A fuming Nico Rosberg has accused Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton of deliberately driving slowly during today’s Chinese Grand Prix and compromising both his own and the team’s race.
Hamilton led home a Mercedes one-two in Shanghai on Sunday, having led Rosberg away from pole position and controlling the race at the front of the field.
During the first half of the race, Rosberg told Mercedes that he felt Hamilton was driving too slowly. This allowed Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari to remain within two seconds of the German driver, and he very nearly moved into second place after making his final stop one lap earlier than Rosberg.
Hamilton did have pace in reserve, posting the fastest lap of the race before making his final pit stop, and had been managing his tires throughout his stints.
However, Rosberg felt aggrieved after the race, claiming that Hamilton could have gone faster but opted not to so he could tactically back his teammate up into Vettel.
“It’s just now interesting to hear from you Lewis that you were just thinking about yourself with the pace in front,” Rosberg said.
“Unnecessarily, that was compromising my race because driving slower than was maybe necessary in 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 and jump me, and then I had to cover him.
“First of all, it was unnecessarily close to Sebastian as a result, and also it cost me a lot of race time as a result because I had to cover him and my tires died at the end of the race because my stint was so much longer.
“So I’m unhappy about that of course today. Other than that, not much to say.”
In response to Rosberg’s comments, Hamilton was bemused, claiming that he was ensuring he did not overwork his tires and lose himself more time towards the end of his stints.
“It’s not my job to look after Nico’s race,” Hamilton said, smirking. “My job is to manage the car and bring the car home as healthy and as fast as possible.
“And that’s what I did. I didn’t do anything intentionally to slow Nico down, I just focused on myself. If Nico wanted to get by, he could have tried, but he didn’t.”
Rosberg also expressed his frustration when speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton after the race, saying that he felt Hamilton’s actions needed to be discussed with the team.
Just as the sparring match at kicked off at Mercedes following last year’s Hungarian Grand Prix, the war of words is now beginning again in 2015, proving that there is no love lost between Hamilton and Rosberg over the winter.