Hamilton angered by team instructions

28/07/2014
NEWS STORY

Lewis Hamilton has expressed his anger at being asked to allow teammate Nico Rosberg to pass him during the Hungarian Grand Prix.

With the Briton starting from the pitlane as a result of having to use a new chassis following a fuel leak fire in the opening stages of Saturday's qualifying session, and teammate Rosberg starting from pole, both drivers were on different strategies. The situation was further complicated by the weather conditions which in turn led to two Safety Car periods.

With Rosberg's strategy demanding one pit stop more than his teammate, as the German closed in Hamilton was told not to hold him up. The same instruction was given shortly after as the two continued to lap a second or so apart.

"I'll let him through if he gets closer, I'm not slowing down for Nico, get close and then he can overtake me," said Hamilton.

Shortly after, Rosberg asked: "Why is he not letting me through?" to which he was told "He's had the message."

Fact is, despite being on the softer, quicker rubber, Rosberg was never really close enough to allow Hamilton to simply let him through without slowing and losing time, thereby compromising his own race. Eventually the German pitted and, ironically, the two were left to battle for third on the final lap of the race, the mood hardly helped when the Briton, using all the track, and then some, forced Rosberg wide in his efforts to hold on to third.

It was a remarkable drive by Hamilton, probably one of the finest of his illustrious career. However, post-race he was in no mood for plaudits, instead he openly criticised his team for ordering him to move aside for his teammate.

"Obviously I am aware that I was in the same race as him, just because he had one more stop than me doesn't mean I am not in same race," said Hamilton after the race. "If I let him pass, then he could pull away and come back at me later.

"I was very, very shocked that the team would ask me to do that," he added. "He didn't get close enough to overtake, I was not going to lift off and lose ground to Fernando or Daniel, so it was a bit strange."

"I would have lost points to Nico if I had let him past when they asked me, he would have beaten me," he said in a subsequent interview with Sky Sports F1. "So I'm not quite sure what the situation was there. I don't want to comment, I'll go and speak to everyone and give them the benefit of the doubt, I'm sure it was for the right reasons perhaps

"Ultimately I would have lost points so it definitely feels strange for me, but I'm grateful I made the right decision for myself," he added. "At the end of the day, I was racing for myself, I wasn't racing for him."

Whilst Rosberg took the diplomatic route and said the matter would be discussed with the team and not in front of the media, team boss Toto Wolff, who only 24-hours earlier had profusely apologised to Hamilton and his fans for the disaster that was qualifying, said the team will learn from what happened on Sunday.

"We will not have that situation again because we will try to learn," said the Austrian. "We cannot expect the drivers in the second half of the season to move over for their main competitor."

Wolff admitted that in terms of the team's liberal, and much appreciated, approach to team orders, the time may be coming for a re-think.

"We need to analyse how we ended up there and we need to again discuss the racing between the two," he said. "It is getting intense."

Meanwhile, three-time world champion and non-Executive Chairman of the German team, Niki Lauda fully supported Hamilton's actions.

"I feel it as a racer and I would have done exactly the same," he said. "He did nothing wrong. He was just defending his position. Nico was too far away.

"The team was under enormous stress because the race was a very difficult one, there is no question," he added. "The call was unnecessary but it was made. Lewis ignored it and finished third."

Check out our Sunday gallery, here.

Chris Balfe

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Published: 28/07/2014
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