Monday, 2 November 2015

How Hamilton and Rosberg will move on from latest spat, by Luke Rees

The 2015 US Grand Prix will rightly be remembered for the crowning of Lewis Hamilton as the F1 World Champion, though it was partly overshadowed by the public spat between Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. However, following the Mexican GP, it appears that the conflict may have moved from a confrontation between Hamilton and Rosberg to mistrust between Hamilton and the Mercedes team.

The tension between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg
after the Austin race was palpable
Photo: Octane Photography
Rosberg started the US Grand Prix in pole position, but was nudged out of the way by Hamilton at the first corner, in a manoeuvre that would have surely raised official complaints had it happened between drivers of opposing teams. Rosberg managed to regain the lead, only to lose control in the slippery conditions of the race with less than ten laps to go, which left Hamilton open to claim the title.

Post-game, when Hamilton tossed his team mate a hat to wear on the podium, Rosberg immediately threw it right back, and failed to celebrate with Hamilton during the traditional champagne-opening.

In the Mexican Grand Prix this weekend Rosberg took pole position ahead of his Mercedes team mate. Controversially, Hamilton for a time refused to be called in for a second pit stop when the Mercedes team viewed his tyres as a potential safety hazard if run to the end. Hamilton claimed they felt fine and continued the race for an extra lap before pitting, apparently reluctantly. The mistrust within the Mercedes team continues to be a prominent issue with Hamilton not believing the report on his tyres. Hamilton and Rosberg continue to look more like rivals than team mates.

It's important of course to remember that the two share a long history. They met back in 2000, as 14-year-olds competing in the karting circuit. According to former F1 race winner and rally driver Robert Kubica, the pair would consistently compete even on trivial matters, such as races to eat pizza or at riding a unicycle.

The Mercedes pair have had a number of run-ins
Photo: Octane Photography
As they moved into the world of Formula 1, those friendly tensions turned for the worse, most notably during the Spa race in 2014, when Hamilton became convinced that Rosberg had hit him intentionally. Surely, the irony of the current reversal of the situation will not be lost on both of them.

Mercedes appeared to have diffused the situation successfully after a behind-the-door exchange between the two drivers. Hamilton came out of the meeting acknowledging mistakes were made on both sides, and promised to stand united as team.

The Brazilian GP on the 15th November looks to be a compelling event not only for the race, but also the continuation of the Mercedes/Hamilton situation. At the time of writing Hamilton is the favourite to win at 13/20, Rosberg is second favourite at 6/4 and Sebastian Vettel is third at 9/1.

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