Mercedes chief Paddy Lowe admits that it was “nailbiting” to watch the closing stages of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, as Lewis Hamilton attempted to back up teammate Nico Rosberg in the F1 title decider.
Lowe said that there was “inevitable conflicts” due to scenario that the drivers found themselves in, with Hamilton needing to win with Rosberg in fourth to claim his fourth title.
With Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari coming through, Lowe ordered Hamilton to raise his pace, but Hamilton clearly defied this, stating at one point: “I'm not bothered if I win or lose this race.”
“This is what makes Formula 1 exciting in a way, we are constructed to have inevitable conflicts between what a team wants and what two individual drivers want,” said Lowe. “They are two guys who are team players but in the end they each wanna win.
“Our main objective is to win the race and we didn’t like the look of a red car coming though at a far higher pace than our team.”
On the specifics of whether Hamilton defied the team’s direct instructions, Lowe replied: “I don’t wanna comment too much on the subject, because we weren’t driving the car.
“Who knows what the real pace is of a car when you’re not driving it. It did present some challenges. In the end, Lewis and Nico are out there racing.
“It was nailbiting stuff on the pitwall, those final two laps – would Vettel get through Nico or even Lewis? We don’t often see four cars crossing the line within what felt like a second and half."
Lowe then paid tribute to Rosberg’s achievement, which emulates his father’s world championship success 34 years ago.
“I’m very, very happy for Nico because he has 23 wins, by a long way the most number of a driver who’s not won the championship,” said Lowe. “It’s just great he’s put himself into that rare and special category.
“For me, it’s not just about winning races, it’s sustaining that energy, commitment and nerve throughout a season, and nothing is more pointy than this race here. It all came down to a showdown, do you hold your nerve at that point? And he did it today. That’s the mark of a real world champion.”