Nico Rosberg: Hamilton and I don't focus on each other too much
German hits back after admitting he went for harder tyre as team-mate was on it
By James Galloway at the Hungaroring
Last Updated: 28/07/15 12:47pm
Nico Rosberg insists he and team-mate Lewis Hamilton are not guilty of focusing too much on each other in races after Mercedes experienced a forgettable Hungarian GP.
Following a record-equalling nine consecutive double podiums for the world champions at the start of this season, Hamilton and Rosberg finished in surprisingly lowly sixth and eighth positions on Sunday after incident-filled afternoons.
Both title contenders were forced to pit for repairs after collisions with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo at Turn One in the chaotic closing stages of the race, meaning they lost the chance to challenge Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel for the victory – the German now 42 points off the championship summit.
But asked if the Mercedes pair had become too preoccupied with each other following 18 months of Mercedes domination, Rosberg replied: "I don’t think there is a danger, no.
"We are always aware of our opponents but naturally we are both fighting for the race win going into it [in Hungary]. So, yes, the focus is a bit on Lewis.
"But no there’s not a danger because our car is still awesome.”"
Before the Safety Car had bunched the field back up to give Mercedes a second shot at beating Ferrari, Rosberg had been steadily falling back from the lead – and into the clutches of the recovering Hamilton – having taken on the slower medium tyres for the middle stint.
On the flip side, the strategies had the potential to reverse for the final stint with his leading rivals obliged to take the medium compound, whereas Rosberg could return to the faster softs.
However, against all usual convention, Rosberg called for his race engineer to keep him on the slower mediums at his final stop. Asked to explain his thinking afterwards, the German said he was focused on covering off Hamilton given he felt the win at that stage was beyond him.
"I was keen to hold my position because Ferrari were too quick. So that was the thinking. And I got the message that he [Hamilton] would stop earlier than me, but it’s difficult to judge it in that situation," Rosberg said.
"So we need to review it, but I just wanted to make sure that I finished third at that point in time because that’s the best I could hope for in this race."
Whereas at one stage of the race it looked as though Rosberg was on course to take the lead of the championship for the first time this season, he now heads into the month-long summer break an increased 21 points back on Hamilton.
Team boss Toto Wolff said Mercedes had to take collective responsibility for their unusually poor race.
"We had so many incidents where if you would now try to find out who was at fault in any of them [it would be difficult]. Everybody is probably responsible for the performance we had today," the Austrian stressed.
"Nico struggled with the option tyre at the beginning, there was no pace in the car. You could see that Lewis’s pace was very good in midfield. Overall, not a good day."
Don’t miss the F1 Midweek Report for all the analysis of the Hungarian GP. Reuters F1 correspondent Alan Baldwin and The Daily Telegraph’s Daniel Johnson join Natalie Pinkham in the studio. Catch it at 8:30pm on Wednesday July 29 on Sky Sports F1.