Lauda, Wolff disagree over Mercedes clash

Tough day for Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda
Tough day for Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda

(GMM) Mercedes chiefs Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff on Sunday disagreed over the sensational first-lap crash in Barcelona. As the stewards looked into Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg's crash, team chairman and F1 legend Lauda pointed an angry finger at the reigning triple world champion.

"For me, unacceptable," said the great Austrian. "First of all we must talk to Lewis, because Nico was defending his lead," Lauda told German television in Spain. But team boss Wolff disagreed, declaring that it was in fact a "racing incident".

The stewards agreed, and Hamilton told reporters that Rosberg was correcting an underpowered engine setting when he dove into the diminishing gap. As for who was most to blame, "I'm not going to get into it," said Hamilton. "But as I said, huge apologies to the team and I'll do everything to make sure it doesn't happen again." Rosberg also apologized but he hinted he was unhappy with Hamilton's move.

"The stewards' decision is the stewards' decision and so I go with that verdict," said the German. Told that it sounds like he blames Hamilton, Rosberg insisted: "I didn't say that." Wolff explained: "It's not a situation where you can attribute 100 per cent of the blame to either one of the drivers. "Niki Lauda's driver perspective means he has an opinion. This is his instinct and that's fair enough," Wolff said. Lauda said he accepted Hamilton's apology.

"For me it's relatively easy — Lewis apologized, which is fine for me so it's done and we think about the future," he said. Wolff, meanwhile, allayed fears that the crash could cause Mercedes to end its current policy of allowing the drivers to freely race. "We won't change our approach," said Wolff. "We owe it to F1 and to the fans to let them race. We let the drivers race and sometimes."

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