F1 Monaco Grand Prix: Angry Lewis Hamilton piles into Nico Rosberg
Briton hits out at team-mate for denying him pole for today’s Monaco Grand Prix and threatens to push him off the track
Saturday 24 May 2014
Lewis Hamilton all but accused his Mercedes team-mate and championship rival Nico Rosberg of deliberately denying him pole position for Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix and threatened in future to deliberately push the German off the track to get his own back.
The growing tension between the two drivers increased after the Rosberg made a mistake in the final seconds of yesterday’s qualifying session which forced him to abandon what Hamilton said would have been his own faster lap, leaving Rosberg on pole.
Hamilton’s reaction afterwards seemed to grow in intensity. “I should have known that was going to happen,” he said at one point. Then, when asked on BBC 5 Live: ‘Did he (Rosberg) screw you over?’, Hamilton snapped: “Potentially.”
Asked a similar question on Sky Sports, the championship leader said: “I’m not saying no.”
Hamilton even went as far as to suggest that he would resort to the same tactics that Ayrton Senna employed in his bitter feud with rival Alain Prost which ultimately resulted in the Brazilian securing the 1990 world championship after deliberately pushing the Frenchman off the road in Japan.
At first he was asked if his relationship with Rosberg was now more like Senna’s with Prost, meaning it had become a lot less friendly than it has been since their days in karting. To that Hamilton replied: “Essentially.” He also suggested there was little point in discussing the matter with his team-mate.
But as his anger increased he, perhaps rashly, added, in what appeared to be a reference to the way that Senna settled his score with Prost: “I quite like the way that Senna dealt with it so I’m going to take a page out of his book.”
Hamilton had dominated Rosberg in the three practice sessions, but as they went into their second and last runs in the final qualifying session Rosberg held the fastest time by a tenth of a second. But then came the mistake going down the hill from Casino Square, locking the right front wheel while slowing for the tight right-hand Mirabeau corner. As he slid towards the tyre wall he had no alternative but to release the brakes and steer up the escape road.
Hamilton had just begun his own final effort and was two-tenths of a second up as he approached the end of the first sector of the lap and the place where Rosberg’s car was still stranded. That was when he saw the waved yellow caution flags, under which a driver may not improve his lap times. He had no alternative but to back off the throttle and the lap – and his chance of pole position, was gone.
“I was on a pole lap, for sure,” Hamilton said. “I was a couple of tenths up.”
Many were reminded of the manner in which Michael Schumacher had crassly parked his Ferrari at the Rascasse corner to prevent Fernando Alonso challenging him for pole position back in 2006, and indeed the stewards called Rosberg before them to discuss the incident.
But where Schumacher was put to the back of the grid for his deliberate action, it was clear when they watched video footage that Rosberg had simply made a genuine error and they allowed him to keep his place since no further action was deemed necessary.
Rosberg, always recognised as a sportsman, apologised, and explained: “I just locked up, the outside front, I think it was, or the inside, I’m not sure, and that put me off line. I was still trying to make it but in the last moment I had to turn out because I was going to hit the tyre wall. It was close but I managed to go into the escape road.
“I knew that I had my first lap as my banker, so I was just trying to push that little bit more and went over the edge. It will be clear in the data. I just braked a little later and locked up.
“It’s not the way I wanted it go and I honestly thought it was over when I went off the road. So that definitely takes some of the pleasure away from it, but in the end first is first so I’m still very, very happy about it.”
Hamilton, who admitted that it stung him to be beaten by Rosberg in last year’s race, which the German won, would not be placated. Asked if he felt that Rosberg should apologise for the incident, he said tersely: “Why does he have to apologise? He’s on pole position.”
In all that excitement it almost went unnoticed that Red Bull new boy Daniel Ricciardo again upstaged four-time champion Sebastian Vettel as they took third and fourth places for today’s race, with the Ferrari duo of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen fifth and sixth.
Mercedes chiefs Toto Wolff and veteran champion Niki Lauda have calmly acknowledged all season that the chance of their drivers colliding has always been high so long as they allow them to fight on the track. Now that open warfare seems to have broken out off it.
Final Positions after Qualifying:
1 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 1min 15.989secs,
2 Lewis Hamilton(Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:16.048,
3 Daniel Ricciardo(Aus) Red Bull 1:16.384,
4 Sebastian Vettel(Ger) Red Bull 1:16.547,
5 Fernando Alonso(Spa) Ferrari 1:16.686,
6 Kimi Raikkonen(Fin) Ferrari 1:17.389,
7 Jean-Eric Vergne(Fra) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:17.540,
8 Kevin Magnussen(Den) McLaren 1:17.555,
9 Daniil Kvyat(Rus) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:18.090,
10 Sergio Perez(Mex) Force India 1:18.327,
11 Nico Hulkenberg(Ger) Force India 1:17.846,
12 Jenson Button(Gbr)McLaren 1:17.988,
13 Valtteri Bottas(Fin)Williams 1:18.082,
14 Romain Grosjean(Fra)Lotus F1 Team 1:18.196,
15 Pastor Maldonado(Ven)Lotus F1 Team 1:18.356,
16 Felipe Massa(Bra)Williams No Time,
17 Esteban Gutierrez(Mex)Sauber-Ferrari 1:18.741,
18 Adrian Sutil(Ger)Sauber-Ferrari 1:18.745,
19 Jules Bianchi (Fra)Marussia 1:19.332,
20 Max Chilton(Gbr)Marussia 1:19.928,
21 Kamui Kobayashi(Jpn)Caterham 1:20.133,
22 Marcus Ericsson(Swe) Caterham 1:21.732
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