Motor racing: Rosberg slams brakes on debate over Hamilton's tactics

Mercedes' Formula One driver Nico Rosberg (left) of Germany shaking hands with Lewis Hamilton of Britain.
Mercedes' Formula One driver Nico Rosberg (left) of Germany shaking hands with Lewis Hamilton of Britain. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Nico Rosberg says it is time to "drop the whole discussion" about Lewis Hamilton's tactics in the Formula One season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and insists he respects his Mercedes team-mate.

Rosberg crossed the line in second place at the Yas Marina circuit on Sunday to finish five points clear of Hamilton in the season's standings, securing his first F1 world title.

Mercedes chief Toto Wolff indicated the team could open disciplinary proceedings against Hamilton after he ignored team orders to pick up the pace during the closing stages of the race.

Hamilton was determined to try everything in an effort to take the title from his team-mate, who only needed a top-three finish, and backed Rosberg into the clutches of the chasing pack.

However, whatever the Mercedes hierarchy makes of the incident, Rosberg believes it should be left in the past.

He said: "In terms of his tactics in the last race, you can understand the team's perspective that they weren't too happy with that. At the same time, it's easy to understand his perspective.

HAMILTON'S DRIVING FORCE

It's about the world championship so you can understand that he wanted to try whatever it was possible to do.

NICO ROSBERG, the F1 world champion, defending team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

"It's about the world championship, so you can understand that he wanted to try whatever it was possible to do. He did a really good job of it, he did it perfectly because I had no chance to try to overtake him."

Asked if he would have done the same in Hamilton's position, Rosberg told BBC Radio 5 Live: "That's too hypothetical, so there's no point in going into that. We can just drop the whole discussion. There's no point discussing this topic anymore. It's done and it's in the past."

The rivalry between the team-mates defined the season, with Hamilton winning 10 races and Rosberg nine.

Their relationship was put to the test, and Rosberg says he remains respectful of Hamilton, having been close to the British driver since they were teenagers.

"Lewis is an amazing driver, he's one of the best of all-time," the German said. "It's always tough to beat him. We have the basic respect because we were really good friends back in the days.

"That's always remained, that respect, so that helps even though it's difficult because we're within the same team fighting each other. It's a very intense environment and not easy."

Wolff said yesterday that he is still pondering how to deal with Hamilton's driving tactics.

"I have not made up my mind. I can understand why he drove the way he drove, it was his instinct," Wolff said. "He needed to do it. Our system has made them win many races, but has also created that air of dominance... Let's discuss at a later stage."

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2016, with the headline 'Rosberg slams brakes on debate over Hamilton's tactics'. Print Edition | Subscribe