Mercedes chiefs have resolved to cool the simmering feud between title-warring teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
Germany’s Bild newspaper reports that when the pair – who collided during the Belgian grand prix – came face-to-face in Germany on Wednesday for a sponsor photoshoot, they barely acknowledged each other’s presence.
In the few days since Sunday at Spa, the drivers have been exchanging their barbs through the media, but team bosses have reportedly now instructed Rosberg and Hamilton to quieten their dispute.
“Toto Wolff, Paddy Lowe and I agreed that hot heads should be cooled this week,” team chairman Niki Lauda confirmed.
“Each word only triggers a reaction from the other. The drivers know now what responsibilities they have,” he added.
The explosive coming-together at Spa-Francorchamps is still the dominant topic in formula one, but the governing FIA has resisted calls to open an investigation despite Hamilton having accused Rosberg of crashing on purpose.
The driver steward in Belgium, Emmanuele Pirro, has revealed to Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport that his fellow FIA officials needed only “10 seconds” to decide against investigating the clash.
“There was no intention,” he insisted. “Perhaps Rosberg was a little cunning and clever to try it, but in the end the main problem was what happened within the team.”
Alain Prost, one of the most successful F1 drivers of all time, agrees that what happened on lap 2 was just “a racing incident”.
“You have to remember that from the cockpit you can’t see your big front wing, and every weekend we see two or three incidents just like it,” he told Russia’s f1news.ru.
“Lewis did not want to leave him more space, and Nico didn’t want to leave the track and perhaps made a small mistake in assessing the situation.
“But he didn’t do it intentionally, because the chance is much higher that you only damage your own car.
“Of course, the consequences were very serious for Lewis, but it was still a racing incident, albeit inflamed by the media and the fans and even the team,” said Prost.
Mark Webber, who until his F1 retirement had an intense rivalry with Sebastian Vettel, tipped the dispute to certainly roll into next weekend’s Italian grand prix at Monza.
“The two of them are going into a media nightmare in Monza,” the Australian told Austrian broadcaster Servus TV.
“The whole story is going to be replayed all over again and it won’t be easy for them to concentrate on the job.
“They will only be paying attention to one another, as they know the constructors’ title is as good as over.
“But Mercedes will overcome this controversy and get both titles,” Webber predicted.
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