Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg dispute 'blown out of proportion'

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
US Grand Prix: Nico Rosberg throws cap at Lewis Hamilton

The dispute between team-mates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg following the US Grand Prix has been "blown out of proportion", Mercedes say.

Rosberg threw a cap at Hamilton after the race, in which the drivers touched while disputing the lead at the start.

Hamilton's win at Sunday's race in Austin sealed the World Championship.

Team boss Toto Wolff said: "If it were drivers from different teams, it would be seen as completely normal, what we all love to see and like it should be.

"But because it was team-mates, and they touched, we are going to discuss it, as we did many things in the past."

He added that the situation was "political not critical".

In an exclusive interview with BBC Sport, Wolff also addressed Rosberg's behaviour after the race.

The Turn One incident

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton overtook Nico Rosberg in controversial fashion on lap one, sparking an intense battle throughout the rest of the race

Rosberg was unhappy after the race about their battle at Turn One after the start, describing Hamilton's driving in running the German wide and off the track as "very aggressive".

Wolff said: "It is what we want to see and it is what we owe to the fans. It is what racing is about. We don't want to have remote-control puppets who drive around with a metre distance between themselves. It is not how these guys are calibrated and it is not what people want to see and we don't want to see it either.

"But because there is such a huge resource in the team and so many people putting so much effort into delivering such a race car, we don't want any rift to happen between the two sides of the garages."

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Wolff added that he "does not like" the drivers' cars to touch when they are racing but added: "It happens in racing cars between two drivers and it happens even more in the wet.

"But one thing is for sure, it was not intentional from Lewis and it caused a situation where they just touched wheels and that is something that can end in a tricky way for the team, but it didn't."

He added: "Can it be avoided? No. Will it cause us grey hair in the future? It will. But within the team you can talk about such situations and try to avoid them best in the future."

The cap-throwing incident

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg
Toto Wolff was quick to dismiss any talk of a dispute between the pair, saying they have been friends for 25 years

Hamilton, 30, was celebrating the fact he had clinched the world title in the room in which the drivers gather before going out on to the podium.

Just before doing so, he threw the cap for the second-placed driver to Rosberg, 30, who immediately threw it back at him before refusing to take part in the traditional champagne-spraying ceremony on the podium.

Wolff said: "These boys have known each other for 25 years and it was like throwing the cap to your mate and saying, 'Time to go on the podium.'

"The other guy is upset about the whole race. Most upset about having lost the race, about having thrown it away himself, and he just throws the cap back. It is emotions and it is good. These boys have emotions and that's what F1 and racing is all about. Completely normal."

Rosberg clips Hamilton in Belgian GP

He added that Rosberg's mood was caused by the error on lap 48 in which he gifted the lead of the race to Hamilton. Had the German won the race, Hamilton would not have clinched the title on Sunday.

Wolff said: "He was angry with everybody, with the world, with Lewis, with himself.

"As a sportsperson you just feel like vomiting and the good or the bad thing about F1 is it happens under the eyes of millions of spectators. Every move and every sentence and every emotion is being analysed. But it is completely normal."

What next?

The Turn One incident was the latest of several over the last two years in which Rosberg has come off worse against Hamilton in wheel-to-wheel racing.

Mercedes duo's desert duel

But Wolff said he was not concerned that Rosberg would try to retaliate either at this weekend's race in Mexico or in the future.

"We have had many situations before where we sat down and discussed, not just about the drivers and on-track incidents, but how to optimise the team as well," Wolff said.

"This is how we tackle things and I am sure once we are in Mexico it will all be fine."

He said that although both the drivers' and constructors' titles were won, Mercedes would not alter their approach over the remaining three races.

"We will enter those races with the same approach we have had in the past," Wolff said.

"We need to keep the tension in the situation and not relax. It is about winning races. That is our approach and mentality - but equally the 2016 world championship