‘It’s com­plete rub­bish’

> Ros­berg scorns Hamil­ton ‘melt­down’ talk

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

FOR­MULA ONE cham­pi­onship leader Nico Ros­berg (pix) poured scorn on sug­ges­tions that Mercedes team­mate and reign­ing cham­pion Lewis Hamil­ton is in ‘melt­down’ mode af­ter los­ing ground in the ti­tle bat­tle.

“It’s com­plete rub­bish,” the Ger­man, win­ner of nine grands prix so far this sea­son, said as he and Hamil­ton joined fac­to­ry­based em­ploy­ees yes­ter­day to cel­e­brate the team’s third suc­ces­sive con­struc­tors’ cham­pi­onship.

“He’s on it as ever be­fore, fully mo­ti­vated and does mas­sive work hours also. I’ve sel­dom seen that from him in the last years, such a large amount,” he told Sky Sports tele­vi­sion at the team’s Brack­ley head­quar­ters.

Bri­tish me­dia, whose crit­i­cism of Hamil­ton’s use of Snapchat dur­ing a news con­fer­ence in Suzuka led to a back­lash from the driver who also walked out of an­other me­dia ses­sion, had ques­tioned his state of mind.

Mon­day’s pa­pers talked of a ‘del­i­cate ego’, ex­am­ined his ‘frag­ile men­tal state’ and sug­gested the Bri­ton was los­ing it on and off the track.

“Ex­ec­u­tives were mouthing the word ‘melt­down’,” re­ported the Times news­pa­per, which said the cham­pion had gone from “cocky prankster to sullen loser”.

Mercedes mo­tor­sport head Toto Wolff said it was clear the me­dia needed to pro­duce head­lines, build­ing up and knock­ing down.

“Lewis had a cou­ple of tough week­ends... if he re­cov­ers and has a good week­end in Austin, he’s the hero again,” he said. “That’s why I’m pretty re­laxed about it.”

The two driv­ers ear­lier vis­ited the Mercedes high per­for­mance en­gines fa­cil­ity at Brix­worth, where they also joined staff for a team pho­to­graph, signed au­to­graphs and posed for self­ies.

Mercedes won the con­struc­tors’ ti­tle in Ja­pan at the week­end, a week af­ter an en­gine fail­ure de­nied Hamil­ton vic­tory in Malaysia.

The three-times cham­pion, who fin­ished third in Suzuka on Sun­day while Ros­berg won, is now 33 points be­hind the Ger­man and even win­ning the last four races will not be enough if the other Mercedes fin­ishes sec­ond.

No driver has ever won nine races in a sea­son and not been crowned cham­pion at the end of it, but Ros­berg ex­pected a tough bat­tle right to the end.

“It’s go­ing to be an ex­cit­ing end to the sea­son for sure,” the Ger­man told Reuters tele­vi­sion. “A bat­tle with Lewis as al­ways, it’s al­ways tough against him.

“For me, it’s just about look­ing at Austin. I’m ex­cited to go there, I know I have the chance to win and I want to make it hap­pen.” – Reuters

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