Noth­ing to Lews

> For­mer world cham­pion wins plau­dits as Mercedes pon­der pun­ish­ment

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

FOR all the head­lines scream­ing ‘anar­chy’, Lewis Hamil­ton’s pub­lic act of de­fi­ance against Mercedes in For­mula One’s ti­tlede­cid­ing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix could ul­ti­mately make rac­ing even more ex­cit­ing in 2017.

While Mercedes boss Toto Wolff re­fused to rule out pun­ish­ment af­ter Hamil­ton did ev­ery­thing he could to scup­per team­mate Nico Ros­berg’s cham­pi­onship chances in Sun­day’s show­down, he recog­nised he was in two minds about what to do.

The Aus­trian said he would sleep on the con­tro­versy but he also won­dered whether there might be a case for giv­ing the driv­ers more free­dom to race rather than seek­ing to con­trol them.

That, af­ter a 21-round sea­son in which Mercedes were more dom­i­nant than ever with 19 wins and 20 poles and won both ti­tles for the third year in a row, could prove a more pop­u­lar out­come.

While some con­demned Hamil­ton’s strat­egy in slow­ing the race, in a failed bid to help oth­ers catch and pass Ros­berg who needed to fin­ish on the podium to be­come cham­pion, oth­ers ap­plauded him for trans­form­ing what could have been a pro­ces­sional onetwo into a tense spec­ta­cle.

“Well done to @ LewisHamil­ton for a re­lent­less pur­suit of the ti­tle, keep­ing us on the edge of our flam­ing pants right up to the last lap,” de­clared 1996 world cham­pion Da­mon Hill on Twit­ter.

Red Bull team prin­ci­pal Chris­tian Horner, who rarely misses a chance to un­der­mine Wolff, said he would have ex­pected noth­ing less and ac­cused Mercedes of be­ing ‘naive’ in ask­ing Hamil­ton to speed up, in­struc­tions the driver ig­nored.

“I think Lewis was try­ing to back us up and I prob­a­bly would have done the same,” agreed Horner’s Dutch driver Max Ver­stap­pen. “You have to try these things to win a cham­pi­onship.”

Ros­berg, cham­pi­onship se­cured, could also see both sides of the ar­gu­ment.

“It’s re­ally easy to un­der­stand the team’s side. But at the same time of course you can un­der­stand Lewis be­cause this is the world cham­pi­onship,” he said.

From out­side For­mula One, for­mer Eng­land foot­ball striker Gary Lineker added his sup­port: “Don’t get @ LewisHamil­ton crit­i­cism. Why wouldn’t he give him­self the best chance to suc­ceed?”, he asked on Twit­ter.

From Hamil­ton’s per­spec­tive he had merely done what he had to do. “I don’t feel I did any­thing un­fair. We’re fight­ing for a cham­pi­onship, I was in the lead, I con­trol the pace. That’s the rules,” said the win­ner of 10 races this sea­son. – Reuters

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