"Luck" helped Lewis Hamilton to win Sunday's Italian grand prix. That is the view of his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, even if the championship leader didn't initially want his arch title nemesis to hear it.
At Monza, with the controversy surrounding their Spa crash still raging and Rosberg having been internally punished, the German made two mistakes whilst leading in Italy that allowed Hamilton to pass and go on to win. Combined with an oddly smiling boss Toto Wolff in the pits, it triggered the conspiracy theory that Rosberg made the 'mistakes' on purpose to right the wrongs and hand some points back to Hamilton.
Wolff has called the theorists "paranoid" and denied that Rosberg's mysterious penalty involved handing back an ill-gotten win to Hamilton. "It definitely wasn't any kind of punishment that affects the sporting side," the Austrian told Kleine Zeitung newspaper.
Still, not everyone is convinced. Safety car driver Bernd Maylander admitted what Rosberg did on Sunday was "not normal". "They were braking there at 360kph," he told Austrian Servus TV, "so you can easily make a mistake and go into the emergency exit. But two mistakes in the same place? It's not normal," Maylander admitted.
Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, an outside shot to take on the warring Rosberg and Hamilton for the title, agrees. "It is definitely one of the hardest braking zones throughout the season," said the Australian. "We have very little downforce as well so it's really difficult. Then you add the pressure from Lewis Hamilton in the heat of battle, a mistake can happen. One mistake, for sure it's actually pretty normal. The fact that it happened twice, I found interesting," Ricciardo smiled.
Arguably, the Mercedes duo's off-track battle is even more interesting than their wheel-to-wheel encounters. On Friday, during a tense pre-weekend press conference at Monza involving Hamilton, Rosberg admitted that the psychological war "Of course in sport plays a part".
Hamilton has been obviously playing that game recently, but Rosberg's combative skills have been arguably more covertly deployed in 2014. After the Monza 'mistake' and Hamilton's win, Rosberg switched into Italian to discuss the pivotal moment of the race with Mercedes' electronics chief Evan Short -- who is Canadian.
Commentators speculated that Rosberg chose to speak in Italian not only to Short but also Brazilian Felipe Massa in order to exclude the exclusively English-speaking Hamilton. Germany's Bild newspaper has revealed that Rosberg, whose conversation was clearly audible on television, said to Short: "He (Hamilton) was so damn lucky -- how is that even possible?" (GMM)