Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg helped Mercedes to its first non-finish since the 2011 Australian Grand Prix thanks to a collision on the opening lap.

While the stewards deemed the matter a racing incident, and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff felt that it would be wrong to single one of them out for blame, it was clear both drivers felt they should not shoulder the full responsibility.

Shortly after seeing the race stewards, both drivers faced the press to explain the incident from their perspective. Here is what they said.

Hamilton: I went for a gap

Lewis Hamilton said that the most over-riding feeling he had in the moments after the crash was of disappointment for the team losing 43 points from a potential 1-2 finish.

"Firstly, I have already apologised to the team," he said. "That was the most gutting thing when I stopped, just thinking about all these things that worked so hard in this team to give me an opportunity to race today.

"To not deliver for them...I've been racing for them for a while so it's not too often this happens, but whenever it does it's a very painful experience for all of us. One thing is we're united and we'll all come back strong."

However, he was adamant that he had done nothing wrong in the incident, as he stood by his instinct for going for a gap when there was an opportunity to capitalise on Rosberg's engine mode situation.

"It wasn't a case of the door was closed yet I decided to go across the grass," he said. "I saw a gap and I went for it and that's what racing drivers do."

Reflecting on the moments building up to the crash, Hamilton explained: "Basically for me I got a good start. I just got slipstreamed into Turn 1 and then through Turn 3 I was a lot quicker than Nico.

"Nico just happened to be in the wrong engine mode and he derated, which I didn't, and I was gaining at him at fairly decent pace.

"Where he positioned the car, I was a car width to the right of the racing line and at the speed I was catching him I had to decide whether to go left, which is a small gap, or right.

"The inside line is always the one you'd go for, there was a much bigger gap and I went for it. I got there and I had part of my wing and part of my wheel alongside within the white line and then that diminished pretty quickly.

"I did what I could to avoid an incident pretty fast by going on the grass … But it all happened pretty quickly."

When asked if the closing speed had taken him by surprise, Hamilton said: "It didn't take me by surprise, I could see the derate light, but then it switched off so I wasn't making any assumptions about what was going on.

"But I had a better run, basically, through the corner. He didn't have the power from then… he did make a switch change afterwards but when you make that change it doesn't kick in for 100 metres or whatever at that speed. So even though he changed it, it wouldn't have made any difference."

Rosberg: he had to understand there was no space

Although Rosberg was well aware that being in the wrong engine mode had been the catalyst for the incident, he was clear that him moving across to defend was the right thing to do.

"[I had] a great start," he said. "I was really excited about the first corner move to get the lead and for sure it was my race to win.

"Then coming out of Turn 3 I noticed I was down on engine power, which in hindsight was because I was in the incorrect mode, because I saw Lewis closing in.

"As soon as I could, I closed the door. I went to the inside with a clear strong move to make sure that he understands that there is not going to be space there. I was very surprised that he went for it anyway. That is it. Then we were in the sand trap."

Although there had been speculation floating about that Rosberg may not have seen where Hamilton was because he was distracted by sorting out his engine mode, he denied that was the case.

"It is a button I have to push, and I know where it is without needing to look because it is my overtake button that I always use. I just pushed that. But I was fully concentrated on the battle with Lewis," he said.

He also dismissed any talk that he had been 'ruthless' in the way he shut the door: "I've said what I thought about my move.

"It was to move over as early as possible in a very clear strong manoeuvre and to make it clear to Lewis that I am going to be covering the inside which is a normal thing for a racing driver to do.

"That is what you do. You block the inside door to make sure that he doesn't get by."

Source: Motorsport.com

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