Lewis Hamilton admits he found the booing of Nico Rosberg on Monza podium 'awkward'
German heckled for successive race weekends after finishing second
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 09/09/14 11:49am
Despite little indication of a rapprochement between the two Mercedes rivals, Lewis Hamilton has admitted he felt uncomfortable on the Monza podium when Nico Rosberg was booed.
For the second race weekend in succession, the World Championship leader was loudly heckled when he collected his second-place trophy after Sunday’s Italian GP.
Rosberg’s collision with Hamilton at Spa, the catalyst of the fans’ unhappiness, continues to cast a dark shadow over the title fight, with the Mercedes friends-turned-foes neglecting to acknowledge each other after the race and Rosberg only speaking in Italian to Williams’ Felipe Massa ahead of a turbulent podium ceremony.
The contrast between the response Hamilton and Massa received when they addressed the mass of red below them, and the boos which greeted Rosberg, couldn't have been starker - or louder. But despite drawing strength from the support he has received in the wake of his Spa misfortune, Hamilton has called on the fans to cease heckling his rival.
“I’ve had it here, years and years ago, and it’s great personally for me to have such great support, from the Ferrari fans and the Mercedes fans, but when I was up there it was awkward for me to hear them booing Nico because l just don’t like that in sport,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1. “Away from the pitch and once we come away from the race, we should be nice to everyone.”
Asked about the booing in the post-race press conference, Rosberg, who has replaced Sebastian Vettel, a regular target of the boo-boys in 2013, as the pantomime villain of F1, replied: “It's obviously not nice but what can I say? I hope that with time they forgive and forget. That would be great. I have apologised, I can't really do anything more than that.”
In the wake of Rosberg being heckled at Spa, Jenson Button confessed that he would be “devastated” if he was subject to similar treatment, and Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has also voiced his concern about the psychological impact being absorbed by Rosberg. Both on and off the track, the German appeared out of sorts all weekend at Monza.
“There should be any booing on a podium. These are the top three guys who have had a mega race and whoever it is, they shouldn’t be booing. It’s a sport; sport should unite,” Wolff told reporters.
“But then all those guys are fans and some of them are pretty emotional. Does that take a toll on you? I think you have to be pretty tough. I don’t even want to think about it, being booed. Maybe it’s something you need to survive to make it to the top.”
Even after his defeat to Hamilton on Sunday, Rosberg continues to boast the consolation of topping the standings. Hamilton could win the next five races and Rosberg would still be crowned champion with victory in the final race, the ‘Abu Double cup final’.
“It wasn’t a disaster for me, it was seven points [lost to Hamilton], it could have been a lot worse,” he told Sky Sports F1. “There are still six races to go, I’m focused on consistency but at the moment I am trying to race for wins.”