Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg clash on Brazil GP strategy calls
"His tyres were destroyed" says Interlagos victor Rosberg; "Contrary to what Nico said, I was all over him," responds Hamilton
By Pete Gill and Mike Wise at Interlagos
Last Updated: 16/11/15 12:11pm
Lewis Hamilton is adamant he could have won the Brazilian GP with a different strategy despite Nico Rosberg arguing his team-mate 'finished' his tyres.
In the latest episode of their season-long rivalry, Rosberg led Hamilton over the line in Interlagos with over seven seconds to spare after the pair ran in close proximity throughout the grand prix.
While Hamilton, frustrated in his attempts to pass his team-mate around the notoriously narrow Interlagos track, was heard to repeatedly ask his Mercedes team to change his strategy, Rosberg insisted he had the race under control throughout and implied it was a miscalculation by the world champion which led the team to switch from their two-stop plan.
"It was a good battle with Lewis and I had the upper hand which was great. I finished with a good gap, six or seven seconds, so I was comfortable," Rosberg told Sky Sports F1.
In an apparent indication that he possessed the superior race pace, Hamilton closed to within a second of Rosberg's Mercedes for a series of laps midway through the grand prix. But adamant that he had the race under control, a bemused-sounding Rosberg claimed Hamilton had naively pushed his tyres over the limit.
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"Lewis pushed too hard in the second stint and completely destroyed his tyres," Rosberg told Sky Sports News HQ. "We were on for a two-stop at that point and there was no way he was going to get anywhere near a two-stop pushing like that. That is why the team then switched us to a three-stop."
Hamilton, inevitably, saw matters rather differently when Rosberg declared the size of his winning margin was irrefutable proof that he had a firm grip on the race throughout.
"Contrary to what Nico was saying there was one point when I was all over him, but I just couldn't get by," the world champion responded. "I just couldn't get close enough in that last sector and I did have the fastest lap, so obviously I had the pace today."
Equally inevitably, Rosberg, sitting alongside Hamilton in the post-race press conference, wasn't prepared to let his friend-turned-foe have the last word.
"In advance you can only go by what you think the computer tells you, which strategy is best and it wouldn't really be fair for the guy who is running second to go for the other strategy and then for it to turn out it was the massively the quicker strategy in hindsight," he said.
All of which left the Mercedes hierarchy forced, as so often during the last two seasons, to pick a delicate diplomatic path between their two squabbling drivers.
"We were pushed on to a three-stop by Ferrari," said technical chief Paddy Lowe. "We couldn't just do that for Lewis and not Nico because that wouldn't be right."
"If you start splitting strategy then the controversy in the team becomes very bad," concurred Silver Arrows chief Toto Wolff.
Damned if they do, damned if they didn't, Wolff and Lowe could be forgiven for wondering if they can ever win - even on a day when their team claimed their 11th one-two of the season.
Don't miss the F1 Midweek Report for analysis of the Brazilian GP and all the latest F1 news. NBC's F1 reporter Will Buxton and journalist Peter Windsor join Natalie Pinkham on Sky Sports F1 at 8:30pm on Wednesday.