Lewis Hamilton denies 'backing up' Nico Rosberg at Chinese GP

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Chinese GP: Nico Rosberg criticises 'slow' Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton has rejected claims from Nico Rosberg that he tried to compromise his Mercedes team-mate during the Chinese Grand Prix.

The German felt race winner Hamilton was driving unnecessarily slowly, backing him up into the chasing Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel.

Rosberg said it was "frustrating" and put them under "unnecessary pressure".

Faultless Hamilton wins in China

Hamilton responded to the accusation he had done it on purpose by saying: "That's absolutely not the case."

He added: "I wasn't trying to back him up into Sebastian because ultimately we do need a one-two and that is a priority to the team. If he wanted to get close to overtake he could have done. I'm not really quite sure what his problem is.

"We came here to get one-two and we did. There shouldn't be too much aggro really."

But Rosberg, who finished second ahead of Vettel, said the two would discuss it with the team after the race.

"Of course we will have a discussion and we will see how it goes," Rosberg added.

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton was never threatened during the race and kept a steady gap between himself and Rosberg

It is the latest in a series of flash points that have tested the relationship between the two drivers, especially since the team became the sport's pace-setters at the start of last year, including a crash at last August's Belgian Grand Prix.

Rosberg's concern in Shanghai was that by bringing Vettel closer than he needed to be, it made Mercedes vulnerable to an attempt by Ferrari to either pass Rosberg by stopping first and benefitting from fresh tyres - called undercutting - or by forcing Rosberg to do a longer final stint than his tyres could cope with.

Vettel did make an earlier than scheduled final stop, but Mercedes were able to handle it.

Rosberg said: "It compromised my race massively at the time because the best possible race for Lewis was to back me off into Vettel so Vettel would try to undercut me and I would have to respond.

"It was very frustrating Lewis was taking it as easy on his tyres. Interestingly, he said he was just thinking about himself and that says it all.

"What upset me is we went through exactly that before the race."

Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff claimed the drivers had cleared the air in their post-race debrief.

"It was a good debrief because it was a positive debrief," said Wolff. "There wasn't any animosity.

"There wasn't any intention from Lewis to slow Nico down in order to make him finish third or worse, 100%.

"He didn't know the gaps behind Nico. What he knew was that he had to take that tyre longer than we had ever run it the whole weekend. This is why he decided to slow down in the way he did."

Chinese GP results

Top Stories