Lewis Hamilton is still smarting at the decision by Mercedes to switch the mechanics working on his and team-mate Nico Rosberg’s cars at the start of this season – but, as he prepares for Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the last race of the season that will decide which of them win the world title, he said that he will not make his true feelings felt for a while.
After he won the world championship in 2014 and 2015, the team decided to break up Hamilton’s successful crew. Five of them, including his No1 mechanic, switched to Rosberg’s side of the garage, while others moved in the opposite direction.
When both drivers were asked about the decision here on Thursday, Hamilton said to Rosberg: “I want to hear the reason you were given.” He then added: “You have to buy my book in 10 years’ time to find out exactly what happened. It will be an interesting read.”
Two months ago, Hamilton suggested he was unhappy with the switch. He said: “Mechanics don’t have an effect on setup. The biggest effect it can have really on the driver is psychologically, but that is not something I want to go into. If something changes when it doesn’t really need to be changed it can have all sorts of effects.”
Mercedes justified the switch by saying that they did not want the team splitting into factions and wanted to keep it fresh. The move appeared to benefit Rosberg, who won the first four races of the season to open up a 43-point advantage over Hamilton. Though Hamilton overhauled that lead, the German now has a 12-point advantage and a top-three finish will secure his first world title.
When asked the same question, Rosberg defended the decision. He said: “We have been fighting for three years. We are fighting for race wins and championships, it is quite natural that a little separation can happen between two sides of the garage.
“And that is why the decision was taken to rotate a little bit and it has shown this year that is a very, very good thing to do.”
Hamilton said he will not be attempting to back Rosberg into the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen – an idea mischievously suggested by Red Bull’s team principal, Christian Horner, who said it would be smart to hold up Rosberg to give the other cars a chance to attack.
Hamilton said: “In terms of tactics in the race that has never been my thought process. If I am ahead, I want to be as far ahead as possible.
“Nico has been on pole here for the last two years. He has been very quick. This has been a relatively strong circuit for me but I have not delivered for the last two years, so my sole goal is to do so.”
Visibly emotional, Hamilton said he had endured a difficult week following the death of his friend and mentor Aki Hintsa, the former McLaren doctor, at the age of 58 from cancer. “I’d known Aki since 2004 and was very close to him. I was very fortunate to have been able to be there with him and his family in the last days.
“On the Monday after Brazil, I got to see him and spend time with him and we played music, got to see him smile, got to see the amazing man he was. I come here with almost double the power in the sense that I feel that I want to win this race more so for him. We were texting every single race through his battle and particularly the last race on Sunday.”
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