2016 Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg has sent his sympathy to former team-mate Sir Lewis Hamilton after a horrible day for the 37-year-old at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Hamilton ended the race P14, but was bumped up to 13th by the penalty awarded to Alpine’s Esteban Ocon for an unsafe release into the path of the Mercedes driver.
In the pits as the drivers transitioned onto the slick tyres, Hamilton was jumped by Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly, and spent the entirety of the second stint stuck behind the AlphaTauri.
While he did have countless runs at the Frenchman, Gasly was always able to outbreak him heading into the Tamburello chicane.
His team-mate George Russell ended the race fourth in an exceptional weekend for the 24-year-old, meaning that, while Hamilton may have been hindered by a temperamental car, he was thoroughly out-performed last weekend by the former Williams driver.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff apologised to him over the radio after the race and, while the 103-time race winner has vowed to keep working to resurrect his team’s championship-winning form, he does not believe he is in the title fight this season.
“I’m out of the championship for sure, there’s no question about that,” he said after describing his weekend as one “to forget.”
“But I’ll still keep working the hardest that I can and try and somehow pull it back together.”
Rosberg and Hamilton fought for three championships at Mercedes in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and, between them, won 51 races as the German finally claimed title success in 2016, so he knows first-hand the fierce competitor that exists within his former rival.
As such, it is difficult for him to watch Hamilton so downcast.
“That was tough to see Lewis in that state just now, really down, which is understandable,” he said.
“It is a long season, but they are nowhere with that car, so they’re not even going to be able to fight for race wins anytime soon.
“It’s difficult for Lewis to keep his motivation up. I think he will manage because he really is a fighter, and remember, there is always that thing that he still wants to beat his team-mate. That’s really, really important to him.”
In Rosberg’s mind, the fact that Russell is performing well in the other Mercedes could galvanise Hamilton to fight even harder to improve his results.
“With George performing so well, that could be the biggest motivator for Lewis to just keep going, keep fighting,” he explained.
“He does not want to see George in front of him ever again, so I think that will keep the fire on, which is great.”
Red Bull’s one-two through Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez in Bologna saw the Milton Keynes side leapfrog Mercedes for second in the Constructors’ Championship.