Two ex-Formula One world champions are the latest to criticise Lewis Hamilton for his attitude and comments at the Monaco Grand Prix.
Hamilton refused to acknowledge winner and Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg on the podium. That followed an incident in qualifying when Rosberg brought out the yellow flags, thwarting Hamilton in his bid to claim pole position.
Rosberg led all the way from pole as he returned to the top of the drivers’ standings, leaving Hamilton to settle for second.
Three-times champion and Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda chastised Hamilton after the race, suggesting that ignoring Rosberg was “not good” and reflected badly on the Mercedes brand.
Now John Surtees and Mika Hakkinen have also said that Hamilton’s behaviour was unbecoming. Surtees, now 80, the only man to win world titles on two and four wheels, said in his column in Motor Sport magazine: “I have no doubt about Lewis Hamilton’s driving ability, but I didn’t like what I saw and heard. I can understand the frustration Lewis must have felt in not having that opportunity on the last lap of qualifying. But I think his reaction to his team-mate and team was wrong.”
Hakkinen, who won two titles with McLaren in 1998 and 1999, believes Hamilton displayed the attitude of a sore loser.
In his column for Hermes, Hakkinen said: “It’s hard to tell if something is going to change significantly [between the drivers]. I don’t know if Lewis would even consider apologising for his behaviour. It is a very individual thing. But, in my opinion, one of the characteristics of a good winner is he also knows how to lose.”
Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff, meanwhile, has downplayed claims the rivalry between the pair is starting to resemble that of champions Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, who were bitter enemies during two seasons together at McLaren in 1988 and 1989.
On the team website, Wolff said: “It’s a job, not a holiday and the drivers need to work with and for the team first of all.
“There have been a lot of comparisons to the Senna/Prost scenario, which is a kind of compliment to both Lewis and Nico.
“But the situation here is very different. It’s an intense relationship but this intensity is normal.
“The racing philosophy of Mercedes-Benz is to allow our drivers to compete.”