Rosberg's controversial pole for Monaco Grand Prix upheld by stewards
German's Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton irate as tensions between the pair keep simmering
Formula One stewards upheld Nico Rosberg’s Monaco Grand Prix pole position on Saturday after investigating a qualifying incident that denied Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton the chance to beat him.
They said in a statement, after hearing from the team and examining video footage, that they would be taking no further action against the German because they could find no evidence of any offence being committed.
Rosberg had locked up on the descent to Mirabeau and skidded down the escape road in the final seconds of qualifying, bringing out yellow warning flags that forced championship leader Hamilton to slow just as he was on his last quick lap.
Hamilton had been visibly irate at how Rosberg’s late error cost him a shot at qualifying in first place. The Mercedes pair went out for one final qualifying lap with less than a minute remaining.
“I just locked up, the outside front (tire), I think it was, or the inside, I’m not sure,” Rosberg said. “I was still trying to make it but in the last moment I had to turn out because I was going to hit the tire wall, but I managed to go into the escape road.”
It is the second pole of the season for Rosberg. Hamilton, who leads Rosberg by just three points overall, has the other four.
Rosberg’s leading time was 1 minute, 15.989 seconds, with Hamilton clocking 1:16.048 and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was in third at 1:16.384. Four-time defending champion Sebastian Vettel of Germany finished fourth, while Fernando Alonso of Ferrari was fifth.
Tension has been building through the week, with Hamilton even publicly questioning whether his teammate has enough desire.
Although reluctant to discuss the incident in the post-qualifying news conference, Hamilton was later asked if the situation within Mercedes now compares to the internal rift between the late Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, who had an extremely tense relationship racing against each other for McLaren in the late 1980s.
His answer was “essentially”. He added: “I don’t know if Senna and Prost sat down and talked it out. I quite like the way Senna dealt with it, so I’m going to take a page out of his book.”
Hamilton, the 2008 F1 champion, recently questioned his teammate’s hunger to win at the highest level and referred to what he considered Rosberg’s easier upbringing.
“I come from a not-great place in Stevenage and lived on a couch in my dad’s apartment, and Nico grew up in Monaco with jets and hotels and boats and all these kind of things,” Hamilton said on Thursday. “If I were to come here believing that Nico is hungrier than me then I might as well go home.”
While Rosberg was smiling at the post-qualifying conference, Hamilton looked stern-faced and gave short answers, saying “not really much” and “I was on target, yeah” when asked what he thought about the incident.
Rosberg tried to soothe the situation. “Of course I’m sorry for Lewis, I didn’t know where he was,” he said. “Of course, yeah it’s not great.”
Asked to respond to Rosberg’s apology, Hamilton shrugged his shoulders and mumbled: “I don’t have an answer to it.”