After twelve races, the inevitable has happened: Mercedes teammates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton collided out on track whilst fighting for the lead of today’s Belgian Grand Prix.
Having started from pole, Rosberg made a poor start to drop to third place behind Hamilton and Vettel. The Red Bull driver fell back behind Rosberg after running wide, allowing the German driver to have a run on Hamilton.
He appeared to have the measure of him on the back straight, but Hamilton had track position, and defending well into Les Combes. Rosberg did not pull out of the move, though, and tried an opportunistic pass on his teammate around the outside of the corner.
The front wing of Rosberg’s car made contact with Hamilton’s left-rear tire, giving the Briton a puncture and costing Rosberg his front endplate. The German continued, but Hamilton was reduced to a crawl thanks to the damage to his car.
He did managed to get his car back to the pits to take on a fresh set of tires, but the damage to Hamilton’s race was done: he was already way down the order.
In one of the most fascinating championship battles in years, this is the latest chapter in an intra-team relationship that appears to be quickly souring.
On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.
And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.
Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.
The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.
“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.
“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.
“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”
A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.