Button: Hamilton will play mind games with Rosberg as he did with me

6 Comments

Jenson Button is confident that Nico Rosberg can get his head around the mind games that Lewis Hamilton will be playing at Mercedes, having also dealt with the Briton during their time together at McLaren.

Hamilton and Rosberg have dominated Formula 1 in 2014, winning five races between them and securing four one-two finishes. However, Hamilton appears to have rattled Rosberg after claiming four straight wins and the lead of the drivers’ championship.

After claiming his fourth victory in Spain, Hamilton claimed that he had been slower than Rosberg all weekend despite winning the race from pole position. In Button’s eyes, this is just part of the psychological battle that Hamilton is looking to enter.

“I am sure there will, if there aren’t already, be mind games going on,” Button told the Press Association. “There were a few things he played on me. It would work on some drivers, whereas others it just makes them stronger because they laugh it off.”

Button and Hamilton spent three years together at McLaren, and despite many predicting that Hamilton would wipe the floor with his teammate, it was in fact Button who had the edge during their time together.

However, Hamilton’s relationship with the team appeared to sour, and it also did with Button. On one occasion, he launched into a rant on Twitter when he thought that Button had unfollowed him, saying: “After three years as teammates, I thought we respected one another but clearly he doesn’t.”

It turned out that Button never followed him in the first place.

In 2014, though, Button is confident that Rosberg can deal with the mind games that Hamilton will be playing.

“Nico is intelligent to know if Lewis is playing mind games or not, which in some ways could help Nico or harm him,” the 2009 world champion said. “He might just end up getting fed up with it.

“But Lewis is full of confidence at the moment and he is a fierce competitor when he is like that, even when he is not having a good day.”

Rosberg will be gunning to re-gain the championship lead in Monaco next weekend, and after winning the race last year, it is unlikely he’ll be willing to let his crown go without a fight.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
Leave a comment

COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”