Neither Nico Rosberg nor team-mate Lewis Hamilton were prepared to accept the blame for Sunday’s race-ending crash between the two Mercedes drivers.
The fifth round of the FIA F1 World Championship, held at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain, provided many talking points after a drama-filled encounter, not least the clash between the Mercedes duo.
The race was less than four corners old when Rosberg, who had shot into the lead having started second, and Hamilton collided into one another that put both Brackley-based Mercedes cars out of the race.
Hamilton furiously threw his steering wheel away from his wrecked Mercedes as he climbed out of his car, and with Rosberg also trudging away from his damaged machine, it wasn’t long before both racers were locked in deep conversations with their team management.
The drama began to unfold almost as soon as the start lights flashed off. Rosberg made a superb start to jump clear of three-time world champion and pole-sitter Hamilton, taking the lead around the outside into turn one, but he would soon come under attack from the Briton.
Rosberg’s car ran a little wide, and slowed marginally, presenting Hamilton with a narrowing opportunity to make a move on first position. The two racers migrated to the same piece of tarmac, and with half of Hamilton’s Mercedes losing grip on the grass, contact was inevitable.
The pair collided, sending them spinning off the track and out of the race.
Hamilton apologised to his team for the incident but refused to take responsibility, while Rosberg said: “I saw Lewis closing in so as soon as I could I closed the door to the inside with a 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.
“And that was it. Then we were in the sand trap.”
The incident was referred to the race stewards, but they deemed to take no action, calling it a pure racing accident.
With the Mercedes pair stranded in the gravel and out of the contest, the race was wide open, and it was former Toro Rosso man Max Verstappen who took full advantage as the teenage Dutch racer completed a dream debut for Red Bull when scooping a sensational maiden F1 victory.
Replacing Daniil Kvyat at Red Bull, Verstappen’s victory made him the youngest ever racer to win a Grand Prix.
His victory was also the first for a Dutch driver in the sport’s top category.
Carlos Sainz, his former Toro Rosso team-mate, enjoyed a good home Grand Prix to finish sixth for the part Bicester-based team.
Daniil Kvyat, on his return to Toro Rosso, finished 10th, but it was a difficult race for the Silverstone-based Sahara Force India team.
Sergio Perez claimed seventh while team-mate Nico Hulkenberg suffered another retirement. The German has not scored points since the season opener in Australia.
The season continues next weekend with the famous Monaco Grand Prix around the streets of Monte Carlo.
Standings: 1. Rosberg, 100; 2. Raikkonen, 61; 3. Hamilton, 57; 4. Vettel, 48; 5. Ricciardo, 48; 6. Verstappen, 38. Next race: Monaco, May 29.