Lewis Hamilton has been exonerated of any blame en route to winning his fourth Chinese Grand Prix despite being on the receiving end of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg’s ire.
Rosberg effectively accused Hamilton of selfishness in the post-race press conference at the Shanghai International Circuit after finishing second to the 30-year-old for the sixth time in the last 10 races.
Rosberg suggested Hamilton was at times slow, so potentially drawing him into the clutches of a chasing Sebastian Vettel in his Ferrari.
At one stage, with the gap between Hamilton and Rosberg 2.3 seconds and Vettel close behind, the German took to the radio to inform the team that “Hamilton is driving very slowly. Tell him to speed up”.
It appeared a strange message as Rosberg was not close enough to pass, but seconds later, via way of explanation, he said: “If I go closer I destroy my tyres, like the first set. That’s the problem.”
That prompted an immediate message to Hamilton as he was told: “Okay Lewis, pick the pace up a little bit.”
Asked about the message, Hamilton replied: “I wasn’t controlling his race, I was controlling my own race.
“My goal was to look after my car. I had no real threat from Nico throughout the whole race.”
The last remark, in particular, was a dig in the ribs for Rosberg who then responded in kind.
A clearly fuming Rosberg said: “It’s just now interesting to hear from you Lewis you were just thinking about yourself with the pace in front when that was compromising my race.
“Driving slower than was maybe necessary in the beginning of the stint meant Sebastian was close to me, and it opened up the opportunity for him to try an early pit stop to try and jump me and then I had to cover him.
“It was unnecessarily close with Sebastian as a result, and also it cost me a lot of race time because I had to cover him.
“Then my tyres died at the end of the race because my stint was just so much longer, so I’m unhappy about that.”
Asked to respond, Hamilton defended himself as he said: “It’s not my job to look after Nico’s race, it’s my job to manage the car and bring the car home as healthy and as fast as possible.
“That’s what I did. I didn’t do anything intentionally to slow any of the cars up, I was just focused on myself.
“If Nico wanted to get by he could have tried, but he didn’t.”