Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2016

Backing Rosberg up ‘not practical’, says Hamilton

2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says it wouldn’t be practical to hold Nico Rosberg up in order to encourage others to overtake his championship rival at Yas Marina.

Hamilton needs to win Sunday’s race with Rosberg no higher than fourth if he is to become champion. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said the smart thing for Hamilton to do would be to get in front of his team mate and hold him up.

“I was only just made aware of what Christian had said,” said Hamilton when asked about it during today’s press conference.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2016
How Hamilton can disrupt Rosberg’s title run
Hamilton said his first priority was to ensure he gets ahead of his team mate. “Nico has obviously been on pole for the last two years here, he’s been very quick.”

“This has generally been a relatively strong circuit for me but I have not delivered in the last years so my sole goal is to do so, make sure that I’m at my best this weekend as I have been the last couple of races.”

Hamilton said he will consider his tactical options on Sunday, but holding Rosberg up has “not ever really been my thought process”.

“I always really just try to, if I’m out ahead I want to be as far ahead as possible. Generally when you have a 18, 30 second lead, that’s as painful a blow as you can give to the guy that you’re fighting. So you look at the last race, if we didn’t have red flags, I would have been 30 seconds ahead. Those scenarios for me is more valuable, more of an achievement than backing up your team mate.”

He also pointed out the configuration of the Yas Marina circuit makes it difficult to delay a rival.

“Here, whilst in theory it sounds like it makes a lot of sense, it’s not very practical to do,” Hamilton concluded. “You’ve got two long DRS zones here, it wouldn’t be very easy and very wise to do so.”

Meanwhile Rosberg rebuffed suggestions he could try to take him team mate out of the race to guarantee the title.

“It’s going to be a weekend like any other where I’m going to go for the race win and do what it takes to get that,” he said. “Within the limits of what’s acceptable, of course.”

2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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32 comments on “Backing Rosberg up ‘not practical’, says Hamilton”

  1. Id back him up all day long. Then just burn off, cackling inanely when Max & DR swamp him. Needs must, jeez. You do anything within the parameters of acceptable behaviours to win it. Its not ballet. And just as importantly..its not important.

  2. certainly the first few laps why not until the RB’s and Ferraris have got on top of him

  3. “Generally when you have a 18, 30 second lead, that’s as painful a blow as you can give to the guy that you’re fighting.”

    Enough said.

    1. True. I like to call it ‘stamping one’s authority on a race.’ But it won’t stop Nico being WDC if it comes down to a LH-NR 1-2. It might, in this case, only prove Nico was being conservative.

    2. Against a driver who wasn’t even trying? I don’t think so.

    3. I agree KB.

      Trouble is the last time he was 20 seconds out front having both Red Bulls between him and Nico was Malaysia! That went well…

      May as well started from pole in Spa and run what he had because it was all lost there.

      A kind of sickening reality to the silliness of this season.

      If Nico wins there will never have been a season where reliability ‘between team mates’ altered a championship run to such a degree.

      That right there says more than anything else this year and frankly, it’s not Nicos fault, but it shines a terrible light on F1 and Mercedes.

      1. The terrible light doesn’t highlight the weakness in the inane strategy? Zoom off Lewis and revel in your superiority.
        End of.

      2. If Nico wins there will never have been a season where reliability ‘between team mates’ altered a championship run to such a degree.

        Don’t state your feelings as a fact! On top of my mind i can say 1979… Or you know – 1950!

        That right there says more than anything else this year and frankly, it’s not Nicos fault, but it shines a terrible light on F1 and Mercedes.

        Reliability has always been a part of F1. As harsh as it sometimes seems, it’s not just this year. And what terrible light on Mercedes?! Ferrari have had much more retirements and on top of that bad strategy calls. Mercedes have won WCC and WDC for the 3rd year in a row. I wouldn’t call that a terrible light at all.

        1. Well said
          Senna – Prost 1989 is another great example

      3. Instead of dwelling on mechanical failures, which are inherent to this sport, Lewis should ask himself what he was doing in Bakoe. That race is, to me, the title decider this year.

        1. So, pick a race where an under performing Lewis could have scored more points and call that the defining moment of the championship title being lost, rather than engine failure whilst in the lead of a race…. Oh well, I guess we can all create the “moment”

          1. Exactly Debra. If there was one decider, so far, it was obviously Sepang.

          2. @Debra really? Sepang: He lost 28 points effectively to Nico! Baku, team made a terrible mistake of changing parameters and not informing Lewis of the chance which team admit He wouldnt be able to fix it unless told… same bloody team told Nico a lot to save him from a potential DNF… Ham lost more than a few significant points to Nico on car reliability and team’s unwillingness to help him.

      4. If Nico wins there will never have been a season where reliability ‘between team mates’ altered a championship run to such a degree.

        Unless you care to give back all of the many races where Lewis Hamilton got lucky, then you have to ascribe those where he was unlucky to him as well. The method in which your rival stumbles doesn’t matter, just that you beat him.

  4. I’m pretty sure that Michael Schumacher’s ’97 move on Villeneuve wrote the rule-book on how the stewards (and the FIA) will likely respond to any attempt by either driver to intentionally force the other into retirement to decide the championship.

    Would either driver recover (mentally or reputationally) from a full season DSQ in this day and age?

    1. +1

      MSchumacher’s move was a lot less obvious than Senna’s move and got DSQ from the champ. So, even a little bit, when doing stats, would be correct to consider Senna a 2-WDC.

      1. Sheridan Repton
        24th November 2016, 13:53

        Blimey, by that reckoning then Prost was a 3 time WDC and MSC what, 4?

      2. The most obvious was Schumacher taking Hill out in ’94…

      3. @corrado-dub A lot less obvious, yes. The fact of the matter is Senna wasn’t stripped of his points and disqualified from the year, whereas Michael Schumacher was.

  5. the configuration of the Yas Marina circuit makes it difficult to delay a rival

    I’d ask Alonso that question ;-)

    1. He did get stuck behind Petrov in the pre-DRS era. If he had DRS he would have breezed past the Renault and claimed his third title.

  6. It’s probably worth mentioning that Rosberg’s comments in the last two paragraphs was in response to a question from a representative of “The Daily Mail” who was clearly trying to goad Nico into saying something that could be used against him should the two make contact this weekend. He handled it pretty well I think.

    Also, the section of the presser where only Hamilton and Rosberg were present was about the most awkward I have ever seen. This “I’ll sit here and pretend the other driver doesn’t exist” act is seemingly here to stay.

  7. It seems pretty clear to me that Lewis has made peace with the fact that Nico is going to be champion this year, and I don’t doubt him when he says he’s just focusing on winning the race with as large a margin as possible.

    There have been arguments over why he has or hasn’t done enough this year, with people pointing to his race starts and a couple of poor performances in Baku and Singapore. However if he leads Nico home in Abu Dhabi he’ll have taken most race wins, most pole positions, and despite losing 28 points relative to Nico in Malaysia he’ll still only finish 5 points behind.

    It’s not a championship win, and the history books won’t be marked with an asterisk detailing Lewis’s reliability woes this year, but he’ll believe that he still has an edge over Nico and that had all been equal, he would have been Champion.

    1. @sparkyamg One of the better posts I’ve read in a long time.

      Well said, my friend.

    2. You never know…
      Is more than obvious that Nico has been playing with the points on the last few races. (not denying that Lewis might have been faster anyhow).
      But this is a mental game as much as technical, so even Lewis races would have been different if the points were different throughout the season.
      At the end of the game, anyone has multiple what ifs?
      Only the points counts.

    3. Just like Massa in 2008 had more wins, but as you say, no one takes that WDC away from Lewis.

    4. I don’t think he believes, I think he knows, and I think he has known since they were karting.

      Nico only showed some performance advantage over Lewis in 2013, but that soon tapered off. Lewis has been held back every year since Brawn got the boot and Toto took over. Reliability issues in 2014 and 2016 severely curtailed his points advantage in the championship and last year it was about the ‘car development’ mid season where Lewis angered Toto by talking about the setup not suiting him.

      The game is so obviously played, you just wonder how many people actually understand that the game is about getting people to stare at a ‘black mirror’.

  8. Hamilton has in all fairness been outperformed here for the last 3 seasons as team mates with Rosberg. His rocket start in 2014 may have given us a conclusive victory, but when Rosberg suffered reliability problems we didn’t get to see a straight fight.

    I think much like in Brazil he needs to just focus on beating Rosberg and letting fate deal him the result it does rather than compromising his own performance trying clever tactics. He’s more likely to end up in a ‘racing incident’ trying that than hurting Rosberg.

    1. Hamilton was long gone before Rosberg had the car issue

      1. and in fact, if you look at it, the car issue actually saved face for Nico. It was actually a good thing that Nico had the car issue, because it was something the masses could point and shout at and say, see, Nico couldn’t win because he had a car issue, it had nothing to do with the fact that he would have lost anyways, and that Lewis had multiple car issues in a row in 2014 during qualifying which set him back in the points or that Lewis was beating him left and right, much like this year. Rather dull, but it gives people more confidence in a guy who is about as German as Hillary is the president elect.

  9. For me most likely; Ham wins, Ros second, one RB on third an then a Ferrari or RB fourth. Ros champion of 2016.

    1. Same thing with Brazil, never a good track for Ham, but he won convincingly. He’ll need to repeat that performance again this weekend.

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