Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg in another awkward post-race exchange

nico rosberg

Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg clashed at another post-race press conference in Japan after the Ferrari driver poked fun at Mercedes’ recent controversy around tyre pressures.

Rosberg beat Vettel to second position at Suzuka but appeared frustrated in the post-race press conference, claiming he had to take evasive action to avoid a collision with Mercedes team-mate and eventual winner Lewis Hamilton on the opening lap. At the end of the press conference a question was asked about the tyre pressures enforced by Pirelli and whether they were too high for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Pirelli introduced new minimum tyre pressures after Rosberg and Vettel suffered scary blowouts at the Belgian Grand Prix. Following the latter’s expletive-laden rant at Pirelli at the end of that race, F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone told the drivers not to publicly criticise F1’s tyre manufacturer.

Possibly with this in mind, Rosberg responded to the question by saying: “No, not at all. Everything was perfect. No problems at all.”

Hamilton’s win at the Italian Grand Prix was only confirmed after a lengthy enquiry into Mercedes’ tyre pressures on the grid ahead of the race, with one tyre on each car found to be below the minimum allowed. The result stood because the tyres had been the correct pressure when fitted to the car.

After Rosberg’s response, Vettel made reference to the Monza race.

“Were you low again?” Vettel asked with a boyish grin. An awkward silence followed, with Rosberg appearing to grimace at the joke from the other side of Hamilton, who smiled at Vettel’s comment.

Responding to the silence, Vettel then said: “Come on, I’m joking – you can laugh.”

“I’m smiling,” replied Rosberg, who was not smiling.

The pair clashed after the season-opening Australian Grand Prix when Vettel mocked Rosberg’s claim he wanted to see Ferrari close the gap after Mercedes’ dominant victory at Albert Park.

Hamilton then offered a more measured response.

“All I know is that the tyres were… we don’t say it very often but the tyres were pretty amazing, particularly in the last stint,” Hamilton said “They were the best they’ve felt for a long time. They really felt really good but it must have been how it felt for him [Vettel] in the last race. Through qualifying, they were good but generally in the race it was getting better and better as the car gets lighter and stuff but I don’t think they were a problem this weekend.”


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