Shanghai, China (SportsNetwork.com) - The fierce rivalry between Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg was renewed in Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix.
After Hamilton won the Chinese GP for a record-extending fourth time and Rosberg finished second, Rosberg lashed out at Hamilton during a heated post- race press conference for deliberately driving too slow and therefore interfering with his pace.
Rosberg felt Hamilton's purposeful slow pace backed him up and allowed third- place runner Sebastian Vettel from Ferrari to gain on him just prior to the second round of pit stops in the mid-stages of this 56-lap race at Shanghai International Circuit.
At the start of the press conference, Hamilton noted that he was managing his tires throughout the race to avoid degradation.
Rosberg then expressed his unhappiness with Hamilton's tactics by saying, "It's just now interesting to hear from you, Lewis, that you were just thinking about yourself with the pace in front, and necessarily that was compromising my race. Driving slower than was maybe necessary at the beginning of stints meant that Sebastian was very close to me, and that opened up the opportunity for Sebastian to try that early pit stop to try and jump me. And then I had to cover him.
"So first of all, it was unnecessarily close with Sebastian as a result, and also it cost me a lot of race time as a result because I had to cover him and then my tires died at the end of the race because my stint was just so much longer. So I'm unhappy about that."
Hamilton responded to Rosberg's criticism by noting that he did not drive too slow in an effort to back up Rosberg.
"It's not my job to look after Nico's race," Hamilton said. "My job is to manage the car and bring the car home as healthy and as fast as possible. That is what I did. I didn't do anything intentionally to slow any of the cars up. I just was focusing on myself. If Nico wanted to get by he could have tried, but he didn't."
Mercedes had experienced tire wear in the Malaysian Grand Prix two weeks ago. Vettel won that race, in just his second start with Ferrari. He wound up finishing third in the Chinese GP.
This race ended under the safety car, which was deployed two laps from the finish when Max Verstappen's Toro Rosso car suffered engine failure and came to a stop on the straightaway. Hamilton held a seven-second lead over Rosberg before the deployment of the safety car.
There had been tension between Hamilton and Rosberg throughout the 2014 Formula One season, with both drivers battling each other hard for the world championship. Hamilton won his second F1 title, while Rosberg finished the season 67 points behind his teammate.