Former Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg has shared his insights on Lewis Hamilton’s dramatic collision with George Russell during the Qatar Grand Prix, emphasizing the ‘big consequences’ that ensued from the incident. Rosberg, who had his own share of clashes with Hamilton during their tenure as Mercedes teammates, spoke about the incident in a recent interview.
Speaking to Sky Germany, Rosberg remarked, “There isn’t that much to discuss. It’s relatively one-sided. Lewis was trying hard since he was on softs. He was fast enough to try to get past Verstappen, but I think he miscalculated and came a bit too early, and they were three drivers there. He made a small mistake that had big consequences.”
Hamilton’s attempt to pass both George Russell and Max Verstappen on the opening lap of the race resulted in a collision with his teammate, sending Hamilton into the gravel and prematurely ending his race. Russell, though compromised, displayed resilience by recovering to secure a commendable fourth-place finish.
Hamilton took full responsibility for the crash and extended apologies to both Russell and his team post-race, acknowledging the gravity of his error. This incident in Qatar significantly impacted the championship race and the dynamic between the Mercedes drivers.
The rivalry between Rosberg and Hamilton traces back to 2014 when they fiercely contested the world championship title. Their rivalry often manifested in on-track contact, but it wasn’t until the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix that tensions reached a boiling point. During this race, while attempting to overtake his teammate, Hamilton ventured onto the grass and spun out, leading to an early exit for both drivers. The unexpected turn of events allowed Max Verstappen to claim his first-ever race victory at the age of just 18.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was incensed by the duo’s disregard for the team’s interests in pursuit of their personal goals. Subsequently, stricter team orders and regulations were implemented to avoid such conflicts in their championship battle. Ultimately, Rosberg clinched the 2016 championship, a triumph that led to his early retirement at the age of 31.
Reflecting on the incident in Qatar, Rosberg highlighted the role of tire choice, stating, “One can argue that Mercedes gave the driver on the back soft tires, and that obviously led to the issue. Lewis, with the softs, had to be aggressive, or he would have fallen back.”
The collision in Qatar and its repercussions serve as a stark reminder of the delicate balance between individual ambition and team objectives in Formula 1, a tension that has fueled numerous rivalries and controversies throughout the sport’s history.