Hamilton says Rosberg deserves podium; Rosberg understands Mercedes orders
Hamilton led home Rosberg after the German was issued team orders to maintain position.
“That was a fantastic job by the team today, ” said Hamilton.
“They worked so hard over the winter and to achieve a podium at the second race of the season is a nice reward, particularly here in Malaysia at one of our home races. I have to say big congratulations to Nico. He drove a smarter and more controlled race than me this afternoon and deserved to finish where I did. The team made the call for us to hold positions and we both respected that. The race was tough, we were fighting hard with Red Bull and went aggressive on our fuel strategy but they were just too good today. Third and fourth places is still a great result for us however and just increases our motivation to keep pushing and close that gap.”
“Of course, it was disappointing for me having to hold position but I understand the team’s decision to safeguard our positions and to make sure that both cars got to the end with a strong team finish, especially in light of the tough times behind us,” added Rosberg.
Nico Rosberg said he understands why Mercedes asked him to hold position behind Lewis Hamilton in the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Hamilton was slow in the final stint as he had to save fuel and Rosberg was constantly on the radio requesting he be allowed to pass for third place. At the end of the race when team principal Ross Brawn thanked him for the drive, Rosberg replied “remember this one”.
When it was put to Rosberg that Hamilton had said his team-mate should have been on the podium instead, Rosberg said he knew the team would have made the same decision if he was the driver ahead.
“It’s nice to hear if he said that,” Rosberg said. “That’s the way it is really, fair play from me today! As a team effort I respected the team’s opinion. It’s an important day for us, we’ve had such a tough time over the past years – even Melbourne – and so to be third and fourth fighting the Red Bulls is such a milestone and we need to put in some consistency.
“To bring it home third and fourth was fully understandable and I know that if it had been the other way round they would have done the same thing. So that’s OK and for sure there will be times to fight between team-mates in the future.”
Rosberg did admit, however, that while he may understand the decision from the team, it doesn’t mean he’s happy about it.
“Just mixed [emotions]. From the one side I’m very happy because the car’s going well and it’s a great feeling out there to be right fighting with the leaders, the Red Bulls, that’s really awesome and that’s a big change from yesterday. So a big thanks for that to everybody; they’ve done an amazing job over the winter to make such a big step forward. It’s really spectacular.
“Personally I’m a bit disappointed for me because I’d have liked to push until the end. I was feeling really good out there.”
Following his radio message, when asked if he feels as if Mercedes owes him one now, Rosberg replied: “Not owe me one, no, I wouldn’t say that because I understand.
“I drive for Mercedes … so I’m pleased to be able to do such a great result for the team. But of course there’s a small side of me where I want to go flat out all the way to the end and be up on the podium myself, but the time will come for that.”