After an eventful Chinese Grand Prix for the AMG Mercedes team, they have quickly attempted to downplay the headline making spat between drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton in the aftermath of the race.
After the race Nico Rosberg was critical of race winner and team mate Lewis Hamilton in the post-race press conference, believing Hamilton had been selfish and because of this compromised Rosberg's race in the first stint, as Sebastien Vettel lurked close behind him.
Rosberg stated "No. It’s just now interesting to hear from you, Lewis, that you were just thinking about yourself with the pace in front, and that was compromising my race. Driving slower than was maybe necessary at the beginning of stints meant that Sebastian was very close to me and that opened up the opportunity for Sebastian to try that early pitstop to try and jump me."
Hamilton immediately responded by stating "It’s not my job to look after Nico’s race. 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 any of the cars up. I just was focusing on myself. If Nico wanted to get by he could have tried but he didn’t."
Of course this sent the motorsport press into overdrive with talk of another dent in the relationship between the two drivers after their disagreements last year in Bahrain, Monaco, Hungry and subsequently Belgium. It seemed they have sorted everything out, although this new row has the potential to ruin the status quo the team has tried to maintain.
The team's top brass soon got involved in the dispute, with non-executive chairman and three time World Champion Niki Lauda responded by defending Hamilton. He gave his opinion to ESPNF1 "Sure, everyone drives selfish, I call them egocentric bastards. That is the only way to win and the only way to win the Championship, they are all the same. Nico is the same as Lewis and Lewis is the same to Nico if the sh*t hits the fan. I fully agree that's the way it is and therefore we race."
Toto Wolff also downplayed the drivers disagreement, telling reporters that "I think he didn't do it on purpose. We have cleared that now. There wasn't any intention from Lewis to slow Nico down in order to make him finish third or worse, 100 percent. He didn't know the gaps behind Nico, what he knew was that he had to take that tyre longer than we have ever run it the whole weekend. This is why he decided to slow down in the way he did."
Rosberg himself has also publicly downplayed his comments in the post-race press conference in a video blog. In response to a fan who asked why he didn't simply pass Hamilton rather than cry about it he said "You say that I was crying. OK, I respect your opinion, and I'll keep it in mind and I'll try to show respect when it's due going forward. And why didn't I attack Lewis? I also understand why you're asking that, and it may not be so easy to understand from outside, that's clear. But the reason is, I did try to attack him in the first stint, and it just didn't work. All I did was destroy my tyres."
He also added that any tension within the team had been eliminated soon after the race. He commented on this by saying "It was definitely intense after the race, but we had a very good sit down, a good discussion. There was a lot of constructive criticism, and now for everybody it's a thing of the past and we're moving on to Bahrain."
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