Last year’s bitter feud between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg that had been reduced to a gentle simmer over the winter, boiled into angry life ...
Last year’s bitter feud between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg that had been reduced to a gentle simmer over the winter, boiled into angry life again in the aftermath of Hamilton second win of the season in China.
During the pair’s second stint of the race, on the soft Pirelli tyres, Rosberg complained over the radio that Hamilton, in the lead, was running slowly and that it was causing Rosberg to drop into the clutches of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
Hamilton was told by his race engineer to up his pace and was given a target time of 1m 43.7s. The champion obliged but Vettel continued to press and eventually the Mercedes pit wall informed Hamilton that if he did not increase his pace, they would pit Rosberg first to take on a final set of medium tyres. That eventuality occurred as Hamilton ran his race his way.
Afterwards when Hamilton was asked whether he had been aware that his pace had put Rosberg into potential hot water, the champion responded “it isn’t my job to look after Nico’s race”.
“I wasn’t controlling his race, I was controlling my own race,” he said sharply. “My goal was to look after my car. I had no real threat from Nico through the whole race. So, I just managed it and got to really enjoy it, to be honest.”
Rosberg responded angrily to Hamilton’s admission, saying that it had been “unnecessarily close with Sebastian”.
“It’s interesting to hear from you, Lewis, that you were just thinking about yourself with the pace in front, and necessarily that was compromising my race,” he said. “Driving slower than was maybe necessary at the beginning of stints meant that Sebastian was very close to me and that opened up the opportunity for Sebastian to try that early pit stop to try and jump me. And then I had to cover him.
“So, first of all it was unnecessarily close with Sebastian as a result, and also it cost me a lot of race time as a result because I had to cover him and then my tyres died at the end of the race because my stint was just so much longer. So I’m unhappy about that, of course, today. Other than that, not much to say.”
Asked if he wanted to respond, Hamilton said that he hadn’t intentionally held up his team-mate.
“My job is not to… it’s not my job to look after Nico’s race. My job’s to manage the car and bring the car home as healthy and as fast as possible – and that’s what I did,” he said. “I didn’t do anything intentionally to slow any of the cars up. I just was focussing on myself. If Nico wanted to get by he could have tried but he didn’t.”After a winter of ceasefire and two opening rounds in which Rosberg has looked increasingly frustrated it seems that open warfare has once again resumed between the Mercedes drivers. It will be interesting to follow the fall-out from this latest explosion as Formula One heads to Bahrain, the scene of an epic duel between the team-mates last year.
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