Button raises eyebrows at Hamilton Rosberg showdown
'Clean' remark from German driver prompts a quizzical reaction from Hamilton's former team mate
Ahead of what might be his last race in F1, Jenson Button stole some of the limelight from the two drivers fighting for the title – with a simple raised eyebrow during a press conference.
The McLaren driver's quizzical reaction to a comment from Nico Rosberg about his Mercedes team-mate and championship leader Lewis Hamilton, capured by the BBC, said much about this weekend's showdown between the two drivers.
With 50 points on offer for the winner of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and Rosberg trailling Hamilton by 17 points the German knows that if he wins the race and Hamilton does not finish second then he can take the crown.
However, there is no love lost between the former friends after a series of incidents during the season. During a press conference before the race, Hamilton said there was no need to warn the two drivers over their behaviour on Sunday despite the high stakes. "We are not children, we should know what is wrong and what is right," he said.
Rosberg, though, suggested that the ball was in Hamilton's court when it came to ensuring a fair race. "Lewis can do something to keep it clean, which is drive cleanly himself. So it's not like he can't do anything," said the German.
It was that remark that promoted Button's smirk. Perhaps he was recalling the two major flashpoints between the Mercedes drivers this season: Rosberg's apparent block on Hamilton in Monaco to prevent him taking pole position and then their collision at Spa in Belgium.
The body language between Rosberg and Hamilton was "cold enough to chill the warm desert air", says The Guardian.
Both men are wary of each other, says Daniel Johnson in the Daily Telegraph. "Although the level of acrimony has cooled since their memorable crash in Belgium, there remains a great deal of spice between these two... Both believe the other has been more devious over the course of their rivalry this year."
Hamilton landed the first blow in practice ahead of the race, clocking a lap time 0.133 seconds quicker than his rival's.