Berlin: Reigning quadruple Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel has backed compatriot Nico Rosberg in his row with teammate Lewis Hamilton over their crash in Spa 10 days ago.
Rosberg was disciplined by his Mercedes team after admitting he was responsible for crashing into the back of Hamilton on the second lap of the Belgian Grand Prix.
It was an incident, which eventually forced the Briton to retire from the race and cost Rosberg the chance of victory as he trailed in second behind Vettel’s Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo.
But although Rosberg has since apologised after initially suggesting he felt he was right to have a go at the overtaking manoeuvre, Vettel has given his backing to the son of F1 great Keke Rosberg.
“I think it was just a normal race accident which did not deserve to provoke a discussion about intention,” Vettel said, referring to Hamilton’s claim in the immediate aftermath that Rosberg had admitted he “basically did it on purpose”.
Vettel added: “No-one tries to break a wing on purpose and no-one wants to be guilty of disloyal driving because most of the time that doesn’t work.”
It is not just Vettel backing his countryman, fellow German Nico Hulkenberg of Force India feels the same way.
“Nico did everything right: he tried to overtake because he thought he was faster,” he said.
Hamilton’s retirement left him 29 points behind Rosebrg in the championship race with seven GPs left.
Hamilton, who tweeted on Tuesday that his aim was “to claw back” the lead from Rosberg, said then that both had accepted they made mistakes at Spa.
“The fans want to see a clean fight until the end of the season and that’s what we want to give them,” added the 2008 world champion.
“It’s going to be a tough road from here but Championships have been won from much further back than I am now.”
Hamilton may have a psychological advantage going into Monza, the final European round of the season, as the aggrieved party from the previous race and he also has a better record than Rosberg.
The Briton won at the fastest track on the calendar in 2012, his last season with McLaren, and has twice been on pole while Rosberg has never finished higher than fifth and did not even get beyond the first corner in 2011.
Vettel has endured a miserable title defence and sits down in sixth place overall, 58 points behind Ricciardo who only joined the team this season.
Vettel, who has been largely eclipsed by team mate Daniel Ricciardo, took the first win of his F1 career at Monza with Toro Rosso in 2008.