What next for Mercedes as FIA clears Rosberg over Hamilton?
Relationship between the drivers is 'unmanageable', but row is like 'gold dust' for F1
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg will not face an investigation into his collision with Lewis Hamilton at Spa on Sunday, despite the English driver's claims that his team-mate hit him on purpose.
F1's governing bidy, the FAI, told the Daily Mail it would "not intervene" in the row unless new evidence came to light. At the time the collision was treated as a "racing incident", and Hamilton's accusation that Rosberg had admitted hitting him on purpose has not changed matters.
The incident on lap two of the race overshadowed a Belgian Grand Prix won by Daniel Ricciardo, of Red Bull, who has sneaked into the title reckoning as the Mercedes drivers take pot shots at each other.
The collision, which came as Rosberg attempted to overtake his team-mate, effectively forced Hamilton out of the race with a puncture, and front wing damage contributed to Rosberg's failure to beat Ricciardo to the chequered flag. Rosberg was later booed on the podium.
There is no longer any doubt that civil war has broken out at Mercedes, and team principle Toto Wolff condemned the incident as unacceptable. He promised that Rosberg would be dealt with internally but it's hard to see what he can do.
The drivers' rivalry has become "unmanageable" says Daniel Johnson of the Daily Telegraph. "How do you control two feuding drivers, apparently prepared to cause damage to the other’s car?" he asks. "It is almost impossible to envisage any return to what you might describe as 'normal' rules of engagement."
Even using team orders will no longer work after Hamilton ignored them in the previous Grand Prix in Hungary, adds Johnson.
But the situation is "gold dust" for the sport says David Coulthard of the BBC.
"This is an emotional roller-coaster. This is man and machine on the edge with high-pressure stakes. And Mercedes are doing a very good job of giving the public exactly what they want."
Hamilton was not to blame for the crash, but although Coulthard says it was Rosberg's fault he does not agree that he crashed on purpose. "I cannot believe for one moment a driver would consciously damage his own car," he says. "Rosberg wanted to prove a point, to be more robust with Hamilton. This was his first opportunity, but he was a bit ham-fisted and got it wrong."
There was sympathy for Hamilton from his former McLaren team-mate Jenson Button who said the Mercedes man had suffered a massive amount of bad luck this season.
"It is a shame it is not a cleaner fight," he added. "I have always said that the person who wins the world championship this year is the person who does the best job on the circuit but it does not quite seem that is the way it is at the moment."