Lewis Hamilton 'mystified' by Rosberg row
Mercedes team-mate accuses Hamilton of trying to sabotage his race by driving too slowly
Lewis Hamilton cruised to victory in the Chinese Grand Prix although his win for Mercedes was marred by a row with teammate Nico Rosberg.
The German finished behind Hamilton in Shanghai and later accused the Briton of trying to back him up into Sebastian Vettel, who came in third for Ferrari.
The victory for Hamilton was his second in three races this season and extends his Championship lead to 13 points over Vettel. Rosberg lies third, four points behind his Ferrari rival, but it was criticism of Hamilton that was the main talking point to arise from an unspectacular Chinese GP.
According to BBC Sport, Rosberg believed Hamilton was driving too slowly, consequently allowing Vettel's chasing Ferrari to close up to his Mercedes, exposing him to an attempt by Ferrari to either pass – "by stopping first and benefitting from fresh tyres, called undercutting" – or by requiring him to do a longer final spell than his tyres could endure.
"It compromised my race massively at the time because the best possible race for Lewis was to back me off into Vettel so Vettel would try to undercut me and I would have to respond," explained the German. "It was very frustrating. Lewis was taking it as easy on his tyres. Interestingly, he said he was just thinking about himself and that says it all."
Hamilton denied his teammate's accusations. "That's absolutely not the case," he said. "I wasn't trying to back him up into Sebastian because ultimately we do need a one-two and that is a priority to the team. If he wanted to get close to overtake he could have done."
Hamilton said he was mystified by Rosberg's comments, particularly as they took a layer of gloss off what should have a day of unadulterated celebration for Mercedes as they bounced back from the disappointment of losing out to Ferrari at last month's Malyasian Grand Prix.
"I'm not really quite sure what his problem is," Hamilton said. "We came here to get one-two and we did. There shouldn't be too much aggro really."
Rosberg confirmed that he will have a "discussion" with Hamilton in due course and "we will see how it goes". As the BBC points out, it's not the first time the pair have been at loggerheads since becoming Mercedes teammates, the most notable incident coming in last year's Belgian Grand Prix when they clashed on the second lap.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff did his best to downplay the spat, telling reporters: "Lewis managed his tyres and that bunched Nico a little up into Sebastian and it probably wasn't worth it for his race. But it is about managing the tyres. We need to analyse it internally."
Further down the field, Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen finished fourth while Williams's Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas were fifth and six. Fernando Alonso continued his slow progress since recovering from a crash in testing, finishing 12th, one place in front of Jensen Button.
But the race was best summed-up by Vettel who was heard saying to Rosberg as they waited to mount the podium: "That was a bit of an anti-climax, wasn't it?"