Lewis Hamilton’s brutal swipe at Nico Rosberg amid Bottas praise: ‘He doesn’t blame car!’

Lewis Hamilton goes undercover to inspire school children

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As Hamilton looks to claw back the gap between himself and his title rival Max Verstappen in Brazil this week, he will be hoping he can heal an apparent divide within the Mercedes team. After the Red Bull driver stormed past both Hamilton and Bottas at the start of last week’s Mexican Grand Prix, Hamilton accused his teammate of “leaving the door open” for the Dutchman. Hamilton said: “I envisaged the start differently in the sense that Valtteri would get a better start and I would try to get into his tow. “I was covering my side of the track and making sure that nobody could come up the inside and try to keep whichever Red Bull I could see in my mirror behind.

“I thought Valtteri would be doing the same, but obviously he left the door open for Max. Max was on the racing line and did an amazing job braking into turn one. I was on the inside and there was no opening.”

Formula 1 is renowned for tension between teammates, and Hamilton is no stranger to this.

One of the biggest rivals in Hamilton’s career was Nico Rosberg, the German who beat him to the world title in 2016 before retiring.

In 2018, Hamilton appeared to criticise Rosberg while praising his current teammate Bottas.

The Briton said at the time: “The great thing with Valtteri compared to rest is he doesn’t blame the car.

“If I win he says I’ve done a better job.

“If I‘ve won then I look at myself and say he has done a better job.

“Every other driver doesn’t do that. A lot of other drivers couldn’t deal with the fact that I’m quicker.

“That’s really why we get on the way we do and that’s why we get on so well.”

Hamilton also appeared to lift the lid on some underhand tactics his old teammates have used to try and get an advantage over him.

He added: “Some drivers try and sway the team to give them the advantage such as quicker pit stops,” he said.

“I hear some drivers ask reporters ‘how do I get into Lewis’ head?’.”

Hamilton and Rosberg had some big battles in the past as teammates and didn’t always get on.

In 2015, they famously clashed when Hamilton won the title early in the US Grand Prix – Rosberg threw his baseball cap in his direction while sat in the warm down room.

In 2016, things got even worse, most notably at the Spanish Grand Prix when the two crashed into each other on the first lap.

Hamilton is now preparing for a new era at Mercedes, as Bottas is poised to move to Alfa Romeo next season.

This will open the door for George Russell to join Mercedes from Williams.

After the announcement in September, Russell said: “It’s a special day for me personally and professionally, but also a day of mixed emotions.

“I’m excited and humbled to be joining Mercedes next year, which is a huge career step, but it also means I’ll be saying goodbye to my teammates and friends at Williams.

“It has been an honour working alongside every member of the team, and an honour to represent the Williams name in F1.

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“Looking ahead to next season, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t absolutely buzzing. It’s a huge opportunity and one I want to grab with both hands. But I’m under no illusions as to the scale of the challenge; it’s going to be a steep learning curve.”

However, Mercedes Team Principal, Toto Wolff, sent a warning to Russell last week.

He said: “This is Mercedes. We have no place for the genius jerk. Even a superstar driver has to respect team values.

“I wouldn’t hesitate in the future if a driver talked bad about the team or wasn’t appropriate, I would first deal with it internally and if that didn’t yield results I would take the driver out of the car. On the bench, yes.

“And George Russell is another intelligent young man. He will slot into the team but that doesn’t mean he has to hold back when driving. You can’t expect a lion in the car and a puppy out of it.

“But there are certain boundaries within the team that must be respected and George knows them very well. Once the lights are green, only the drivers are responsible.”

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