Tense times for Mercedes pair

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg celebrating after winning the Singapore night race, with his dejected-looking team-mate and title rival Lewis Hamilton third and Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo second.
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg celebrating after winning the Singapore night race, with his dejected-looking team-mate and title rival Lewis Hamilton third and Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo second.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Uneasy silence in podium room after races, says upbeat Ricciardo who tips Rosberg for title success

LONDON • Australian Daniel Ricciardo has spoken of the awkward pre-podium silence between Mercedes team-mates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, while tipping the latter for this season's Formula One title.

The smiling Red Bull driver finished second in Singapore last weekend, with Rosberg winning and three-time champion Hamilton third.

The result sent Rosberg back on top in the championship, the German now eight points clear of Hamilton with six rounds remaining.

"When Lewis made up that deficit to Nico and came back, it was like, 'Okay, nobody's going to touch Lewis,' " he told Sky Sports television during a trip to Australia ahead of next week's Malaysian race.

"Nico's come back... I'm going to throw a spanner in the works and say Rosberg," he added when asked to pick one of the pair for the title.

Rosberg has won eight races to Hamilton's six this year, including the three since the August break just when it looked like the Briton had the momentum.

TOO QUIET FOR AFFABLE AUSSIE

I don't like silence too much, so I'm like trying to either talk to myself or make conversation with them but they are just happy enjoying the awkward silence. It's quite fun.

DANIEL RICCIARDO, who has shared the podium in Hungary, Belgium and Singapore with the Mercedes duo.

"The best part is if you get on the podium with them two... in the room before we go out on the podium just after the race, you take the helmet off and it's awkward for me because it's just so silent," said Ricciardo.

"I don't like silence too much, so I'm like trying to either talk to myself or make conversation with them but they are just happy enjoying the awkward silence. It's quite fun."

Hamilton and Rosberg have battled for the title for the last three years, their relationship going through the occasional frosty patch, and this season the competition is tighter than ever between the two.

When Hamilton won his third F1 title in Texas last year, he tossed a cap to Rosberg while they waited in the podium room and had it slung straight back by the unhappy German.

Rosberg later described the incident as "just our typical games". Before the Singapore Grand Prix last weekend, he had also described their rivalry as "intense" but said that they had mutual respect for each other.

The pair have been on the podium together eight times in 15 races this year. Ricciardo has joined them three times.

Off the track, Formula One is facing a major shake-up after US cable TV mogul John Malone's Liberty Media agreed to take control of the cash-generating glamour sport.

Gaming and gambling are among potential growth areas for Formula One as the sport's new owners seek to develop largely untapped digital markets, Liberty Media chief executive Greg Maffei said on Thursday.

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia investment conference in New York, he said he also saw revenues growing through an increasing switch from free-to-air to pay television, more sponsorship deals and more races.

"Less than 1 per cent of revenues are from digital," Maffei said.

"They really have no organised digital effort. I think there's a lot of things that can be done around gaming, VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality).

"There's an enormous amount of video feed and data about the races that we are already capturing that we are not in any way processing incrementally for the dedicated fan, or opportunities around things like gambling.

"Outside of the United States there is a huge gambling opportunity in the sport, none of which we capitalise on."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2016, with the headline 'Tense times for Mercedes pair'. Print Edition | Subscribe