SPIELBERG, Austria (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton was booed on the podium after a last-lap collision with Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg handed the triple Formula One world champion a dramatic first Austrian Grand Prix victory on Sunday.
Championship leader Rosberg, who had been chasing an Austrian hat-trick after wins in 2014 and 2015, nursed his damaged car over the line for fourth place with his advantage cut to 11 points.
“I am gutted, it’s unbelievable,” said the German, accusing Hamilton of turning in and causing the accident that broke his front wing as the slow-burning race suddenly exploded into controversy and acrimony.
Hamilton disagreed — and so did the stewards who gave Rosberg a meaningless post-race 10-second time penalty for causing the collision and a reprimand for continuing with a damaged car.
“I was on the outside, it wasn’t me that had the crash,” said the Briton, who now has three wins to Rosberg’s five this season, over the team radio.
After nine of the season’s 21 races, Rosberg has 153 points to Hamilton’s 142.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff described the collision as “brainless”, without singling out either of his drivers for blame, and told reporters he might have to consider imposing so-called ‘team orders’ in future.
“I’m fed up with trying to analyze it,” he told reporters after the latest in a series of clashes between the drivers in a championship they dominate.
“I just don’t want any contact (between them) any more. Collisions between team mates is a no-go for everyone.”
The team revealed Rosberg had suffered a problem with his brake-by-wire system which went into “passive mode” at the end of the penultimate lap while Hamilton closed in on fresher tyres.
The crowd, small in comparison to the previous two years with rows of empty seats in the grandstands, made their disapproval evident with whistles and boos as Hamilton was interviewed on the podium.
“That’s not my problem, it’s their problem,” the surprised Briton, who started on pole, shrugged when asked about the noise.
“I left a lot of room on the inside and I guess he locked up and crashed into me. I think he had a problem with his brakes potentially. I’m here to win. That’s all.”
Dutch teenager Max Verstappen finished second for Red Bull at their home track with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen third after team mate Sebastian Vettel crashed out on his 29th birthday when a rear tyre exploded and sent him into the barriers.
“Obviously the idea was to go on as long as possible with that set of tyres and to shape our race on that idea, but I don’t think it was an aggressive strategy,” the German said of an accident that brought out the safety car.
Hamilton’s victory was the 250th in Formula One by a British driver since the championship started in 1950 and the 46th of his career, setting him up perfectly for his home race at Silverstone next week.
He had led from the off while Rosberg, who had started sixth after collecting a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change following a practice crash, reeled off a series of impressively quick laps.
The German jumped ahead of Hamilton when the Briton pitted on lap 21 of 71 and came out behind his team mate with the two separated by less than two seconds before their second pitstops and a final chase to the line.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo was fifth for Red Bull with Britain’s Jenson Button finishing sixth for McLaren after running in second place for the opening laps.
Frenchman Romain Grosjean was seventh in a Haas ahead of Spaniard Carlos Sainz in a Toro Rosso and Finland’s Valtteri Bottas for Williams, who had Felipe Massa start in the pitlane and then retire.
German rookie Pascal Wehrlein scored his first point in Formula One, and his Manor team’s first of the season, with a remarkable 10th.
Editing by Ed Osmond and Clare Fallon