Lewis Hamilton is out of the Qatar Grand Prix after a dramatic collision with Mercedes team-mate George Russell at the very first corner of Sunday’s race.
Hamilton, who started third, drove around the outside of his team-mate, one place higher on the grid, and pole-sitter Max Verstappen before making contact with Russell’s machine.
Hamilton was sent into the gravel with the right-rear of his Mercedes flying off in the accident.
Both Hamilton and Russell pointed the finger at one another.
“Come on, what the hell,” yelled Russell. “That is two races in a row.”
Russell was sent spinning round in the incident before limping back to the pits for repairs.
But Hamilton’s race was over. “Yeah, I got taken out by team-mate,” said Hamilton, 38.
Russell was back on the radio. “Sorry guys, I wasn’t even looking,” he added amid a flurry of expletives. “I was focused ahead and he came from nowhere.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is absent from this race – his second in a row – as he recovers from knee surgery.
But the Austrian came on the intercom in a move to calm Russell, 25, down.
“George, let’s race now, and get the best out of it,” he said.
Forty minutes after the accident, Hamilton, 38, accepted blame for the coming together.
“In the heat of the moment, it was frustrating because I felt this tap from the rear but I don’t think George had anywhere to go,” he said.
“It was an unfortunate scenario and I am happy to take responsibility because that is my role. I need to go back and look at it, but I don’t feel like it was George’s fault.
“It was not our plan to come together. It is just really gutting for the team. I feel just really sad for everybody for my part in it.”
Hamilton insisted his partnership with Russell had not been damaged by the collision. Mercedes announced at the end of August that Hamilton and Russell will continue alongside each other until at least the end of 2025.
He continued: “The relationship is not broken. I don’t have any problems with George. We have a great relationship and we always talk about things.
“This is just unfortunate and I am sure he was frustrated in the moment, as I was, but we will talk about it offline and move forwards. My apologies to all the team.”