Lewis Hamilton took victory for the Silver Arrows at the Chinese Grand Prix
Nico Rosberg claims Hamilton ruined his race by driving slowly
Buckle up for another Mercedes battle in the Formula One world championship.
Lewis Hamilton took victory for the Silver Arrows at the Chinese Grand Prix – only for his teammate Nico Rosberg to later claim he had ruined his race by driving slowly.
The reigning world champion captured his 35th grand prix win with a peerless pole-to-flag win under Shanghai’s sunny skies.
“It was great to have a smooth weekend,” the British racer said before spraying the champagne on the podium.
“The team have done a fantastic job to up our pace and improve after our last race where we struggled a bit.”
Hamilton had lost the Malaysia Grand Prix in a strategic battle with the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel but it was business as usual in Shanghai.
Rosberg came home second for Mercedes to snuff out the threat from the chasing Italian racers and renew his rivalry with Hamilton.
“It was an important comeback for the team,” said the 2014 championship runner-up.
Ferrari continued to put pressure on the world champion team with Vettel finishing third to collect his third straight podium of 2015.
“We just wanted to bring the podium back home,” said Vettel, a four-time world champion with Red Bull Racing.
“It’s been three out of three so far so it feels pretty good. I feel happy in the team and hopefully we can get a little bit closer to challenge these guys.”
Vettel is just 13 points behind Hamilton in the world championship and four points ahead of Rosberg, after the first three races of the year.
It was a disheartening weekend for Rosberg – the son of 1982 world champion Keke – and he allowed his frustrations to spill over for the first time this season.
On Saturday, Hamilton beat him to pole position by just 0.042 seconds and Rosberg complained to his engineers on the pit to car radio: “Oh, come on guys!”
Then the German insisted his race was hampered when he found himself sandwiched between race leader Hamilton and Vettel, both of whom had stopped for fresh tyres a few laps earlier.
“Lewis is driving very slowly. Tell him to speed up,” Rosberg told the Mercedes pit wall.
Mercedes then instructed Hamilton on the team radio: “OK Lewis we’d like to pick the pace up a little bit.”
Rosberg complained after the race that Hamilton’s lackadaisical Sunday driving was holding him up, pushing him back into Vettel’s thrall and taking life out of his tyres.
“It’s interesting to hear from you Lewis about your pace up front,” Rosberg said in the post-race media conference.
“That was compromising my race. Driving slowly, that was unnecessary, and meant Sebastian was closer to me.
“It cost me a lot of time … I’m unhappy about that of course.”
Hamilton responded: “It’s not my job to look after Nico’s race. It’s my job to bring the car home.
“I didn’t do anything intentionally to slow the cars down. If Nico had wanted to get by he could have tried, but he didn’t.”
Hamilton has won two grands prix in 2015 while Rosberg has yet to climb onto the top step of the podium.
If the German is to repeat his thrilling 2014 world title challenge, which went down to the final race in Abu Dhabi, he will need to turn things around soon.
Rosberg has the chance to exorcise his frustrations on track at the Bahrain Grand Prix in just seven day’s time.
Ferrari will hope the hot track temperatures at the desert race will help them topple Mercedes again, as they did on Sepang’s sizzling circuit.
The Italian team have the horsepower. Vettel finished less than three seconds behind Hamilton in China with Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen fourth.
There was also a small feat further down the field as former Ferrari race winner Fernando Alonso finished his first race for the McLaren Honda partnership with 12th place in China.
The Spanish double world champion missed the Australian Grand Prix because of a head injury sustained in testing and then retired in Malaysia.