The 2016 Spanish Grand Prix turned out to be the best race of the season thus far, and could be one of the best we will see. But it was all possible only after the two Mercedes cars, who were destined to fight for the win, took each other out at Turn 3 on the opening lap leaving Red Bull Racing and Ferrari to battle it out for the win.
It was wrong engine mode on Nico Rosberg's that sparked the incident after the German driver had taken the race lead from Hamilton at Turn 1. The reigning world champion, who is looking to claw back the gap to his teammate in the championship, made a good start and went into the first turn with the lead but his teammate took a wider line and went into Turn 2 with the lead.
However, a sudden switch in engine mode saw Rosberg's car lose power, which saw Hamilton close up and try to pass on the inside leading up to Turn 4 but the German made a string move to the right to close the door, which forced the Briton on the grass and ultimately lose control of the car and spin. This resulted in the second placed Mercedes colliding with the leading silver Arrows car and taking both of them into the gravel with both cars suffering terminal damage.
There was absolute shock in the Mercedes team garage, as Daniel Ricciardo took the lead but was eventually beaten to the win by Max Verstappen — who become the youngest ever winner of a F1 race. Hamilton and Rosberg have given their perspective of the incident, which was deemed as a racing incident by the stewards after the conclusion of the race.
Lewis Hamilton reaction
"Basically from me I got a good start, I just got slipstreamed into Turn 1 and then through Turn 3 I was a lot quicker than Nico. Nico just happened to be in the wrong engine mode and he derated, which I didn't, and I was gaining at him at fairly decent pace. Where he positioned the car, I was a car width to the right of the racing line and at the speed I was catching him I had to decide whether to go left, which is a small gap, or right," the three-time f1 world champion said, as quoted by ESPN F1
"The inside line is always the one you'd go for, there was a much bigger gap and I went for it. I got there and I had part of my wing and part of my wheel alongside within the white line and then that diminished pretty quickly. I did what I could to avoid an incident pretty fast by going on the grass... But it all happened pretty quickly," he added.
Nico Rosberg reaction
"A great start. I was really excited about the first corner move to get the lead and for sure it was my race to win. Then coming out of Turn 3 I noticed I was down on engine power, which in hindsight was because I was in the incorrect mode, because I saw Lewis closing in," the 2016 Drivers' championship leader said, as quoted by ESPN F1.
"As soon as I could, I closed the door. I went to the inside with a clear strong move to make sure that he understands that there is not going to be space there. I was very surprised that he went for it anyway. That is it. Then we were in the sand trap," the German driver added.