Rosberg apologises to Hamilton over first corner battle

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Nico Rosberg says he did not have the intention to push Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton wide at the first corner of the Australian Grand Prix and apologises to the Briton for the incident.

Both drivers got off to a sluggish start in Melbourne, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel immediately overtaking them to lead the race.

Rosberg managed to sneak on the inside of pole sitter Hamilton but the ensuing squabble forced the reigning world champion on the astroturf and allowed Kimi Raikkonen to take the two Mercedes as well.

What’s more, Hamilton's front wing slightly tapped Rosberg at the back but the pair could continue at an unabated pace.

“The start was OK but I was on the dirty side of the grid so it was to be expected that the guys on the left were going to get away a bit better,” the German said. “It was very close with Sebastian. I tried to just go for it in turn one but Sebastian did a great job, he braked on the limit and so there was just no way to get into there on the inside so I had to back out.

“I just realised now when Lewis was mentioning it, so I will have to look at it and if I did push you out wide then I apologise of course, that was not the intention. I was of kind of on the edge myself as you could see.”

Rosberg and Hamilton have a bit of history when it comes to first corner scraps, though it is often the former that has been on the receiving end of his rival’s aggressiveness like in Suzuka and Austin last year.

Although the brush dropped him to sixth on the opening lap, Hamilton does not hold any grudge against Rosberg as he understands his team-mate had little room to manoeuvre.

“My [start] was quite eventful but fortunately I didn’t get any damage but obviously lost a lot of ground. Getting off I just fell to maybe third or fourth. I was on the outside of Nico and Nico was forced wide or something maybe and I was on the outside of him so a little bit on the astroturf and the grass so I lost a little bit of ground. Got overtaken by quite a few people and after that did something to try and fight my way back which was hard work but I enjoyed it.”

Rosberg eventually emerged from a chaotic race to win in Melbourne, while Hamilton managed to recover from his poor getaway to ensure another Mercedes 1-2 finish.

REPORT: Rosberg beats Hamilton after huge Alonso crash

AS IT HAPPENED: 2016 Australian Grand Prix 

2016 F1 season: Team-by-team preview

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