What had been a “perfect season” for Mercedes turned into a disaster on the opening lap of today’s race in Spain.
After locking up the front row in qualifying, the Spanish Grand Prix had the makings of another runaway race dominated either by Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg. On the initial start, Rosberg got off the line better and drove by Hamilton on the outside to take the lead in turn 1. Hamilton pulled back up to his teammate exiting turn 3 and dove to the bottom to make the pass going into turn 4.
Rosberg moved down to block his advance and he ran onto the grass. Hamilton lost control of his car, spun out, crashed into the back of Rosberg and sent both of them into the sand trap.
Toto Wolff, executive director of Mercedes AMG Petronas, said that Hamilton and Rosberg were “both upset for themselves and the team. They were both apologetic to the team. We lost a potential one-two, lost 43 points. It was just thrown away.”
In response to whether Hamilton or Rosberg were fully to blame for the incident, Wolff said “No. It was a very difficult situation and difficult to analyze. There was not a clear cut thing. Coming out of the corner, Nico closed up the door, and then Lewis went on the grass. Definitely not 100% for one and zero for the other.”
Niki Lauda, three-time world champion and non-executive chairman of Mercedes, laid the blame largely on Hamilton.
“Lewis was too aggressive,” Lauda said after the crash. For both to be out after two corners is completely unacceptable.”
Despite the wreck, Rosberg leaves Barcelona as the championship leader. Reigning world champion Hamilton fell to third with a 43-point deficit on his teammate.
Neither driver has to leave his current residence for the next race, as Formula 1 heads to the streets of Monte Carlo. Rosberg goes into Monaco having won the last three races in one of the crown jewel races of the sport and not having finished worse than second in the last four.