Lewis Hamilton insists he will continue to race his championship rival Nico Rosberg, despite their dramatic last-lap crash in yesterday’s Austrian Grand Prix.
Hamilton secured his third victory of the campaign to move to within 11 points of Rosberg after their collision.
Rosberg appeared on course to extend his lead in the championship, but crashed into Hamilton as the Briton attempted to pass his Mercedes team-mate around the outside of turn two.
The German, who was subsequently handed a 10-second retrospective penalty for the crash by the stewards, sustained damage to his front wing, and limped home only in fourth place.
It marked the third time in five races that the Mercedes team-mates have collided.
And naturally, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, who described the coming together as “brainless”, has said the team will now decide whether orders must be imposed on their drivers for the remaining 12 races.
Explaining the incident, Hamilton, who was booed on the podium, said: “I drove as wide as possible, and I left a lot of space. Three cars could have come on the inside of me.
“The team wants to finish first and second. That’s our goal. That’s my goal. But certain circumstances have led us to where we are today.
“We have lots more races ahead, and we are going to continue to race.
“I’m fighting for a world championship so I’m going to keep fighting, and hopefully through these experiences there’ll will be no more collisions. Hopefully, they’ll be a blip in the mist and we’ll keep racing.”
On the booing, Hamilton added: “I don’t know why [they’re booing]. It’s not my problem, it’s their problem.”
Whether they are allowed to race will be left in the hands of Wolff and the Mercedes hierarchy.
Speaking to television media, Wolff, who thumped his fist on the table as he watched the incident unfold, said: “It was brainless. We are looking like a bunch of idiots.”
Later, when addressing the written press in more reflective mood, he added: “I don’t want to attribute blame because every time you watch the video there’s new information.
“You can’t clearly say who’s more to blame than the other. I have my personal opinion, I’m not going to express it, but as a matter of fact it needs to be avoided.
“The only consequence is to look at all the options, and one option is to freeze the order at the certain stage of the race.
“It’s unpopular, and makes me puke because I like to see them race, but if the racing is not possible without contact that’s the consequence.”
Rosberg protested his innocence, but the majority of those in the paddock, as well as the race stewards, deemed him to be the guilty party.
“I’m on the inside and I have the right to defend,” Rosberg said.
“I don’t need to take the ideal line, and I had Lewis on the outside and I wanted to keep him there.”
Rosberg added: “I got penalised which doesn’t change my result, but they give me the blame which sucks. I respect that, but I’m of a different opinion.”
Unlike on previous occasions this season, pole-sitter Hamilton made no mistake as he led comfortably into turn one.
Rosberg, starting down the order after a gearbox penalty, was up to fifth at the end of lap one, and then third by the time of his first pit stop.
While Rosberg pitted at the end of lap 10, Mercedes waited a further 11 laps before calling in Hamilton for a fresh set of rubber. As such, Hamilton emerged behind his team-mate.
Sebastian Vettel, celebrating his 29th birthday, acquired the lead of the race, but it did not last for long. As the four-time champion approached 200 mph on the pit straight his right-rear tyre blew up in catastrophic fashion. Vettel lost control of his car, tapped the pit wall, and came to an unceremonious halt at turn one.
Rosberg now led with Hamilton hot on his heels, and Verstappen in third place for Red Bull.
The question now was whether either of the Mercedes drivers could make it to the end of the race on their current set of tyres. And the answer came on lap 54, when Hamilton was hauled into the pits for a second stop of the afternoon. Rosberg followed on the ensuing lap.
Verstappen led ahead of Rosberg and Hamilton, but the Mercedes pair, on fresher tyres, made light work of the Red Bull driver.
It was then a straight shoot-out for the win and it looked as Rosberg would hang on to claim his third win on the bounce in Austria before their dramatic last-lap collision.