MERCEDES team boss Toto Wolff believes that both Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were justified in their reasoning behind the latest confrontation between the two drivers.
During last weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, Rosberg accused Hamilton of deliberately slowing his pace in an effort to back the German into Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to help secure his third win at the circuit.
During the podium interviews in Shanghai, Rosberg addressed Hamilton publically by saying, “you were just thinking about yourself with the pace in front, and necessarily that was compromising my race.”
“Driving slower than was maybe necessary at the beginning of stints meant that Sebastian was very close to me and that opened up the opportunity for Sebastian to try that early pitstop to try and jump me.”
“So I’m unhappy about that of course,” said Rosberg.
Hamilton defiantly retaliated post race by stating that he was controlling his own race and did not intentionally compromise Rosberg’s race, saying that “the one-two was the most important thing.”
The two Mercedes drivers, who battled toe-to-toe for the world championship in 2014, endured a fractious start to their relationship as team-mates. Wolff is keen to avoid an escalation of more tensions despite Rosberg’s public criticism of Hamilton.
Speaking with French publication L’Équipe post race, Wolff said, “both were right. Lewis had to look after his rubber because he had to make them last.”
“This action obviously affected Nico’s race. But Lewis didn’t do anything wrong,” Wolff said.
One of the principal reasons as to why Rosberg found himself frustrated behind Hamilton was his earlier than planned first pitstop. Wolff confirmed after that the team had wanted to prevent a repetition of the strategy that cost them victory in the Malaysian Grand Prix – where Hamilton and Rosberg were on the same strategy.
“I didn’t want to relive Malaysia. Nico covered Vettel. But things weren’t as bad as they certain believed so we came home with another one-two,” Wolff said.
Wolff added, “It was good for Lewis to drive slowly and good for Nico to complain. The debrief was very positive and there was no animosity.”