Nico Rosberg brands Lewis Hamilton as ‘soft’ after being passed by title rival Max Verstappen to lose the French Grand Prix on the penultimate lap, claiming it was ‘unusual’ for the world champion to not to ‘close the door’
- Lewis Hamilton was passed by Max Verstappen with one lap left at Paul Ricard
- The world champion appeared to offer little defence to see off title rival
- Hamilton’s former Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg branded move as ‘soft’
- But Hamilton insists he had no chance of being able to keep Verstappen at bay
Nico Rosberg has accused Lewis Hamilton of being ‘soft’ in losing the lead during Sunday’s French Grand Prix.
Rosberg, the 2016 world champion, was reflecting on how his one-time title adversary ceded ground to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on the penultimate lap, saying: ‘Unusual from Lewis. Close the damn door! No?
‘He usually looks like the best one-to-one racer and I’m surprised that he didn’t at least try by braking late and if possible keep Max on the outside, so it was a bit soft there from Lewis.
Max Verstappen (front) overtook Lewis Hamilton (centre) late on to win the French Grand Prix
Nico Rosberg (above)though believes Hamilton could have done more to defend his lead
‘It’s such a boost that Red Bull are really becoming the dominant force more and more, which is putting so much pressure on Mercedes. We are seeing that Mercedes are making mistake after mistake. So they need to be careful, and to keep it together from now on to have a chance.’
Hamilton, who finished second, responded to his one-time friend’s remarks on Sky Sports, saying: ‘Firstly, there are marbles on the inside of the track so I didn’t want to make my tyres worse than they were.
‘Max would have passed me on the straight afterwards so it would have made zero difference.
Hamilton (left) however insists he could do nothing to see off the attack of Verstappen (right)
‘You saw what happened to Valtteri (Bottas) – he went straight on (under pressure from Verstappen), so there was no point messing the tyres up.’ Hamilton, who fell victim to a two strategic errors by his Mercedes team, argued that they should have pitted twice, like Verstappen, rather than once.
‘A two-stop would have done the job but it was not on the cards at all for us, so we will do some analysis and try to figure out why,’ he said.
Hamilton’s team-mate Bottas, who finished fourth, was more strident over the radio, saying: ‘Why the f*** did nobody listen to me when I said it was going to be a two-stop race. F****** hell.’