Champ cornered over 'aggression'

British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrating after sealing his third world championship with victory in the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas on Sunday. Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel (right) and Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg applaud, b
British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrating after sealing his third world championship with victory in the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas on Sunday. Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel (right) and Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg applaud, but the steely expression on Rosberg's face speaks volumes.PHOTO: REUTERS
Hamilton (left) making contact with Rosberg at Turn 1, with the German being pushed wide. Hamilton later insisted he was not aggressive.
Hamilton (left) making contact with Rosberg at Turn 1, with the German being pushed wide. Hamilton later insisted he was not aggressive.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE- PRESSE

Hamilton seals world title but Mercedes need to resolve fresh spat between him and Rosberg

AUSTIN (Texas) • Mercedes are set to hold talks with Lewis Hamilton about his incident with Nico Rosberg on the first corner in Sunday's United States Grand Prix.

Hamilton, who sealed his third Formula One world title after a thrilling race in Austin, was accused of going "one step too far" and "extremely aggressive" driving by his German team-mate after their slight coming together at Turn 1 on the opening lap.

The Briton emerged in the lead following the incident - which evoked memories of their collision in Belgium last year - while Rosberg, forced on to the run-off area, dropped to fifth.

  • UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX

  • RESULTS

    1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr)

    Mercedes 1hr 50min 52.703sec

    2 Nico Rosberg (Ger)

    Mercedes +2.850sec

    3 Sebastian Vettel (Ger)

    Ferrari +3.381

    4 Max Verstappen (Ned)

    Toro Rosso +22.359

    5 Sergio Perez (Mex)

    Force India +24.413

    6 Jenson Button (Gbr)

    McLaren +28.058

    7 Carlos Sainz Jr (Esp)

    Toro Rosso +30.619

    8 Pastor Maldonado (Ven)

    Lotus +32.273

    9 Felipe Nasr (Bra)

    Sauber +40.257

    10 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus)

    Red Bull +53.371

  • STANDINGS

    Drivers

    1 Hamilton 327 (Champion)

    2 Vettel 251

    3 Rosberg 247

    4 Raikkonen 123

    5 Bottas 111

  • Constructors

    1 Mercedes 574 (Champions)

    2 Ferrari 374

    3 Williams 220

    4 Red Bull 150

    5 Force India 102

    REUTERS

Rosberg fought back to re-take the lead and it was his unforced error with only seven laps remaining which ultimately gift-wrapped the championship for Hamilton.

But the German was angry with Hamilton's actions at Turn 1 and threw a cap back at his team-mate in the green room before Sunday's podium celebrations.

Mercedes director Toto Wolff, who seemed to side with Rosberg, will seek a prompt resolution to avoid a repeat of the fall-out from last season's collision at Spa.

"It's never easy for things to cool down," said Wolff. "It wasn't easy the first time around, but we have some experience. I think Nico has reason to be upset for that particular incident. It was too hard and we need to pick it up and discuss it.

"Nico made that one mistake that cost him the race win. So I think it is important that we sit down in a couple of days and discuss it - because we don't want it to escalate into something bigger.

"I don't want to take anything away from Lewis, as he deserves the title. But obviously we need to talk about it at a certain stage."

Hamilton and Rosberg, rivals since their karting days, live in the same Monaco apartment complex, but had a frosty relationship last season when the championship battle went down to the wire.

This year, Hamilton has been far more dominant - winning 10 races to Rosberg's three so far.

However, Hamilton, who became the first British driver to retain his Formula One crown with the third title of his career, insisted he did nothing wrong.

"There are always those kind of comments that come afterwards but I would never do something like that intentionally to my team-mate," he said after joining his idol Ayrton Senna and Britain's Jackie Stewart with a hat-trick of Formula One titles.

Explaining the collision of wheels, Hamilton added: "The outside is always the grippier side, so Nico had the grippier line, but I was ahead so it was my line. We went in, I started to turn but I just under-steered into him. We touched but I don't feel like I was aggressive.

"Everyone has the right to their own opinion but it doesn't matter because I won the race so I feel pretty good about it."

An emotional Hamilton, whose career has taken him from a council estate in Stevenage to the pantheon of motor racing, hailed his victory as an inspiration for youngsters. In the immediate aftermath of victory, he told his team it was "the greatest moment of my life".

"It's crazy to think I'm a three-time champion," Hamilton said. "I owe it all to my family and my dad, who sacrificed so much for me to be here.

"This is a platform for me to inspire young people and I hope if there's any inspiration from this, it is never to give up on your dreams, hopes and desire. There were so many times I thought I had lost this race, but I never for one second believed that I couldn't do it."

THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 27, 2015, with the headline 'Champ cornered over 'aggression''. Print Edition | Subscribe