This startling picture shows Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton moments before their crash on lap 1 of the Spanish Grand Prix.
Both drivers were some 40 yards off the racing line, but why?
Coming out of turn 3, Hamilton saw an opportunity to pounce on Rosberg just moments after being passed by the German. Hamilton noticed that Rosberg’s engine was running out of hybrid boost – indicated by the stoppage of the red flashing light on the back of his car – and pounced.
Hamilton went well inside the racing line to make the pass, but Rosberg masterfully defended, forcing Hamilton tight against the grass verge. Refusing to give up, Hamilton kept his foot fully-down on the throttle and tried once more to pass Rosberg, only to be forced even wider.
TV images showed that Hamilton had his front wing alongside Rosberg’s rear wheel. In theory, this usually means the defending driver must leave a car’s width of space, but Rosberg wasn’t about to play easy.
In a blurry sequence of events, Hamilton’s wheels took to the grass and the 3-time world champion spun violently before hitting his teammate, sending them both into the gravel trap and out of the race.
Who Caused The Pandemonium?
Unsurprisingly, both drivers instantly pointed the finger at one another amidst heated discussions with Mercedes heavyweights Paddy Lowe and Toto Wolf.
Hamilton’s corner of the ring:
“I was gaining on him at fairly decent pace and where he positioned the car was a car width to the right of the racing line and I had to decide whether to go left or right. The inside is always what you’d go for; there was a much bigger gap. I had part of my wing and wheel alongside within the white line and then that diminished pretty quickly. I did what I could to avoid an incident by going on the grass but it all happened pretty quickly.”
“I saw Lewis closing in, so as soon as I could I closed the door to the inside with a clear strong move to make sure he understands there is not going to be space there and I was very surprised that he went for it anyway. That’s it. Then we were in the sand trap. In the end, we have to go with what the experts think and the experts have decided it was a racing incident.”
If we’re being super-judicious, Rosberg actually breached article 27.7 of the sporting regulations, which calls for the leading driver to give room if there is a “significant proportion of the car attempting to pass alongside”. But in a sport dominated by power, egos and death-wish gladiators, rules don’t always fly.
Who do you think cause the accident?