Lewis Hamilton roared to victory at the Chinese Grand Prix but sparked a furious blast from Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg as their long-running feud reignited on Sunday.
The Briton made it two wins out of three races this year after the cars came home behind the safety car, with Rosberg second and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finishing in third.
Rosberg, who reacted petulantly to his near-miss in qualifying by snapping at mechanics, at one point demanded over the radio that Hamilton speed up as Vettel closed in behind him.
“I wasn’t controlling his race, I was controlling my own race,” shrugged Hamilton, when asked about orders to pick up his pace. “I had no real threat from Nico through the whole race.”
An infuriated Rosberg shot back: “It’s interesting to hear from you, Lewis, that you were just thinking about yourself.
“Driving slower than was really necessary at the beginning of stints opened up the opportunity for Sebastian to try to jump me,” added the German, still hopping mad.
“It compromised my race.”
World champion Hamilton extended his record number of wins in China to four, but victory was overshadowed by his latest spat with Rosberg.
“It’s not my job to look after Nico’s race,” insisted Hamilton, when offered the chance to respond to Rosberg’s accusation.
“My job is to manage the car and bring the car home as healthy and as fast as possible. And that’s what I did.”
The pair’s rivalry boiled over last year when Rosberg drove into Hamilton in Belgium, and Mercedes will be anxious to avoid any further bad blood spilling over to next weekend’s Bahrain race.
– ‘Tell Lewis to speed up’ –
Vettel, who stunned dominant Mercedes to win in tropical Malaysia two weeks ago, failed to produce another upset as the Silver Arrows resumed normal service, but he held off team-mate Kimi Raikkonen to finish on the podium.
Hamilton was cruising almost five seconds ahead of Rosberg until Max Verstappen’s Torro Rosso stopped on the pit straight two laps from the end, bringing out the safety car.
“The safety car at the end wasn’t helpful for anyone because it’s an anti-climax,” said Hamilton, whose only trouble of a near-flawless weekend was an overheating cockpit. “Ultimately it was a much smoother weekend than the last race.”
Starting from pole, Hamilton darted aggressively into turn one and immediately began to take control.
Twenty laps in, Rosberg tetchily told his team: “Tell Lewis to speed up.”
Hamilton, who had been protecting his tyres, obliged and quickly established a comfortable gap over Rosberg that would prove impossible to close.
“We tried everything we could today,” said Vettel. “We were able to put some pressure on them, especially in the beginning of the race. Towards the end they were just too quick.”
Williams drivers Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas finished fifth and sixth respectively, with Romain Grosjean’s Lotus seventh and Sauber’s Felipe Nasr eighth.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Marcus Ericsson in the other Sauber rounded out the top 10.
McLaren’s Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso both finished a race together for the first time this year but have yet to win a point in 2015.
Alonso finished 12th but Button was given a five-second penalty for colliding with Lotus’s Pastor Maldonado, demoting him from 13th to 14th. – Agence France-Presse