Mercedes back Hamilton and Rosber

AP – Formula One champions Mercedes will not rein in Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg after they collided and put each other out of Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix, team boss Toto Wolff said.

The pair crashed as they fought for the lead through the third corner of the opening lap.

The collision ended Rosberg’s run of seven wins in succession, including the first four of the year, and the team’s hopes of a one-two finish.

It wasn’t the first time the drivers had come together.

“We have moved on from Spa in 2014 and it was a completely different situation in the team back then,” Austrian Wolff told reporters, referring to a collision at the Belgian Grand Prix.

“By continuing to let them race (each other) it was clear that eventually this could happen. And we will continue to let them race.”

The second lap collision in 2014 led to a freeze in relations between the drivers, who had been friends and rivals since their teenage years.

In that incident, Rosberg finished second behind Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo while Hamilton ultimately retired with collision damage.

The Briton said later that the German, who was blamed by the team, had declared he had done it on purpose.

Wolff said Sunday’s collision, which the stewards deemed a racing incident, was the result of a number of unfortunate coincidences.

Neither driver was totally to blame.

“I think what matters more is how we come out of the incident as a team,” he said.

“We never threw the toys out of the pram and I think that is another challenge for us, to demonstrate as a team that we can move on from difficult circumstances.”

Hamilton suffered power unit problems in qualifying for the two races before Barcelona, starting at the back in China and from 10th place in Russia, but retained his composure.

The champion is 43 points behind Rosberg with 16 races to go.

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