The renewal of hostilities between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg lasted all of a few hours -before the German was belting out Bon Jovi at his team-mate’s title-winning celebrations.
Hamilton, who has recorded his own music, was apparently too shy to join his team-mate on stage at Pete’s Duelling Piano Bar on Austin’s East Sixth Street, but Rosberg’s demeanour was a million miles from the face like thunder he showed immediately after the United States Grand Prix on Sunday.
Rosberg was furious after the pair had collided at the first corner, labelling Hamilton’s move “too -aggressive”.
He was immediately supported by Toto Wolff, the Mercedes head of motorsport, who said that he would sit the pair down for talks as soon as possible in a bid to avoid a fallout similar to Spa last year, when they crashed.
Wolff did not want to spoil Hamilton’s party, but he offered this rebuke for the newly crowned three-time champion,
“He [Rosberg] has reason to be upset for that particular incident,” Wolff said. “It was too hard and we need to pick it up and discuss it, because we don’t want it to escalate into something bigger.”
Asked if there was a danger that Rosberg could now treat Hamilton differently, with the title wrapped up, Wolff replied: “That danger is imminent. It is a crucial moment now to make sure this race and incident don’t release consequences within the team and split the two sides of the garage.”
The move happened at turn one, with the track still damp. Hamilton edged slightly ahead, braked late on the inside, and forced his team-mate off the track, banging wheels in the process.
After watching the replay, the Englishman was defiant, insisting there was nothing to discuss.
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, of Germany, Mercedes crew chief Toto Wolff, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, of Britain, and Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, of Germany, pose following the Formula One U.S. Grand Prix at the weekend. Picture/AP.
“I didn’t try and push him hard, it wasn’t intentional. I don’t feel like I was aggressive. I was on the inside so it was my line. No need [for talks]. Everyone has a right to their opinion, but it doesn’t matter because I won the race, so I feel pretty good about it.”
There was also a tense moment before the podium ceremony, when Hamilton threw Rosberg his sponsors’ cap, only for it to be thrown back. The German said that it was simply “games” but his face told a different story.
Hamilton said: “I said, ‘Here you go mate’, and then it came back at me. I can understand in many -respects how it is.”
With a mischievous smile, he added: “It’s the worst thing being my team-mate. He was disappointed with himself for his mistake. When you come after the race, when you are disappointed, the emotions are sometimes -unbearable. I don’t take anything from it. I’ve seen Nico in lots of different lights over the years.”
Despite Rosberg’s anger, the remnants of his chapter in the story of Hamilton’s career were largely put to bed on Sunday night.
This term their duel has been a pale imitation of last year. Other than in Spain and Austria, it is hard to think of a whole weekend where he has got the better of Hamilton. It leaves Formula One searching for a more compelling storyline.
Fortunately, one may be just around the corner. Sir Jackie Stewart, the man whose British record of three titles Hamilton equalled in Austin, pointed out over the weekend that the 30-year-old has not had a consistent rival to define himself against.
Hamilton needs Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari just as much as the sport does. The Mercedes driver had said in the build-up to the US race that equalling -Senna was his Everest, and he was unsure what was ahead.Vettel can be his K2, the next peak to master.
Vettel said: “We’ve enjoyed the battles we’ve had, and hopefully we’ll have more. I’m looking forward to it. He’s a bit different now than he was when I met him the first time. He’s a very good driver, loves -racing, and a tough one to beat.”