Toto Wolff has declared Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg's collision at the start of the Spanish Grand Prix as a 'racing incident' and says it will not change Mercedes' strategy of allowing the two rivals to race one another.
Hamilton had started on pole position but having lost the lead to Rosberg as they rounded the opening turn, attempted to respond by attacking on the run down to the turn four right-hander after a slow exit triggered by his car being in an 'incorrect power mode'.
With Hamilton moving to the inside of Rosberg, the German would defend the line and force his team-mate onto the grass. However, with no grip, Hamilton lost control of his W07, spinning back onto the track at the apex of turn four and swiping out Rosberg.
Putting both out of the race for Mercedes' first double DNF since the 2011 Australian Grand Prix, a meeting between the drivers and management concluded with Wolff saying both were remorseful for the situation, if not to one another.
Regardless, Wolff also says Mercedes is refusing to point the finger of blame, despite Niki Lauda stating on live TV that he felt Hamilton was the aggressor.
"Nico was in the wrong setting and that is why he lost power out of three. He didn't have as much energy as Lewis had. I would say a racing incident, a very unfortunate racing incident triggered by various circumstances. Really difficult to judge. Lewis has apologised for the incident and both of them were pretty upset about the situation that the team has been let down
“There are people in the team [Lauda] with racing experience and an opinion and the opinion differed from all of us. What I take home was that it was an incident that could have been avoided from both sides. It is difficult to attribute the percentages of blame.”
Though it is not the first time the pair have made contact in racing conditions – most famously at Spa in 2014 -, it is the first time they have crashed out as a result of a collision. Despite this, Wolff says it doesn't change the approach of allowing the drivers to race.
“We have moved on from Spa in 2014 and it was a completely different situation in the team back then,” he said. “By continuing the approach of letting them race it was clear that eventually this could happen and we will continue to let them race. Today was just a couple of unfortunate coincidences that ended up in us losing as a team for me it was different than Spa.”