Nico Rosberg believes Toto Wolff’s radio message at Imola was “very smart” in trying to keep Lewis Hamilton motivated, but was “not quite the truth.
As he crossed the line in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Wolff apologized to the seven-time former World Champion over team radio after a tumultuous race in which Hamilton finished P13 and was lapped by eventual winner Max Verstappen.
As per the team radio:
“Sorry for what you have needed to drive today,” Wolff said directly to Hamilton. “I know this is undriveable and not what we deserve to score as a result.
“We’ll move from there, but this was a terrible race. We will come out of this.”
Hamilton admitted his title hopes for this year are over after the dust had settled at Imola, having been off the pace all weekend in the W13 – a car he described as being “not far off” the worst he has driven in his 16 seasons in Formula 1.
“Toto was playing the mental game, which is very smart on his behalf,” the 2016 World Champion told Sky Sports F1.
“[Mercedes are] taking the blame themselves, really trying to support Lewis mentally, lifting him up and saying, ‘hey, Lewis, it’s not your doing, it’s really on us’. That’s very smart because it’s not quite the truth.
“Let’s not forget Russell is in P4 with that same car, so Lewis definitely had a big role to play in that poor result this weekend.
“Russell still managed to get P4 out of it with a brilliant weekend, so there was more in that car.”
There is still a long way to go in the season, but Rosberg believes Wolff’s claim that he bears blame is a brilliant tactic to shift attention away from Hamilton’s troubles, while teammate George Russell went on to win the race by 12 points.