Wolff insists Hamilton didn't try to back Rosberg into Ricciardo

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Wolff insists Hamilton didn't try to back Rosberg into Ricciardo
Jonathan Noble
By: Jonathan Noble
Jul 25, 2016, 9:49 AM

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff insists Lewis Hamilton did not try to back teammate Nico Rosberg into Daniel Ricciardo at the Hungaroring, despite his sudden mid-race increase in speed when warned of a potential strategy change.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Race winner Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates with team mate Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 and the team
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid passes a teady bear

Hamilton led the Hungarian Grand Prix from the first corner and appeared to be struggling for pace in the middle phase of the race as Ricciardo closed in on him.

But despite initially being unable to respond to encouragement over the radio to increase his pace, Hamilton suddenly found a fresh burst of speed when it was suggested to him that second placed Rosberg could be put on a better strategy.

That prompted theories that Hamilton had deliberately slowed things up to try to put Rosberg under pressure from Red Bull, but Wolff insists that was not the case.

"I am sure he [Hamilton] didn't want to back him up," explained Wolff. "The whole weekend we were discussing with them that they need to be cautious on the tyres.

"We weren't sure if it was a two stop or a three stop, and if you hear a constant messaging that your tyres might not last, then you want to manage them.

"They managed it very well on the first stint on the supersoft, and then moved over to the softs and we didn't have any experience on those tyres. So he over-managed it probably.

"He had everything under control. He knew that Nico was behind him and didn't realise that the train was approaching fast, and there was a different strategy behind him. So he didn't have the complete picture and for him it looked okay. That is why he just took it easy."

Wolff believes that radio messages that were broadcast also painted the wrong picture, as they hinted that Hamilton was struggling for pace rather than simply trying to manage his tyre life.

"His tyres needed to go a long way, and what he said was that he was driving to the best of his abilities," he said. "That does not mean that he was driving as fast as he could. And we needed to make it clear to him that we were running into a problem.

"You must not forget, you are sitting in the car out there, you are managing the pace, and you don't see what is panning out around you. You just need to trust the people.

"And I guess that particular moment we needed to make the message come across and this is what we did. The seriousness of the message was that we were going to reverse the cars like we did in Monaco.

"[So we told him] if you don't pick up the pace, we might pit Nico earlier. And that message was what he needed to understand that the pace needed to be picked up."

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