Hamilton claims Rosberg admitted to hitting him on purpose in debrief

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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.”

Recapping the 2018 Dakar Rally with “best of” video highlights

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EDITOR’S NOTE: NBCSN will air additional Dakar Rally highlights on Monday at 7 p.m. ET.

As it has done so for four decades, the 40th annual Dakar Rally – the most grueling test of man and machine anywhere – produced a number of surprise finishes and also several disappointments for drivers or riders who were expected to do well in the nearly 5,600-mile trek that began in Peru and continued through Bolivia and ending in Argentina.

NBCSN has aired highlights from all 14 stages (actually 13, because one stage was completely rained out) during the Rally’s two-week run, which concluded Saturday.

Here’s some of the “best of” highlights from the overall Rally highlights, followed by a quick guide that gives you wrapups to all 14 stages.

So, without further adieu, here’s NBCSN’s “best of” the 2018 Dakar Rally:

2018 Dakar Rally: Best of cars

2018 Dakar Rally: Best of bikes

2018 Dakar Rally: Best of trucks

2018 Dakar Rally: Best of quads

Lastly, here’s a day-by-day wrapup of how the Rally played out.

MORE: Dakar Rally daily stages schedule, NBCSN broadcast schedule, list of all competitors.

MORE: Stage 14 overall Rally wrapup

MORE: Stage 13 wrapup

MORE: Stage 12 wrapup

MORE: Stage 11 wrapup

MORE: Stage 10 wrapup

MORE: Stage 9 cancelled due to weather, impassible course conditions

MORE: Stage 8 wrapup

MORE: Stage 7 wrapup

MORE: Stage 6 wrapup

MORE: Stage 5 wrapup

MORE: Stage 4 wrapup

MORE: Stage 3 wrapup

MORE: Stage 2 wrapup

MORE: Stage 1 wrapup