Nico Rosberg has received praise on social media for providing his honest opinion on Toto Wolff’s radio message to Sir Lewis Hamilton at the end of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Hamilton was out-performed by team-mate George Russell in all three days of the weekend in Imola as the 24-year-old finished ahead of him in Friday qualifying, Saturday’s sprint and Sunday’s race.
The seven-time champion was caught out during the pit stop phase as the drivers transitioned onto slick tyres and, having been on the brink of points, he found himself caught behind Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly for much of the afternoon, eventually coming across the line P14, which became 13th after an unsafe release penalty was applied to Esteban Ocon.
Meanwhile, an exceptional performance from Russell saw him finish in fourth as he went 29 points clear of his compatriot in the Drivers’ Championship, epitomising the contrasting fortunes for the pair.
Wolff apologised to Hamilton after the race, sympathising with the fact that the 37-year-old was faced with an “undriveable” Mercedes last weekend, and Rosberg saw this as a tactic to try and lift Hamilton’s spirits.
“Toto was playing the mental game which was very smart on his behalf,” the 2016 Formula 1 champion said.
“[Mercedes were] taking the blame themselves, really trying to support Lewis mentally, lifting him up and saying ‘hey Lewis, none of your doing, it’s really on us,’ so that’s very smart because it’s not quite the truth.
“Let’s remember that Russell is in P4, you know with that same car so Lewis definitely has a big role to play in that poor result this weekend.
“Russell still managed to get P4 out of it with a brilliant weekend so there was more in that car so really Toto was just trying to lift him up.”
One fan on Twitter appreciated the analysis from the 2016 world champion, affirming that, with Russell scoring 12 points, Hamilton simply did not do a good enough job.
“Nice to hear a spokesperson actually calling out Mercedes’ PR BS,” they said.
They clarified that there is a distinction to be made between appeasing him mentally and flat-out exonerating him of all responsibility for the performance.
“Not saying it’s his fault and saying they gave him an impossible car to drive is completely different especially when George is P4,” they added.
Red Bull’s one-two finish through Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez saw the Milton Keynes side rise above Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship having previously struggled with reliability in two of the opening three rounds of the year.