MONZA, Italy (AP) — Mercedes appeared to be amused over interpretations that team orders were behind Lewis Hamilton’s pass of teammate and rival Nico Rosberg that set up his Italian Grand Prix win.
The Brackley, England-based team tweeted a picture Monday of flying pigs with the attached message: “BREAKING NEWS: Dramatic scenes in the skies over Brackley as #NR6 hands #ItalianGP victory to #F1 WDC rival #LH44…”
The key moment in Sunday’s race came on lap 29 of 53 as Hamilton had recovered from a poor start to pull up behind Rosberg.
Clearly feeling Hamilton’s presence behind him, Rosberg braked hard and drove straight through the first chicane at the end of Monza’s main straightaway, allowing Hamilton to easily pass him.
Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff denied that team orders were in place after F1 veteran Eddie Jordan approached him about it.
“I said to Eddie, ‘Only a paranoid mind could come up with such an idea. If it would have been our idea it would have been bloody well done,'” Wolff said. “There’s lots of pressure on Nico because Lewis was so quick.”
Rosberg made the same mistake earlier in the race when Hamilton was far behind him, providing further evidence that there were no team orders.
“I just messed up and Lewis was quick so I had to step up my game and tried to get that little bit extra out of it and then messed up and locked up,” Rosberg said in a video blog posted Monday.
“I could have made the corner but then the risk is so big that my front tire would be square from the lockup,” the German driver added. “So the safer way and the best way and only way was to just go straight on so I don’t have to do another pit stop to change tires.”
Hamilton and Rosberg are locked in a tense duel for the title.
At the Belgian GP two weeks earlier, Rosberg finished second after crashing into Hamilton early and sending his teammate out of the incident-packed race — resulting in disciplinary measures from Mercedes and a reportedly hefty fine for Rosberg.
Rosberg’s championship lead was cut to 22 points with six races remaining and the Singapore GP up next in two weeks.
“All in all it’s not a disaster,” Rosberg said.