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No animosity in post-China debrief, claims Wolff

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No animosity in post-China debrief, claims Wolff
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Apr 12, 2015, 9:25 AM

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has moved quickly to defuse intra-team tension after Nico Rosberg accused Lewis Hamilton of by backing him into Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the Chinese Grand Prix.

Podium: race winner Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1, second place Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1, third place Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
Race winner Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W06
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W06
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W06
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W06
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W06 leads at the start of the race
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W06
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 on the grid
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W06 leads team mate Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W06

Wolff said that after the matter was discussed in a team meeting, the drivers understood the situation more clearly.

“It was a good debrief, because it was a positive debrief,” said Wolff. “There wasn't any animosity. It is much more positive today.

“We didn't do any mistake in the race. Everybody was in good spirits.”

How Hamilton controlled race

Wolff insisted the main issue was that Hamilton wasn't sure how the option (soft) tyres would play out over the second stint, and thus in effect kept something in reserve.

The team had planned to put the prime (medium) on at the first stop, but the strategy was changed.

“Lewis was the car in the lead, he was controlling the pace. We were putting the option tyre on, although we were actually expecting to put the prime on, so our expected race would have been option-prime-prime.

“Also because we learned the lesson from Malaysia, we thought we might run into trouble with the option. And then we found out that our option was actually holding on much better than we expected, and much better than Ferrari.

“We tried to make sure that we could cover Ferrari with the option. We put the option on, the driver realises he has the option in, doesn't know what's going on behind him, and controls his pace, because he needs to take the option longer than expected.

“And he was controlling that pace. From his point of view, completely understandable.”

Rosberg's side of the story

Wolff added: “Nico on the other side was really running into trouble, because he was bunched up behind Lewis, he couldn't go any more near, so he asked for a 2secs gap to Lewis so he could at least protect the tyres a little bit, which he did.

“And on the same time Sebastian was increasing the pace behind him. So understandable from both of them.”

Hamilton did 'nothing on purpose'

Wolff was adamant that Lewis had not tried to handicap his teammate.

“I think he didn't do it on purpose, and we've cleared that now,” he said. “There wasn't any intention from Lewis to slow Nico down in order to make him finish third or worse, one hundred per cent.

“He didn't know the gaps behind Nico. What he knew was that he needed to take the tyre longer than we've ever run it the whole weekend, and this is why he decided to slow down in the way he did.

“Now after a while we realised after a while that this was putting us into trouble, putting Nico into trouble, risking the second place – or even worse, if Lewis has a DNF you could potentially lose the race as Mercedes, so there were lots of thoughts on the pit wall about the possible consequences.

“And he didn't know that. So I think you can't really blame anybody.”

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