Mercedes Formula One driver Nico Rosberg claims that teammate Lewis Hamilton slowed him down during the Chinese Grand Prix. Hamilton was instructed to pick up the pace, but claims he had to manage his tires, saying "it's not my job to look after Nico's race." The Hatfields and McCoys have nothing on these two.
The race ended in the most predictable way possible: Hamilton won, with Rosberg in second and Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel in third.
Nico started the whine-fest during the podium interview, going from zero to insufferable real quick. Olympic athlete Edwin Moses asked Rosberg, "As a competitor, I know it's tough being a member of a team and an individual as well. How was your race today?"
Nico's response went straight to the pity party:
Well, you wouldn't know how it feels to finish second; you never did, did you! Well, that's the way it is. I gave it everything in the end on the prime tire to try to close the gap to Lewis and just took some risks. But it didn't pay off because my tires just died off in the end, so there we go, I wouldn't have managed to get any closer.
Look, Mark Webber had to put up with this nonsense at Red Bull, too, yet his responses to getting the shaft from his teammate felt like justified anger instead of a man-child temper tantrum. Rosberg saying "that's the way it is" coupled with all the "I'm beyond irritated at my teammate" body language was painful to watch. Nico doesn't come off as a man with a legitimate beef with how Mercedes and his teammate ran the race. He gives us the words of a man defeated. A man who has lost the battle of wits with his teammate. The entire scene was frustratingly passive-aggressive in a way that set the stage for the bombs dropped in the post-race interview.
Oh, that post-race interview was a goldmine.
First off, Nico should be mad. Nico had to keep Vettel behind him for the sake of the team's points, but he claims that he got held up by his teammate. Hamilton was asked to pick up the pace by his team when they noticed he was farting around, but he didn't. Hamilton's explanation given in the post-race presser was total garbage, too:
They kept coming on the radio and asking me to pick up the pace and I'm kind of, "well, I'm trying to manage these tires, I've basically got..." It's like you have £100 and you have to spend it wisely over your stint and I was trying to make my stint go as long as possible and whilst keeping...
At this point, Sebastian Vettel interrupted Hamilton's response to ask, "How many pounds [did you have] left at the end?"
Hamilton responded, "I was hopefully still wealthy at the end of it."
Dude, they're tires. They're meant to be used up at a race. If you still have lots of life left in a tire at the very end, you're driving too conservatively. He had no reason not to pick up the pace for the good of the team. Think of the ridiculous gap you could have put on the rest of the field, Hamilton. Wouldn't that have been great?
Lewis' responses made it clear that he was thinking of himself, not the team.
"My job's to manage the car and bring the car home as healthy and as fast as possible - and that's what I did," he explained in the press conference. "I didn't do anything intentionally to slow any of the cars up. I just was focusing on myself."
Oh, yeah. We got that part. Otherwise, you wouldn't have driven back in after the race on tires that didn't get enough use during the race. It's one thing to manage grip and drive within reason to make them last. It's another thing to drive so slow to do it that your competitors are catching up to your 1-2-placed team.
If you think I'm all in on Team Rosberg in pointing out that Lewis comes off like a selfish fartwaffle, nope. He's just as insufferable as his teammate. Mercedes is a team that I feel like I should like for the same reasons I like Audi in the World Endurance Championship: they have their act together, so they should be winning. However, both of their drivers are so irritating that it makes that impossible.
Lewis was right to call out that Nico should be in charge of Nico's race, first and foremost. Teammates should help each other out whenever possible for the sake of the constructor's championship, as Nico did in keeping Vettel behind them both. Ultimately, though, you're responsible for your own car.
Hamilton's also right to call out that passing is the responsibility of the car making the pass. "If Nico wanted to get by, he could have tried, but he didn't," said Hamilton in the press conference.
It's the third race of the season. For Rosberg to expect any help with passing Hamilton is asking too much at this point, and any statements that even insinuate that just come off as whining. Team orders should only come into play when one driver is close to a championship, or so far ahead in the points from the other that one driver's win would make a bigger difference than the other's.
It's April, so it's way too early in the season for any of those things to be true. Rosberg's complaint smacks of "waaaah, I couldn't get by." There should be consequences for going too slow, namely, your teammate should pass you if you're holding them up. Rosberg should have gone for it. And for crap's sake, Rosberg, make the pass if you can, and don't whine about it afterwards as if the entire universe placed a turd in only your sandwich if you can't. Don't blame the tires, the team or your teammate. Blame the driver responsible for putting that car where it needs to be: you.
You know what speaks louder than glaring at your teammate, shrugging and raising your nose up in your air as you whine about being number two? Results. Passes. Wins. Those things that you, as a racing driver, were hired to deliver.
Intra-team whining aside, it appears as though Mercedes still has an issue with tires. One driver was in tire conservation mode when the driver behind him was trying to get a better gap from him to the next team's car. That doesn't make a lot of sense. Mercedes' inability to figure out tire management cost them the race at Malaysia. Clearly, that's a team-wide strategy that they need to get better at.
Meanwhile, I'll be hoping for any other team in the entire grid to start winning so I don't have to listen to either of the Mercedes drivers deliver post-race interviews. Between the cocky, selfish attitude of Hamilton and Nico's incessant whining, these two are just irritating to watch.
[The full text of the podium and post-race interviews can be found here.]
[Corrections: I originally reported that Dan Knutson interrupted Hamilton to ask about things, but I misread that attribution on the interview transcript while trying to work in a loud media room. Sure enough, it's Seb, loud and clear. That has been corrected; thanks to Jason Swales for pointing it out!
Furthermore, it also appears as though Hamilton was on-mark with lap times more than the broadcast made it seem. Saying that Hamilton "didn't" speed up above was an oversimplification of mine, and he should get some credit for eventually getting on-mark, even if his attitude about that call makes him come off like a selfish turdwagon. It took him a lap after the initial call to get where Mercedes wanted him to be on lap times. Liquid1ce tracked down the times related to Mercedes' "speed up" call here.]
Photo credit: Getty Images
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