Toto Wolff has conceded Lewis Hamilton's engine blowout 'clearly cost him the championship' but feels Nico Rosberg deserves a large chunk of credit for pushing his team-mate into a difficult position by Abu Dhabi.
The Mercedes team principal refused to deny Hamilton's engine blow while leading the Malaysian Grand Prix became a pivotal role in the route of the F1 world title decider.
With Hamilton needing to close a 12-point gap approaching the 2016 title decider in Abu Dhabi, if the chequered flag had been thrown before the British driver's mechanical heartbreak he would have actually entered the final race with a slender one-point advantage.
But Wolff feels Rosberg's efforts to recover from a first-lap spin in Sepang to finish third plus nine race wins in 2016 meant he opened up his own opportunity against Hamilton.
“This year, clearly, Malaysia cost Lewis the championship. It's clear,” Wolff said. “But we have not recognised Nico's achievement racing against the most talented driver and team-mate and winning a world championship.
“It's quite an achievement and I think we should honour it because he's tough cookie and he doesn't let go. There are some quite remarkable character traits about him that make him a champion and a worthy world champion.”
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Wolff also reiterated his mantra the Mercedes squad wins and loses together having swept to three consecutive F1 world drivers' and constructors' titles.
“I think you need to win and lose with dignity. This is a mechanical sport and if they would sit on the floor on the starting grid they wouldn't go far,” he said.
“This team has built them the best car over the last three years has made them win races and championships, and this team has let the down on occasion, but less occasions than making them celebrate.”
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