Rosberg “Hopes” to Mend Friendship with Hamilton Before Verstappen’s “Crazy” Comments | F1 | sport
Rosberg named Verstappen his Driver of the Year, after the Dutchman controversially pushed Hamilton to the Drivers’ World Championship last month at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The two were tied on points heading into the last Grand Prix of the season, but Verstappen passed Hamilton on the last lap of the race after a period of safety car to win his first-ever driver’s title. Speaking on his YouTube channel, Rosberg praised the Red Bull driver for denying Hamilton an eighth drivers’ championship record.
He said: “[Verstappen was] just phenomenal.
“The level in qualifying most of the time, the consistency throughout the year, the level he achieved 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 at wheel to wheel racing, but Verstappen, you probably have to say he was even better.
“It’s just crazy. The level also during the most rushed moments. Verstappen almost improves when the pressure is high. I slowed down three tenths when the pressure was on, he’s two tenths faster, it’s crazy.
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“I don’t know how he does it. Verstappen number one.
“If you factor in the bad luck, he probably had a little more bad luck.”
Rosberg was the last driver to beat Hamilton at the World Drivers’ Championship in 2016, after which the German immediately retired.
Although Rosberg has been laudatory about Hamilton since his retirement, frequently heralding the Briton as the greatest of all time, the couple endured a fierce rivalry as Mercedes teammates between 2013 and 2016.
After Mercedes delivered a completely dominant car in 2014, the Drivers’ World Championship turned into a two-horse race, and Hamilton and Rosberg’s childhood friendship turned into a bitter rivalry.
However, Rosberg said in a retired interview that he was eager to mend his relationship with Hamilton.
Speaking to Graham Bensinger Rosberg, he said: “It was important for me to tell him [he was to retire] personally also because of the battle we had and everything.
“First, I just wrote him a message before the actual announcement, and then we got together and chatted about it and went over a few things.
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“It was a nice conversation and I am open to finding our way and even having a good relationship again in the future. Why not?”
Recalling their friendship, Rosberg continued, “It’s a very unique story.
“When we were 14 we were both racing for the same Mercedes Benz-McLaren kart team at the time and we were best friends.
“We went on vacation to Greece, we had dinner and said, ‘Imagine if in 15 years we are in the best Formula 1 team together, racing against each other for the championships. “
“And then 15 years later it happens and it’s pretty crazy.”
The first sign of a bitter feud between Hamilton and Rosberg was when the Briton accused his teammate of deliberately hitting him “to prove a point” at the Belgian Grand Prix in 2014.
As Rosberg tried to pass Hamilton, the two cars collided and the latter driver suffered a flat tire and retired from the race.
Two years later they also faced each other in Austria, with Hamilton controversially securing first place, while in Spain the riders withdrew each other from the race.
While a teammate with Rosberg, Hamilton won two World Drivers’ Championships while Rosberg won the title in 2016.
Together, however, they completely dominated, collectively winning 54 of 78 races over four seasons.