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So we came to where the championship mathematics had put them after 20 races. Nico Rosberg vs Lewis Hamilton, and the maths said the only way the latter could take the title was to simultaneously win the race and compromise Rosberg’s enough to demote him from second to fourth. Hamilton could have chosen not to do that, of course, could’ve proved his point by disappearing into the distance and damn what the points said. But it’s the world championship and Hamilton, as even his dad has pointed out before, is a mercenary.
It’s a team sport. But only up to a point. Here we saw the fault line between a team’s interests and the driver’s, a line that Lewis has tread many times through his career. He drove whole swathes of the race between 1.5-2sec slower than he could have, so as to give the Red Bulls or Ferraris a chance of attacking Rosberg. But in a way that made it impossible for Rosberg to pass him. Pointedly instructed to up the pace, even by team boss Paddy Lowe, Hamilton responded with: “I suggest you just let us race.”