Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda has vowed to intervene in the ongoing stoush between the team’s drivers, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, after the pair’s relationship completely broke down over a hostile Monaco Grand Prix weekend.
The increasing tension between the two childhood friends came to a head after qualifying, when Hamilton all but accused Rosberg of deliberately triggering yellow flags to deny him a shot at snatching provisional pole position from the defending race-winner.
The stewards subsequently investigated the incident and ruled that Rosberg had no case to answer, but Hamilton – both before and after – had persistently baited his teammate, telling reporters that he was ‘hungrier’ for success than the German and then continuing not to acknowledge Rosberg at all during the pre-race build-up.
But the animosity between the pair stems as far back as the Bahrain Grand Prix, where Rosberg ran a stronger engine setting at the close of the race in a bid to try and snatch the lead from Hamilton after a thrilling race-long duel.
Hamilton returned the favour in his attempts to keep Rosberg behind at the recent Spanish Grand Prix; it was an incident for which Rosberg was known to be upset and kicked off a complete fall-out between the pair.
Hamilton’s mood was not improved after finishing second to Rosberg at Monaco, where his inferior track position ensured that Rosberg was given the prime strategy and pitted first during the Safety Car period.
The Englishman refused to acknowledge Rosberg on the podium, and stormed off after giving a rude podium interview with guest interview, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch.
For Lauda – who has himself publicly admitted that he didn’t have the best of relationships with his teammates during his F1 career – Hamilton’s petulant behaviour is the final straw.
“That Lewis did not shake his hand is not in order,” he told Germany’s Sport Bild newspaper.
“He should congratulate Nico, because Nico always did it to him, even hugged him in Bahrain where they were both really fighting each other.”
“Lewis not happy finishing second is normal, but in the end he has to accept another guy was quicker. This is very simple in racing,” he added, speaking with AUTOSPORT.
“It’s [damaging] for the brand Mercedes. This is something I start to worry about now, but it’s easy to fix.”
Lauda vowed to address the issue before the Canadian Grand Prix, which takes place in less than a fortnight’s time.
“I understand all the comments and I have to wait two or three days, but before it goes to Canada it will be solved. There are certain limits and these certain limits I can reintroduce because I speak their language, the drivers’ language, and they do understand me, they like me and there is no issue.”
Image via XPB Images