WHAT WERE THEY THINKING: 'I blame Lewis more than I blame Nico,' says Niki Lauda, Mercedes' non-executive chairman, following Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg's race-ending crash at the Spanish GP. Image AP
Barcelona - Red Bull's Max Verstappen became Formula 1's youngest race winner at age 18 with a victory at the Spanish Grand Prix after Mercedes team mates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg crashed into each other on the first lap on Sunday.
Verstappen took advantage of the early crash involving the favorites and held on for the victory only a few days after moving up from feeder team Toro Rosso in a controversial driver switch with Daniil Kvyat.
Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was second and team mate Sebastian Vettel third. Verstappen's team mate, Daniel Ricciardo, finished fourth.
Hamilton was in pole position but was overtaken by Rosberg at the start, and when the British driver tried to regain the lead, he appeared to be blocked by his team mate and both cars touched going into Turn 4, spinning across the track and into the gravel at the runoff area. The crash prompted the safety car to be deployed and forced both drivers to retire.
As it happened: 2016 Spanish GP
It was a wild start at the Barcelona track.
Former driver Niki Lauda, Mercedes' non-executive chairman, said from the pits-lane: "Completely unnecessary. That both Mercedes are out after two corners is for me unacceptable. Lewis was too aggressive, why should Nico give him room? He's in the lead. I blame Lewis more than I blame Nico."
Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes motorsport, didn't want to singularly blame one of the drivers.
Wolff said: "A very difficult situation for the team, we lost points. We let the drivers race and sometimes this is what happens. In our opinion, there is not one to blame entirely. They are both pretty upset because they know about the effort. We need to look at the pictures, look at the data and avoid this in the future."
"We have spoken to both drivers and it is not a clear cut decision - we have lost 43 points after lots of effort by the team in the last few difficult weeks."
It was the latest setback for Hamilton, who is yet to win a race in a season in which he has been plagued by mechanical issues and unfortunate incidents. He hasn't won since the United States GP in October.
The crash also ended Rosberg's chance of winning his eighth straight race. He had already won the first four this year and could have become the first driver to win five in a row to start the season since Michael Schumacher with Ferrari in 2004. Nigel Mansell also won the first five races with Williams in 1992.
After another poor start, Hamilton got a good run off Turn 2 and was faster than Rosberg, who moved to the inside to defend his position and squeezed the three-time world champion onto the grass. Hamilton lost control and spun, collecting Rosberg's car in the process entering Turn 4.
Both cars came to a stop in the gravel and could not continue. Hamilton, yet to lead after Turn 1 this season, was visibly upset and threw his steering wheel from the car.
Hamilton was distraught. He threw his steering wheel and knew he had thrown away a chance of claiming his first victory in eight races since he won his third title in Texas in 2015.
With their helmets still on, Rosberg and Hamilton entered the Mercedes offices to discuss the incident. A little later they were joined by Wolff and Lauda.
It ended Rosberg's run of four wins this season and seven in all, dating back to 2015, but did nothing for Hamilton's effort to close the 43-points lead that the German retained ahead of him.
It also revived memories of their acrimonious scraps in the last two years. Stewards said they would investigate the incident.