Lewis Hamilton accepted responsibility on Sunday for his opening corner collision with Mercedes team-mate George Russell that saw him crash out of the Qatar Grand Prix.
The seven-time world champion lost his rear right wheel when he hit the front wing of Russell’s car as he attempted to pass him on the outside.
Russell also spun but recovered and, after an immediate pit-stop for repairs, rejoined the race and finished fourth.
“I feel so sorry for my team,” said a crestfallen Hamilton. “The opportunity was there to for us to score a lot of good points.
“It was all in the heat of the moment. I mean… I didn’t really understand what happened. I just felt the tap from behind and I don’t think George probably had anywhere to go.
“It’s just one of those really unfortunate situations. I’m happy to take responsibility for it.
“Everyone is working so incredibly hard and so it’s just massively gutting to have a result like this. It’s very rare that this happens for me, but I hope George is able to get back into the points today.”
He later posted on X (formerly Twitter), confirming it was his fault.
“I’ve watched the replay and it was 100 percent my fault and I take full responsibility. Apologies to my team and to George,” he said.
Russell said he was disappointed because he felt that a podium finish was a realistic target for both Mercedes drivers before the race.
Hamilton was the only leading driver to start the race on soft tyres, giving him a grip advantage in the early stages of the race, as he sought to pass both Russell and pole-sitter Max Verstappen.
Verstappen, who clinched his third consecutive world title on Saturday, cruised to victory in the race.
Russell said: “I know it was nothing intentional. When you are racing in these cars, you can’t see because they have such big blind spots and it is very difficult. I am sure we’ll speak about it and it will be all ok.”
Hamilton was fined 50,000 euros ($52,758), half of which is suspended, and given a reprimand by the race stewards for walking across the track after the crash.
“During the hearing the driver of car 44 was very apologetic and realised that the situation could have been very dangerous for him as well as the drivers approaching,” the stewards said in a statement.
Hamilton has experienced only six opening-lap retirements in his 327 races.
With five races remaining, he lies third in the drivers’ title race on 194 points behind Verstappen on 433 and Red Bull’s second driver Sergio Perez, who finished 10th, on 225.
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