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F1 Abu Dhabi GP: Rosberg didn’t expect Hamilton to back him up

Nico Rosberg says he was probably a bit 'naive' to think Lewis Hamilton wouldn't try to back him into the pack during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX – Race results


New Formula 1 World Champion Nico Rosberg has revealed he didn't expect Lewis Hamilton to adopt delaying tactics during a tense Abu Dhabi Grand Prix title finale but says he 'can understand' why he did.

Leader Hamilton attempted to hold up second place Rosberg in the closing laps of the Yas Marina race, an effort to play the close following Max Verstappen and then Sebastian Vettel in contention despite Mercedes' own protestations over the radio.

The tactic wouldn't work though with Vettel holding in station in third, allowing Rosberg to complete the result he needed to become F1's 33rd world champion by five points over Hamilton.

Asked whether he was expecting Hamilton to force him into the clutches of the following drivers, Rosberg admits he didn't think his team-mate would resort to such an attempt. Nevertheless, Rosberg understands why he did.

“I wasn't expecting it, maybe I was a bit naïve but I didn't expect it,” he said. “It is not something we need to discuss because it is really easy to understand the team's side as we do something a certain way all year and we don't change it for one race.

“At the same time you can understand the side from Lewis because we are out their fighting as drivers and you can understand that he wants to try something. We will just leave it at that and don't need to discuss it.

READ: Hamilton: I don't know why Mercedes didn't let us race…

Admitting to feeling stress in the final laps as the fast-approaching Vettel lifted himself to third position, Rosberg says he was worried Hamilton would go 'extreme' in backing him up.

“The last 10 laps [was stressful] as I could see them coming with what Lewis was doing and I didn't know how far he was going to push it. He could just go completely extreme and then made a right mess. I didn't know what to expect so that was also very, very tough.”

Rosberg was also relieved to make his 'critical' pass on Verstappen stick early on in the race after the two went side-by-side at turns seven, eight and nine with the German coming out on top.

“I could not think about what was at stake. Being told it was critical to pass Verstappen, it is not a nice thing to hear. Honestly it was really bad. The feeling that I had right after I passed him I have never had that in a race car before in my life. I don't want it to happen again!”

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27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
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29.04.2017 - Qualifying, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H and Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
29.04.2017 - Qualifying, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H pole position and 2nd place Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
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29.04.2017 - Qualifying, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
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