Lewis Hamilton accused of 'anarchy' as Nico Rosberg wins F1 title
Mercedes driver could face suspension for defying team orders in bid to scupper team-mate's victory
Nico Rosberg was crowned F1 champion at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday, despite the efforts of his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
The British driver blatantly disobeyed orders in the final laps and slowed down the pace in the hope Rosberg would be overtaken by Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari and Jos Verstappen of Red Bull, a move described as "anarchy" by his team. He could now face suspension.
Rosberg needed to finish in the top three to win his first title, with most assuming he would settle for second place behind Hamilton.
That appeared to be the case until his team-mate "calculated that an act of obstruction was his only hope of saving his ebbing title prospects", says Oliver Brown of the Daily Telegraph.
Hamilton's "insubordination" made for "extraordinary theatre", says Brown, adding: "Toto Wolff, Mercedes' head of motorsport, did little to conceal his displeasure at what he had witnessed."
He continues: "While Hamilton was eventually persuaded to congratulate Rosberg and shake his hand, their exchanges in the immediate aftermath were a study in coldness... In many ways, it was a fitting denouement to a campaign of intense human drama. While Mercedes were inexorably dominant from the first practice session in Australia, 21 races ago, the tensions between the two leading men were compelling in their intensity."
Mercedes "will hold an inquiry into why Hamilton took the lone decision to risk victory and a championship by allowing Vettel and Verstappen to get close enough to challenge", says Kevin Eason in The Times.
But Tom Cary in the Daily Telegraph does not believe the driver was guilty of bad sportsmanship. "[His] tactics were within the rules, hurt no one and made the final grand prix of the year far more exciting than it otherwise might have been," he says.
The decision to disobey team orders is less easy to explain, the journalist continues, but "the only convincing criticism levelled at Hamilton on Sunday surely concerned his behaviour afterwards", when he was less than gracious towards the new champion.
Hamilton was reportedly still claiming a moral victory after the race, insisting he was the fastest driver in the sport, while Eason of the Times says the two drivers shook hands "with all the warmth of two men with an infectious disease".
Nevertheless, Rosberg's title is "a classic victory for the diligent, dogged competitor over a more gifted opponent", says Paul Weaver of The Guardian. "It was the triumph of the retriever over the greyhound, the tortoise over the hare."