Mercedes AMG Petronas have praised Lewis Hamilton’s “hard-fought” victory in the Chinese Grand Prix but Nico Rosberg has played down his whining that featured in post-race interviews.
Indeed it is Hamilton’s second consecutive victory in China and this time he has achieved the ‘Grand Chelum’ – pole, fastest lap, and lights-to-flag victory. Not included in the Chelum, but worth mentioning, is Hamilton’s top finish in all three practice sessions as well.
He said: “I’m really happy. It was a great race and really positive to have a clean weekend throughout every session. The team did a great job. Going into today we expected it to be close with Ferrari as they had been good on the tyres on their long runs. The goal was to run my own race and manage the tyres as best I could; I was driving as hard as I could within the constraints of the tyres and just trying to stretch out the Option stints for as long as possible.
“I never really had a threat from Nico but I didn’t do anything intentionally to slow him up. Before the second stops I was able to put in a few fast laps to build the gap which I really enjoyed. Then, it was a case of managing the life of the Prime tyre to the finish. Overall, I’ve just got to say thank you to the team for a smooth weekend. We dialled the car in where I wanted and that helped me deliver out there today.”
Notice the start of the second paragraph “I never really had a threat from Nico,” the team radio and post-race press conference was filled with Rosberg complaining about Hamilton slowing him down. While many, including Niki Lauda, laughed away the comments, the young German has admitted his frustration.
He stated: “I’m a bit frustrated today, as I saw how much of a difference four hundredths of a second to Lewis in Qualifying can make. Lewis managed his tyres a lot in the middle stint and that put me at risk with Vettel right behind. But the team adapted to box me earlier for the second stop and stay ahead of the Ferrari after he had pitted to try and jump ahead through the undercut on new tyres. So that worked out – but I then had a long final stint to do and the tyres were beginning to give up in the final laps. I’m sure we will sit down and discuss it all now. But in general it’s up to me to change the situation. I just need to make a better job on Saturday.”
Mercedes Exuctive Director (Technical), Paddy Lowe, mentioned just how much of a threat Ferrari are becoming to Mercedes and not to underestimate them: “A fantastic result for the team to get another one-two finish. Malaysia was not only a good reminder of how difficult it is to win a Grand Prix, but also how much we don’t like not winning! This weekend we went out there to improve on our performance and everybody did a great job to achieve that. Ferrari pushed us very hard indeed – especially in the first stint. We were pleasantly surprised to see that Sebastian (Vettel) was the first to fall away and pit on the first set of option tyres. We were then able to shadow his strategy and bring home the one-two. It certainly wasn’t comfortable and the pressure was very much on both the drivers and the crew to nail the necessary laps and pit stops respectively. It was a great group performance and a well-earned team result.”