sport

Rosberg sorry for collision

Nico Rosberg has accepted blame for his collision with Lewis Hamilton at the Belgian Grand Prix, Mercedes revealed on Friday.

In a statement, the championship leaders said that Rosberg has also apologised for his part in the incident on lap two of last Sunday's race at Spa.

Mercedes added that Rosberg and Hamilton, who stand first and second in the World Championship, remain free to race this season.

'Toto Wolff, Paddy Lowe, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton met today in the boardroom of MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS headquarters in Brackley to discuss the events of the Belgian Grand Prix,' the statement read.

'During this meeting, Nico acknowledged his responsibility for the contact that occurred on lap two of the Belgian Grand Prix and apologised for this error of judgement.

'Suitable disciplinary measures have been taken for the incident.'

The German - including one "to the fans who were deprived of our battle for the lead in Belgium" - while Hamilton admitting that "we have both made mistakes" and stressing that they can still work together.

Rosberg was booed on the podium after recovering to finish second behind Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, while Hamilton was forced into retirement as a result of damage his car picked up.

The collision, which occurred at Les Combes as Rosberg was attempting to re-take the lead from Hamilton, has threatened to blow wide open the rivalry between the pair, which has already simmered for most of the season.

Mercedes bosses were furious that a likely one-two finish was scuppered by the collision but Rosberg refused to apologise at the time, even though blame was placed squarely on his shoulders.

The controversy then took a whole new twist when Hamilton, fresh from a post-race de-brief, .

Wolff spoke of "consequences" and after Hamilton expressed doubt that Mercedes would offer little more than a "slap on the wrist", the team boss added rather ominously that they could do "a lot".

Yet it's unclear precisely what disciplinary measures Mercedes have actually taken. The feeling has been that they'd probably keep the matter in-house - a fine and/or reprimand, say, rather than clipping the wings of their championship leader by, for example, giving Hamilton a preferred strategy or even suspending Rosberg.

But with Rosberg now leading Hamilton by 29 points, Mercedes have backed away from the spectre of team orders - albeit with the caveat that what happened at the weekend must remain a one-off.

'Mercedes-Benz remains committed to hard, fair racing because this is the right way to win world championships. It is good for the team, for the fans and for Formula One,' the statement added.

'Lewis and Nico understand and accept the team's number one rule: there must be no contact between the team's cars on track.

'It has been made clear that another such incident will not be tolerated. But Nico and Lewis are our drivers and we believe in them.

'They remain free to race for the 2 014 FIA Formula One World Championship.'

On Thursday, Mercedes conducted a poll of fans on the question of team orders - with 92 per cent saying they wanted Rosberg and Hamilton to keep racing each other.