Nico Rosberg acknowledged it was “very painful” allowing by Mercedes Formula 1 teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Monaco Grand Prix, but believes it made the team’s victory possible.
With polesitter Daniel Ricciardo opening up a lead over the two Mercedes at the start of the race, Rosberg was told to let Hamilton pass.
Rosberg was struggling to get his brakes and tires up to temperature, and his failure to do so resulted in the order from the pitwall. With Rosberg ultimately falling to seventh while Hamilton won, the gap between them in the drivers’ championship came down from 43 to 24 points.
Asked whether he had any regrets about assisting Hamilton, Rosberg replied: “At the time, it was pretty simple because it’s a rule we’ve had for many years now.
“It was pretty damn obvious at the time I wasn’t going to be able to fight for the win with that pace, so clearly I needed to give Lewis the chance to do it. They gave me a warning to try and up my pace, but I wasn’t able to, so the next step was to let Lewis by.
“The final result made it worthwhile for the team. That proved it was the right thing to do at the time because Lewis wouldn’t have won otherwise.
“It got the team the win in Monaco, so [the call was] fully understandable. Very painful, of course, that’s clear, but easy to decide to do that.”
It was only when listening to Rosberg during post-race media sessions that Hamilton learned what had unfolded, and he went up to his teammate to express his thanks afterward.
“Until then I didn’t know what happened,” Hamilton said. “I knew when I was behind Nico I was much quicker than him. I thought he had a problem, and as he said he had a problem with keeping the temperatures in.
“I was conscious neither of us would win the race [at that pace], which is why I was able to drive by.
“As he also said we kind of have an agreement, particularly when the team ask you to push and you are unable to and it’s hindering the team’s chance of winning. But I didn’t know [he did that] until I heard it here so I just said, ‘Thanks for being a gentleman.'”
Rosberg’s actions also earned praise from Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff.
“In such a difficult situation, to give up the position and understand the global situation was great team play from Nico,” said Wolff. “For any driver, it is extremely difficult to accept such a call, and we understand that.”