Hamilton claims Rosberg admitted to hitting him on purpose in debrief


Lewis Hamilton claims that Nico Rosberg admitted that he could have avoided their clash during today’s Belgian Grand Prix, but chose not to so that he could “prove a point” following his defeat at the Hungarian Grand Prix three weeks ago.

On the second lap of the race, Rosberg made contact with Hamilton when trying to make a pass, giving the Briton a left-rear puncture. Hamilton dropped down the order before spending the rest of the race towards the back of the field. He eventually retired with a few laps remaining.

Rosberg went on to finish the race in second place, extending his lead at the top of the drivers’ championship to 29 points.

In a media session on Sunday evening, Hamilton said that Rosberg admitted hitting him on purpose in order to “prove a point” during a debrief with Toto Wolff and Paddy Lowe.

“It looked quite clear to me but we just had a meeting about it and he basically said he did it on purpose,” Hamilton is quoted as saying. “He said he did it on purpose, he said he could have avoided it.

“He said ‘I did it to prove a point’, he basically said ‘I did it to prove a point’.

“And you don’t have to just rely on me, go and ask Toto, Paddy and all those guys who are not happy with him as well.

“We know, and you can ask Fernando and all drivers, when a car is less than half a car length alongside you, and you’re on the inside, it’s your racing line. It’s not your job to go massively out of your way to leave extra room. And it wasn’t one of those corners where there was a wall there or anything, look at Sebastian the lap before. He was actually further up, and he was sensible about it.

“I was gobsmacked when I was just in that meeting. He just came in there and said it was all my fault.”

This incident could have quite severe consequences. The FIA will undoubtedly look into the incident, despite not referring it to the stewards in today’s race, and the team may also look to take some action internally.

Speaking after the race, Toto Wolff made no secret of his anger over the incident.

“Today we saw our worst case scenario when the drivers made contact on lap two, and that ultimately cost us a one-two finish today, because we saw that our car had that kind of performance in it,” he said.

“It has been our clear policy to let the drivers race this year but rule number one is: don’t hit each other.

“To see that kind of contact, so early in the race, is an unacceptable level of risk to be taking out on track. It cannot – and will not – happen again.”

‘Game-changing’ multi-year agreement will take INDYCAR, NBC Sports ‘to the next level’


NEW YORK – As the fourth Nor’easter in three weeks bore down on the Big Apple, it was tough to spot people that were clearly in a good mood.

But Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBCSN, was clearly in a good mood.

On Wednesday morning at 10 am ET, we all found out why: NBC will become the exclusive home of the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500, starting in 2019.

The new three-year deal not only makes “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” part of the network’s “Championship Season” – its collection of high-profile championship events from May to July – but also reaffirms NBC’s status as the home of motorsports television in the United States.

That status is something Miller doesn’t take for granted.

“It’s important people know that storytelling is in our DNA, and motorsports lends itself very well to storytelling,” Miller said as he, INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles and driver James Hinchcliffe made a snowy trek to the New York Stock Exchange to promote the deal on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”

“We’ve had great success with the second half of the entire NASCAR season, and then we’ve had half of the IndyCar package [since 2009] … But we never had the real meat of the series and that didn’t set anybody up for success.

“Having the entire package of IndyCar now – all 17 races, qualifying, practice, you name it – really sets IndyCar on a strong path and solidifies NBC’s position as the home of motorsports. I think it becomes a property much like the Premier League, the NHL, and even the Olympics and the Triple Crown. We have 100 percent of the media opportunity and we can put all those great assets behind it.”

With the storm no doubt keeping some traders home, the floor of the NYSE was relatively subdued. But that made it no less important to be at the heart of Wall Street. Miles and his team are pursuing a new title sponsor for the IndyCar Series to replace Verizon, which will fully focus its efforts in the series with the powerhouse Team Penske going forward in 2019.

The new deal – which includes 8 races per year on the NBC network (with the remaining races going to NBCSN), live streaming of all races, and a direct-to-consumer package with NBC Sports Gold – gave Miles plenty to push for any potential backers. As for Hinchcliffe, he held his own nicely in an interview that also explored IndyCar’s global ambitions, the impact of technology on the sport, and of course, his spin around the ballroom on “Dancing with the Stars.”

On the ride back to 30 Rock, Miles was confident that NBC can play a big role in attracting a sponsor that can help the series keep growing.

“With respect to our work in finding the best title sponsor, it’s really important – and this has not been talked about much – but we expect to work with hand in glove with NBC’s sales,” he explained. “We have the opportunity to create packages which are both broadcast sponsorship and series sponsorship, I think, in a way that doesn’t come along very often.

“Usually, the media deal and the sponsorship deal doesn’t align like this, so we’re really excited about the offering we’ll have and the approach to the market we can take.”

Should the partnership with NBC bear fruit on that front and others, it will only add to the upswing that the IndyCar Series has had in recent years.

Hinchcliffe has been a witness to that. He entered the series in 2011, when it was trying to find its footing after the sport’s reunification three years earlier. After 13 years of CART vs. the Indy Racing League, getting everything back under one roof was not a smooth process.

But fast-forward seven years, and things have changed for the better. TV ratings and digital viewers have gone up. Race scheduling has become more stable and enhanced with the return of traditional open-wheel markets. And this year’s debut of the universal aero kit aims to pump up the action on the track, while also giving the cars a cleaner, meaner look.

Now, with NBC all in, Hinchcliffe is bullish on his sport’s future.

“This is a game-changing thing for us,” he declared. “If you look at the last four or five years, we’ve seen a steady growth in pretty much every measureable metric that there is – in a time where, globally, motorsports is in a bit of a downturn.

“The fact that IndyCar was able to rally against a global dip in motorsports interest, attendance, sponsorship – it speaks volumes to what we have been doing and this is just gonna take us to that next level.”