Spa (Belgium) (AFP) - World championship leader Nico Rosberg was condemned by his team and booed by spectators on Sunday after colliding with Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton on the way to taking second place behind victorious Australian Daniel Ricciardo in Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.
Team bosses Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff both laid the blame for the second-lap crash that left leader Hamilton with a race-wrecking puncture on Rosberg who appeared to drive into his teammate’s car.
"Completely unacceptable," said Wolff. "That was just an unacceptable race. It is unbelievable. You should not crash into your teammate. Lap number two of a long race and a crash between two teammates, we have often discussed the situation and it happened today.
"You don't try to overtake with the knife between your teeth in lap number two and damage both cars. This is a decisive moment in the battle between the two of them and for the team.
"Lewis is very upset, we kept him out there for a long time with a damaged car. He will recover quickly. It is going to be handled."
Mercedes team chief Niki Lauda added: "I have apologised to Lewis... A bad result for Lewis and a bad result for the Mercedes team.
"It's very simple. It is unacceptable that in the second lap Nico hit Lewis, completely unacceptable.
"There is going to be a meeting at 16.45, but it is unacceptable. If these things happen at the end of the race, when they are fighting for the win then you discuss it, but in the second lap to hand the victory to Red Bull.
"I thought they were clever enough to know that but obviously they aren't."
Rosberg was booed by fans when he stood on the podium alongside winner Ricciardo and third-placed Finn Valtteri Bottas of Williams.
Rosberg, who now leads Hamilton by 29 points in the title race with seven of this year’s 19 events remaining, said: "I got a good run on Lewis and tried to go round the outside and we just touched in the end, unfortunately, and it hurt both of our races, but that's just how it goes.
"I have not seen it yet so it wouldn't be good of me to comment on it, I will have a look at it and then speak about it. I was pretty confident we could get a one-two -- we had good race speed, but unfortunately it didn't work out for us today."
Ricciardo, of Red Bull, won with a bold and well-judged drive in a dramatic race that saw Hamilton lead from the start, but fall away and eventually retire after his second-lap puncture.
It was Red Bull's 50th win in Formula One and a beaming Ricciardo was hailed with cheers.
"Back home, there is a huge following for F1, but this is almost as many Aussie flags as there was in Melbourne!" said Ricciardo.
"So thanks so much. It is a bit different when you lead the race for that long, it's more about composure and trying to keep steady.
"Once Nico went in I knew he would be quick at the end so I had to keep my pace up to stay ahead of him. When you are leading the first thing is you hope everything holds together, mechanically you hope everything gets you to the finish line but certainly when you are in the lead the chequered flag can't come soon enough."
The damage wrecked Hamilton’s race and may have ruined his title bid with seven of this year’s 19 races remaining.
After struggling to regain his momentum, the 29-year-old Briton retired with four of the 44 laps remaining leaving Rosberg content to take his first podium finish in Belgium at the eighth attempt. He came 3.3 seconds behind Ricciardo.
It was Ricciardo's third win in six races in his first season with Red Bull since succeeding fellow Australian Mark Webber as teammate to four-time champion German Sebastian Vettel, who came home fifth.
Finns Valtteri Bottas of Williams and Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari came home third and fourth ahead of Vettel, Danish rookie Kevin Magnussen and his McLaren teammate Briton Jenson Button who were all engaged in a furious final tussle for positions.