Nico Rosberg says that the battle between the two Mercedes drivers in Bahrain was good for the sport and will help to silence the critics.
From pole Rosberg lost the lead to Hamilton at the start, but he made repeated attempts to find a way past. The team split the strategies, giving him option tyres for the final stint, when Lewis was on the primes.
“I didn’t have the best of starts,” said Rosberg. “It was still good but Lewis had a little of a better one and that’s the way it went. And then, I was quicker today, which I was pleased about and gave it a run. I tried to overtake at the end of the first stint, couldn’t make it stick. And then we tried to invert the strategies, just to give me a shot at the end, again to overtake. That was the plan before the race, so that worked out well, and I tried to keep a good pace on the Prime, knowing that I’ll have a shot again at the end with the Option.
“It was a good battle again, but unfortunately I couldn’t make it happen today. Lewis did a good job defending but, you know, it was a massive fight out there, and that’s what I’m here for. For racing like that. I think it was a good day for the sport, which is important, because of recent little bits of criticism. I think they’re all going to be rather quiet tomorrow – which is a very good thing. It’s good that us as Silver Arrows, we made it happen – but of course I am very unhappy with second.”
Rosberg said everything possible was done to give him a chance to overtake: “The team makes the decision for strategies. We did exactly the plan we discussed before the race. Everything went exactly to plan in order to give me the best opportunity to have a shot at overtaking him at the end of the race.
“The team played it as fair as they possibly could today, let us race flat out. I don’t think you need more evidence than you saw that we’re here to race this year and there’s no team orders. We want to put on an amazing show for you guys out there, and you at home, and today we managed. Of course that’s the small positive, but as I said I really don’t like coming second.”
Intriguingly Rosberg acknowledged that watching fans might have interpreted the ‘bring it home’ radio messages as a sign to hold station.
“I was well aware that the whole world was thinking ‘huh, here we go, Silver Arrows team orders, finally they’re there.’ That was clear to me but it wasn’t that at all, it was just ‘guys, make sure that you get these cars to the finish. Don’t break them, don’t crash.’ The message was clear anyway, not really necessary to give such a message because we know that, we drive very hard but in the end with the necessary respect but we’re free to race all the way.
“In the end, I just got a bit more overheating on the tyres in the last three laps because I was pushing so hard in the slipstream, you know, with less grip, sliding a lot and so the tyres just overheated in the last three laps and I couldn’t get close enough any more. And also with the hybrid, at times you have more then you have less. It’s coming and going and it’s difficult to be there in the right moment when you do have it. It’s not that easy, so there was then a period when I didn’t have enough boost power either.”