Austin, Texas – Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton’s celebratory moments as he became a triple world champion on Sunday (October 25) had a bitter tinge.
As he equalled his boyhood hero Ayrton Senna’s title tally at the end of a dreary weekend in Austin, Briton Hamilton said it was the best moment of his life.
“Just typical games”
But in the moments before he leapt for joy on the podium, his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg hurled a Pirelli-branded cap at Hamilton.
The German said: “The cap (incident) was nothing, just typical games.”
In the pre-podium waiting room, an emotional Hamilton had helpfully tossed the second-placed Pirelli cap from the official table onto Rosberg’s lap and the defeated German did not appreciate the gesture.
When it came hurling back, narrowly missing Hamilton’s face, the new triple world champion glared back in surprise, and a similarly grim look could also be seen on Mercedes chief Paddy Lowe’s face.
Watch Rosberg hurl a cap back at Hamilton:
Rosberg refused to celebrate
Rosberg then refused to spray champagne on the podium as Hamilton celebrated his win and title.
Marc Surer, a pundit for German television Sky, said: “We said before the race that Nico is always so controlled, but now the collar bursts.
“I think it was a completely normal reaction after this race and it should not be overstated.”
Indeed, not only had Rosberg lost the world championship to Hamilton for the second consecutive time, he also lost the race win by spinning.
Rosberg spoke about spinning out of the race: “It’s unbelievable it has never happened to me (like that), ever. Not even in testing, never. I can’t explain it.”
And, having started from pole, he was also furious at Hamilton for their first-corner clash, which he described as “very aggressive”.
Rosberg said: “Lewis just was too aggressive today, extremely aggressive. One step too far. That’s not ok.”
Interestingly, while all sides admitted that Hamilton was the deserving champion, even Mercedes’ team management admitted the first corner clash was not fair on Rosberg.
Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda told German television RTL said: “Lewis left Nico no room at all and they even touched. “You have to understand Nico if he is angry.”
“But he also could have won the race, so although we are talking about the situation with Lewis, I think the mistake which was his (Rosberg’s) fault hurts ten times more.
“But the manoeuvre at the start, he’s absolutely right. Lewis also understands that and apologised. These things happen.”
Toto Wolff also defended Rosberg, saying Hamilton’s move was “probably a bit too hard”.
Wolff said: “But this is not the time to criticise him, he is the world champion and a deserving world champion.
Wolff added: “We will return to the other theme in a few days and ensure that it doesn’t grow into something bigger.”