Lewis Hamilton said he was “very, very shocked” to be told by his Mercedes-GP team to allow teammate and title rival Nico Rosberg to pass during Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
The incident, one of at least two in which Mercedes tried – and failed – to persuade Hamilton to help Rosberg, came with 23 laps remaining in a race won by Australian Daniel Ricciardo for Red Bull Racing.
The two Mercedes drivers, who finished third and fourth, were on different strategies and Rosberg, on a three-stop pit plan, was using faster soft tyres at the time and had another pit stop to make.
“Obviously, I’m aware that I was in the same race as him,” Hamilton said. “Just because he had one more stop than me doesn’t mean I’m not in same race.
“If I let him pass, then he could pull away and come back at me later.
“I was very, very shocked that the team would ask me to do that.
“He didn’t get close enough to overtake, I was not going to lift off and lose ground to Fernando [Alonso] or Daniel, so it was a bit strange.”
Hamilton started the race from the pit lane, and after briefly losing control and brushing the barrier at Turn 2 of the opening lap, made full use of his pure pace and two safety-car interventions on a drying track to fight his way through the field.
The Briton finished third behind two-time champion Alonso of Ferrari.
Asked “not to hold him up” over the team radio on lap 47, and reminded of the message on lap 52, Hamilton replied: “I’ll let him through if he gets closer ... I’m not slowing down for Nico.”
Rosberg asked via radio: “Why is he not letting me through?”
In response, Rosberg was told: “He’s had the message.”
This situation persisted for eight laps before Rosberg pitted for new soft tyres and a final charge.
He lost ground with the pit stop, but quickly passed the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen and the Williams of Felipe Massa to move into fourth.
German said he did not ask Hamilton to move aside, telling Autosport: “I didn’t want it. It was the team that informed me that he was going to let me past.
“That was it. I don’t know what happened then. We need to discuss it.”
Rosberg, who started on the pole and led the opening nine laps, kept his composure afterward, but was clearly irritated and said he could have passed Hamilton on the final lap when he had a clear tyres advantage.
“I had a chance on the last lap,” he said. “I’m very annoyed that I wasn’t able to make it happen. Lewis made a mistake, I tried around the outside but it didn’t work out.”
Rosberg made up 20 seconds on Alonso and Hamilton in the closing laps, and he refused to specifically discuss whether being stuck behind Hamilton had cost him a chance of victory.
“We have to discuss it internally, it would not make sense for me to speak about that now,” he said.
“I don’t want to speak theoretically about that situation. It’s better to discuss that in the team.
“Of course I’m going to sit down with the team, Lewis will be there also, and we are going to go through everything and see how much we can learn from today, as always.”
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