Mercedes boss hopes ‘robbed’ Lewis Hamilton will continue racing
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Rosberg named Verstappen his driver of the year, after the Dutchman controversially pipped Hamilton to the World Driver’s Championship last month at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The pair were level on points going into the final Grand Prix of the season, but Verstappen overtook Hamilton in the race’s final lap after a safety car period to claim his first ever driver’s title. Speaking on his YouTube channel Rosberg heaped praise on the Red Bull driver for denying Hamilton a record eighth Drivers’ Championship.
He said: “[Verstappen was] just phenomenal.
“The level in qualifying most of the time, the consistency throughout the whole year, the level he took against Lewis, who is probably the greatest of all time, in the Mercedes and in that dominant form. It was just off the charts.
“Also the level in wheel to wheel racing. Lewis is the best in wheel to wheel racing but Verstappen, you probably have to say he was even better.
“That’s just crazy. The level also during the most pressured moments. Verstappen almost gets better when the pressure is high. I got like three-tenths slower when the pressure was high, he gets like two-tenths faster, it’s crazy.
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“I don’t know how he does it. Verstappen number one.
“If you take bad luck into consideration, he probably had a bit more bad luck.”
Rosberg was the last driver to beat Hamilton to the World Driver’s Championship in 2016, after which the German immediately retired.
Though Rosberg has been complimentary about Hamilton since his retirement, frequently heralding the Briton as the greatest of all time, the pair endured a fierce rivalry as Mercedes team-mates between 2013 and 2016.
After Mercedes delivered a completely dominant car in 2014 the World Drivers Championship became a two horse race and Hamilton and Rosberg’s childhood friendship turned into a bitter rivalry.
However, Rosberg stated in an interview upon retiring that he was eager to mend his relationship with Hamilton.
Speaking to Graham Bensinger Rosberg said: “It was important for me to tell him [he was to retire] personally as well because of the battle that we’ve had and everything.
“First of all I just wrote him a message before the actual announcement and then afterwards we got together and had a chat about it and went through a few things.
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“It was a nice conversation and I’m open to finding our way and even having a good relationship again in the future. Why not?”
Reminiscing on their friendship, Rosberg continued: “It’s a very unique story.
“When we were 14 years old we were both racing for the same go-kart team ‒ Mercedes Benz-McLaren at the time ‒ and we were best friends.
“We went on holiday to Greece, sat at dinner and said, ‘Imagine if in 15 years time we’re in the best Formula 1 team together, racing against each other for the championships.
“And then 15 years later it happens and that’s quite insane.”
The first sign of a bitter feud between Hamilton and Rosberg was when the Briton accused his team-mate of deliberately crashing into him “to prove a point” at the Belgian Grand Prix in 2014.
As Rosberg attempted to overtake Hamilton, the two cars touched and caused the latter driver to suffer a puncture and retire from the race.
Two years later they also clashed in Austria, with Hamilton controversially securing a first-place finish, while in Spain the drivers took each other out of the race.
While team-mates with Rosberg, Hamilton claimed two World Drivers’ Championships while Rosberg won the title in 2016.
Together they utterly dominated however, collectively winning 54 of 78 races over four seasons.
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