be the guilty party.
“I’m on the inside and I have the right to defend,” Rosberg said. “I don’t need to take the ideal line, and I had Lewis on the outside and I wanted to keep him there.
“Of course I am leaving him track space, that’s clear. That was always the intention.
“I’m just extremely frustrated because I had the win in the bag and even in the moment I was sure that I’m in a good position here to defend and win this. The collision completely took me by surprise. I didn’t expect Lewis to turn in.”
Rosberg added: “I got penalised which doesn’t change my result, but they give me the blame which sucks. I respect that, but I’m of a different opinion.”
Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen benefited from the dramatic ending to finish second and third respectively. Jenson Button crossed the line in sixth - his best result of the season - with British rookie Jolyon Palmer 12th.
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