ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX – Race results
Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner has offered his support to Lewis Hamilton for his 'tactical' efforts to back title rival Nico Rosberg into the pack during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, saying he did nothing wrong.
With a win alone not enough for Hamilton to usurp Rosberg if his Mercedes team-mate followed him home, the outgoing champion attempted to slow the pace down in the closing stages to allow both Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel a shot at passing him.
In the end the drivers would hold station, but only after Mercedes messaged on the radio to order Hamilton to pick up the pace, an intervention that the Briton admits he was irked by.
Indeed, Horner believes Hamilton was justified in his actions of 'winning the race as slowly as he could' so as to create the possibility of rivals getting between them.
READ: Hamilton: I don't know why Mercedes didn't let us race…
“Winning the race wasn't going to be the difference, he needed cars in between him and if he had charged off into the distance he would have never had created that possibility. He won the race as slowly as he could and it was only like in a football game when a team might protect from the opposition by kicking the ball around and not enabling the opposition to get the ball.
“I didn't see him do anything wrong today. There are only two drivers competing for the world championship so it was totally obvious he was going to do that.”
Well versed in fractious team-mate situations having managed Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber's infamously rivalry, Horner says he would have allowed Hamilton and Rosberg to race it out on track wheel-to-wheel.
“You couldn't expect anything different,” he continued. “They are racing for a world championship. The drivers' world championship. There are only two guys in it and they are both in the same car. Lewis, winning the race was never going to be enough for him today.
“He drove a tactical race and he didn't do anything dirty, he didn't do anything against the rules. It would be unfair to criticize Lewis for the way that he drove. It was obvious coming into the weekend that was his only chance of achieving the result that he wanted. It would be unfair to criticize him.”
Regardless, Horner says Rosberg is a worthy champion, even if he says he never expected Hamilton to drive any differently with his title on the line.
“It was only ever going to be that kind of battle between the two of them. Congratulations to Nico, he has driven a great season. He is a very worthy world champion, but it was naïve to think that there would be any different approach to this race with what is at stake.”
POINTS: The 2016 Drivers & Constructors World Championship standings!
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