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Nico Rosberg: “I didn’t expect Lewis to turn in…”

Nico Rosberg is adamant that he was not at fault in the last lap collision with Lewis Hamilton in Austria, despite the FIA stewards deciding otherwise.

Rosberg insisted that he had left enough space for his team mate, and that he was surprised when Lewis turned in.

So, I am on the inside, I have the right to defend,” said Rosberg. “I don’t need to take the ideal line and I have Lewis on the outside and I wanted to keep him there. Of course always leaving him track space, that‘s clear, that is always the intention. That‘s it.

It is a fact he had space. You can look at the on-board, and all the other cameras. Of course after the collision it may look like no, because I am airborne, and I lose grip, so of course it takes me further out of the track. And after that it may look like there was less space, but that‘s irrelevant because it was after a collision. I just want to repeat, at all times there was space, prior to the collision.

I am just extremely frustrated because for me I had the win in the bag, and even in the moment I was sure that I’m in a good position here to defend and win this even, just instances before the collision. Because the collision completely took me by surprise, I didn’t expect Lewis to turn in.”

Asked if he could apportion blame he said: “I can say that for sure I didn’t drive into anybody because I had the car fully under control at all times, I didn’t lock up or anything. Completely under control. And him turning in completely took me by surprise. He apparently said in a TV interview that I was in his blind spot, and so maybe that is why he turned in. Maybe that is a possible explanation.”

Rosberg insisted that he wasn’t thinking about longer term ramifications for his relationship with Hamilton,

I don’t think of a big picture like that. I am just thinking about today, I’m gutted, and that‘s it. Why think back or forward or whatever? I‘ve lost the race and he won it, I am the guy who suffered from the collision, and he didn’t. That is it. I was unlucky, he got lucky.”

Asked if he’d discussed it with Lewis he said: “I wanted to discuss it before but he didn’t feel the need to because I wanted to hear why he turned in.”

 

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Lewis Hamilton: “I don’t want to go into any negatives…”

Lewis Hamilton has refused to blame Nico Rosberg in public for their collision on the last lap of the Austrian GP, stating instead that people can draw their own conclusions.

Rosberg was deemed responsible by the FIA stewards, who said that the German did not leave enough “racing room” for his team mate.

“Honestly, I don’t want to get into that,” said Lewis when asked if he felt Rosberg was to blame. “I don’t want to go into any negatives, I want to focus on the fact I won today and I will enjoy that. Honestly, getting dragged down by that sort of stuff…

“You guys can see it – you guys can see the manoeuvre, and how it evolved. And you can take your own opinion from that, I have my opinion on it, but I will keep it for myself.”

Hamilton said that Rosberg’s mistake at Turn One at the start of the last lap was crucial, as it allowed him to gain momentum.

“It was definitely costly for him. I think he turned in early and clipped the kerb, which you never do, you don’t like to do, as you can’t get on the power. He also turned in early, clipped early, and bounced and couldn’t get power.

“It is easy when those things happen to follow and do the same thing and not get a good exit, but I managed to keep my shit together basically, and do the corner just as I did previously. Great on brakes, and I got a really good exit.”

Regarding the pass he said: “I would have loved to go to the inside, but he had covered the inside and I went to the outside and even got ahead, which was mega, it is very hard to do that here. It’s hard to follow at Turn 1, if he had done normally as the lap before, I wouldn’t have the chance but fortunately the opportunity came.”

Asked about team boss Toto Wolff’s frustration with collisions he hoped there would be no more issues this year.

“It is not something I go out to get involved in. I don’t go out to get caught in collisions. Today as you could see I drove as wide as possible, within the white lines, so I left a lot of space, three cars could have come on the inside of me there.

“As a team boss and team, the team want to finish 1-2, that is our goal and my goal, I want to be at the front of the 1-2, but certain circumstances have led us to where we are today. And we have a lot of races ahead and we will continue to race, I am fighting for the World Championship so we will keep fighting, and hopefully through these experiences there will hopefully be no more and hopefully a lot less than what we have had so far this year. Hopefully they are a blip in the mist and we will continue racing forward.”

Hamilton insisted he wanted to focus on his victory.

“Shit, what a race man, the last couple of laps! This is such a hard track to overtake and I didn’t know, last year I was trying to race and get the win, I didn’t know if I would get an opportunity open but that is what I live for. I live for racing so I feel fantastic right now. I am excited now to hopefully ride this wave on to the next race.”

 

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Lewis Hamilton: “It was great to see how close we all were…”

Lewis Hamilton may have qualified on pole in Canada, but the World Champion made it clear that he wasn’t entirely happy with his lap.

Hamilton edged team mate Nico Rosberg by just 0.062s, helped by the fact that the German spoiled his last attempt by locking up and Turn One.

“To be honest, it doesn’t matter how far you are ahead, as long as you are ahead,” said Hamilton. “But of course, in practice it was a much bigger gap than today. Today I just didn’t have the pace that I had yesterday but clearly it was enough. There was definitely more time in it.

“But it was great to see how close we all were, I think that’s great for the fans to see. An amazing turnout on a Saturday here today, as always, and I’m glad that it stayed dry. Going to be interesting tomorrow, but it’s the best place to start that’s for sure.

“It was very similar to the last race, to be honest. The ultrasoft is not particularly soft for whatever reason, they’re just such hard compounds; it takes us so long to get the temperature into them, so yeah, you need two laps to really bed the heat into the tread. But I think it was the same for everyone. Most people were generally in the same boat. You could push for the first lap but they were just not quite ready, so that’s why people do the second one.”

Hamilton acknowledged that Ferrari’s form has improved after Sebastian Vettel qualified a close third.

“Ferrari have obviously picked up the pace with the upgrades they’ve got in their car. This is a great track to test the ultimate speed so we’re excited to have the race with them. I think it should be exciting for the fans, I think their long runs look very strong. I don’t know if they were stronger than ours but we shall see tomorrow.”

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Lewis Hamilton: “I’m not arriving all excited…”

Lewis Hamilton insists he’s taking nothing for granted in Canada despite his strong record and the fact that his 2016 season took a turn for the better in Monaco.

Hamilton expects to have to overcome further hurdles in the course of this year.

“I feel positive coming here but of course I’m conscious of how the season’s gone so far,” he said today. “I’m not arriving all excited thinking everything’s going to go great again, just because we’ve had one win. I’m conscious that there are potholes that we could easily manoeuvre, but could also fall down.

“I’m just conscious of those bumps that are potentially ahead. If we have a smooth weekend, that will be amazing. If we have a smooth weekend in terms of performance it should be a happy weekend.”

Lewis doesn’t believe that he has any advantage over team mate Nico Rosberg in Canada, despite his winning record.

“Not at all, I don’t feel any different. Firstly you should never assume anything. That’s not really the feeling I have this weekend. I know that it’s a track that I’ve always been quick at. You look at the season and there’ll be tracks like I’ve won there, been quick there, this one’s always difficult but I have won there, but I can get back there through work.

“There’s other tracks that naturally come a little bit easier than others. This is a naturally good track for me, so hopefully I should be able to capitalise on that this weekend.

“But the weather’s all over the place, and I’ve had bad races here as well, hence I arrive here probably feeling the same as all the other drivers.”

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Toto Wolff praises “great team play from Nico”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that Nico Rosberg proved to be a great team player when he gave up second place to Lewis Hamilton on lap 16 of the Monaco GP.

Rosberg struggled for grip due to loss of tyre temperature and slowed down team mate Hamilton, while leader Daniel Ricciardo was able to get away. The team decided that the bigger picture was more important and having given Rosberg a lap to pick up his pace he was told to move over.

Somehow over the weekend we have struggled to put the tyres in the right window, and it looked like at the beginning we were suffering the same,” said Wolff. “The pace that Ricciardo was pulling away at it was clear that not reversing the situation between Nico and Lewis would definitely lose us the race, so we waited for quite a while and gave him more laps for the tyres to come in but it didn’t, and then finally we decided to call it because the pace was just so much slower and it was the right decision.

One thing that is maybe good to say immediately – if I had Niki [Lauda]’s red cap I would take it off because it is such a difficult circumstance, to give up the position and understand the global situation so it is great team play from Nico.

First of all, for any driver it is extremely difficult to accept such a call and we understand that. That is why we look at the situation for many laps and it lost us quite some race time… we looked at it for a couple of laps and then hoped that the tyre would switch on and then Ricciardo was 10-11 seconds gone, it was like having a damaged car and that is why we decided to make that call. We debated it for quite some time because it is not what we have done in the past. It was clear that there was a problem on the car.”

Mercedes kept Hamilton out on wets until it was dry enough to go straight to slicks without using intermediates, and that proved to be the call that won the race when Ricciardo had a bad stop.

He is part of the team so we all managed it in the right way. You could see that once he cleared Nico, then his pace was like Ricciardo’s pace. But not enough to catch up. And the only way of attempting a race win was to gamble – was to stay out on the wet tyre and it really dried up well in the first and second sector but the third sector remained wet so it was a dialogue between the driver giving the information of what he perceived out there and the discussion we had on the pit wall, whether we wanted to take the risk.

We had a 28-second gap to Nico – the pit stop was just short of 20 seconds so we knew there was 10 seconds we could play with and give up as a buffer and we never needed those seconds so it was the right call to stay out and it was an aggressive call but the right one.”

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Barcelona clash now history, Mercedes insists

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg insist that they have put their controversial Barcelona clash behind them.

Both Mercedes drivers and their boss Toto Wolff say that the matter is closed, and their focus is now on Monaco.

Barcelona was the worst feeling but, like I always say, the true test is how you get back up when you’ve been knocked down,” said Hamilton. “It was a tough moment for all of us after the race, but it’s now chapter closed and looking ahead to Monaco.”

I was gutted after what happened in Spain,” said Rosberg. “For myself, but mostly for the team. We’re in this together and I know how hard everybody works to make these amazing cars, so for us to leave them both in the gravel is the worst possible scenario. But we’ve talked it through and now it’s time to leave it in the past.”

Clearly, Barcelona was tough to take,” said Wolff. “We came away upset at an opportunity missed, but this is racing. The drivers know how we operate. The team is responsible for giving them the best possible cars and they are responsible for getting the best out of them, and for bringing them home. When we let them down, we apologise to the, and the same goes the other way. It’s a pretty normal culture – we deal with setbacks together and we move on.”

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Nico Rosberg: “It’s great if it’s a four-way battle with Ferrari”

Nico Rosberg is anticipating an exciting battle between Mercedes and Ferrari in the Bahrain GP – and the German stresses that the tyre rules mean that it will be hard to second guess exactly what his main rivals will do.

The use of three tyre compounds this year, plus the different allocations chosen by each team, has ensured that a variety of strategic permutations could work.

However this weekend it’s a little clearer at the front as the Mercedes and Ferrari drivers are all heading into the race with one new set of mediums, and two new sets of softs.

“It is going to be a tough one for sure,” he said when asked by this writer. “A lot can go on with the three different tyres, and all three will probably be used as well, for us in our case. It will for sure be an interesting race, strategy wise as well. And a lot of overtaking with different people in different situations with their tyres.”

Rosberg said that Mercedes wasn’t just eyeing Sebastian Vettel: “There’s Kimi as well, he had one of his greatest races here last year if I remember correctly, so for sure we’re keeping an eye on him. It’s great if it’s a four-way battle with Ferrari. That will be a great race, and there’s a very good chance that will be the case.”

The factor that may work against Ferrari is that Mercedes believes that the W07 benefited from cooler temperatures as qualifying went on, and that will also apply to the race.

“I think we got pretty good laps in at the end of Q3 as well, that’s part of it, and then temperatures dropping, getting a bit colder, maybe that was good for us. I’m not sure, it’s difficult to explain. It surprised us as well.”

Regarding Hamilton’s extra pace in qualifying he said: “Lewis did his homework very well.”

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