Monday 25 September 2017

Lewis Hamilton: Mercedes have had to be 'extra warm' to Nico Rosberg since US Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg (R) celebrates his victory with teammate Lewis Hamilton on the podium after winning the Formula 1 Grand Prix race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City
Nico Rosberg (R) celebrates his victory with teammate Lewis Hamilton on the podium after winning the Formula 1 Grand Prix race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City

Phillip Duncan

Lewis Hamilton has claimed his Mercedes team have "felt the need to be extra warm" to Nico Rosberg following the fall-out from last week's United States Grand Prix.

Rosberg, who secured his first victory in nearly five months in Sunday's Mexican Grand Prix, was furious with Hamilton at the previous race after the pair banged wheels on the opening lap.

Rosberg accused Hamilton of aggressive driving in Austin, but it was ultimately the German's late mistake which gift-wrapped the championship to his team-mate.

On Formula One's first visit to Mexico in 23 years on Sunday, pole-sitter Rosberg led until his team opted to bring him in for a precautionary second pit stop.

Hamilton was urged by the pit wall to follow suit, but he initially defied the order and said he would be able to get to the end of the race on his current set of tyres.

Hamilton's engineer Peter Bonnington then issued a team instruction for the triple world champion to stop with 23 laps remaining.

Naturally sceptics speculated that Mercedes orchestrated the victory for Rosberg as payback for his coming together with Hamilton in Austin.

When the theory was put to Hamilton he replied: "No. I never think those kind of things, but I know the team has felt the need to be extra warm [to Nico],"

Asked to elaborate, the 30-year-old said: "I do know what I mean but I'm not going to say what I mean. You should ask Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda. You should put those questions to them about how they feel about it, and what they have to do behind the scenes to keep him happy."

On his decision to defy the team order to pit, Hamilton added: "They said they wanted to do a one-stop, and the tyres were good, and they had the life to do the whole distance.

"But we did have a pit window to the other cars so we could do a free stop.

"In one respect, it's smart to do, but on the other side of things, I had nothing to lose. I was racing and that's why I was considering staying out.

"But when the team say it's an order, it's an order, you do what they ask. But it wasn't fun."

Hamilton's relationship with Rosberg appears to be at an all-time low after two years battling for motor racing's biggest prize. Hamilton claimed Rosberg has not congratulated him on winning a third title while there was a frosty handshake after Sunday's race.

Hamilton also delivered a jibe at his team-mate in the post-race press conference when he said: "Nico drove well. No mistakes. No gust of wind."

His final remark was in response to Rosberg's flaky explanation for his error in Austin.

For the German, Sunday's victory marked his first since the Austrian Grand Prix in June.

"It is awesome to win here," he said. "That was my target, there was no P2 in the championship or getting one back on Lewis - none of that."

Rosberg, who launched a cap at Hamilton in Austin, added: "I am not going to comment on our relationship. You can see how it is from the outside."

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