Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were banned from speaking to their Mercedes Formula 1 team in the immediate fallout of their Belgian Grand Prix crash, the team has revealed, and management made clear that another such incident could result in their dismissal.
Mercedes chiefs were so angry that the pair had collided on lap two of the race at Spa that they took unprecedented action against the pair. Both men were told on the Sunday night in Belgium that they were not allowed to speak to each other, or anyone at the team, until they were contacted. In the meantime, Mercedes chiefs cleared up matters back at the Brackley, UK factory, which included an intense two-hour meeting on the Monday after the race between Rosberg and Hamilton’s team members.
Although there were heated exchanges between the two camps about what had been going on in previous weeks, in the end they settled theirs differences and agreed on a way forward. Only once the situation within the Brackley factory was sorted, Hamilton and Rosberg were ordered to make their way to the team’s base.
Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff has drawn short of confirming details about what happened immediately after Spa, but he says that the situation was bad enough for the team to make clear to both men that they had overstepped the mark. Furthermore, he thinks the fact that both were told that a repeat situation in the future would not be tolerated and could result in one of them losing their drive, ensured that things calmed down.
“We came out of it as a super-strong team,” he said. “We came out and we said: ‘No driver is ever going to interfere with this team. We are one team.’ And it made us so united because maybe the powers shifted a little bit. Not in a power game way, because a game like that is lethal and you cannot play games in a team. But, when we got them [the drivers] back at the factory, they realized.
“We told them that you cannot do that again, because we had bits on the car that were supposed to come at Monza, and bits that were supposed to come at Singapore. People had worked overnight, people didn’t see their families and they had thrown it away on the second lap.
“We were not saying you are 100 percent at fault, or one of you is – but it was enough that it was 51 percent.
“So we said: ‘Don’t do it again. If you do it again, we will decide if we want to continue with this lineup.’ That message being delivered, semi-officially, strengthened the position.”