Mercedes now forced to treat Hamilton and Rosberg like babies
The feud between the Mercedes teammates, which exploded publicly in Monaco, had been brewing since Lewis Hamilton used an unauthorized engine mode to hold off Nico Rosberg in the Spanish Grand Prix, it has emerged.
|Hamilton and Rosberg are misbehaving children so Mercedes will now control everything from the pits|
It is understood that the pair - locked in a private duel for this year's world championship - are not on speaking terms. They barely offered one another a glance on the podium in Monaco, declined to shake hands and did not congratulate each other.
But the row predates the falling out in Monaco. Protecting a narrow lead in the closing stages of the Spanish Grand Prix, Hamilton turned up his engine performance to maximum without the permission of bosses on the pit wall. The 29-year-old was forced to apologize to his Mercedes team. While Rosberg felt aggrieved, Hamilton said on Monday that the same thing happened in Bahrain but in reverse.
"In the last race it was a mode that didn't really affect the outcome of the race. We were told that we had to stay in a certain mode," Hamilton said. "Nico did it in Bahrain and I did it in Barcelona."
Toto Wolff, Mercedes' head of motorsport, confirmed that both drivers would no longer have the freedom to adjust their own engine settings.
After the pair fell out spectacularly in Monte Carlo, Hamilton left no one under any illusions that he regards Rosberg's mistake in qualifying as a deliberate attempt to scupper his final lap by bringing out the yellow laps. He appeared dejected immediately after the race, but Jenson Button, who was witness to Hamilton's emotional volatility over three years as team-mates, said he would recover to drive an "untouchable" race in Montreal.
Button said: "I remember with Lewis that when we had a tussle in a race or there was an issue between us or with the team, he would have a really bad race and be quite outspoken and emotional. And the next race he would destroy me. The mind games people play on him will not work. Initially, he is an emotional character and he will be hurt but he comes back stronger than ever."
Mercedes will have a tough time keeping a lid on the situation, but in Niki Lauda they have the perfect man for the job. The Austrian admitted that the row remained unresolved, with Hamilton still declining to accept Rosberg's apology for what happened in qualifying. Lauda insisted it would be fixed before the next race in Canada, but admonished his drivers for failing to be courteous and recognize one another on the podium.
"What I did not like, I have to say, and I will tell him this, is that when you are up there [on the podium] and you don't say hello to your team-mate, which Nico has always done, that is not good.
"It's not because I am well educated, but it's for the brand Mercedes. This is something I start to worry about now, but it's easy to fix."
The seventh act in the Hamilton-Rosberg drama - the dominant story in F1 - will take place in Montreal, with the German holding a four-point lead in the championship after his victory on Sunday. Montreal is the venue of Hamilton's maiden victory in 2007, and he has driven superbly there since. As Button says: "He will probably be untouchable in Canada."
Button, who returned to the points with sixth on Sunday, added: "He would be very quiet when he came back [after an upset]. After a bad race where nothing dodgy was going on and he was just beaten fair and square, he would arrive at the next race very quiet and then go and blitz it. He will do the same in Canada."
Hamilton has been enjoying the company of his popstar girlfriend, Nicole Scherzinger, who was left to brighten the Briton's mood. "I am sure I will [forget Monaco by Canada]," he said. "I have a beautiful girl to go home to. I am sure she will make sure I forget that. It was a difficult weekend and I have always said that whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger." The Telegraph, London