Lewis Hamilton hits back at Nico Rosberg’s ‘soft’ criticism after French Grand Prix

F1: Can Lewis Hamilton do it again?

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Lewis Hamilton has responded to his former team-mate Nico Rosberg’s criticism after the French Grand Prix that saw the Briton’s main title rival Max Verstappen crowned winner in Paul Ricard.

Verstappen recovered from an early mistake on the opening lap after he went wide at turn two and allowed the seven-time world champion to sweep past him to take the lead.

But it was lap 20 that saw the story of the race change after Red Bull pitted Verstappen for a new fresh set of tyres, a strategy Mercedes hadn’t anticipated or covered off, with Hamilton and his team-mate Valtteri Bottas sitting ducks on older tyres in the latter part of the race.

Re-emerging from the pit lane in fourth, Verstappen carved his way through the field and reeled in Hamilton before finally passing the seven-time world champion to claim the win.

After the race, Rosberg claimed: “Unusual from Lewis… I mean close the damn door, no?

“Usually, Lewis is the best one-to-one racer and I’m surprised Lewis didn’t at least try – try and brake late, keep it on the outside. A little bit soft from Lewis there.

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Had Hamilton managed to hold on to the win, he would have reclaimed the lead of the championship standings by two points over the Dutchman in his quest to become an eight-time world champion.

However, the Mercedes driver hit back at the German and reminded Rosberg how ‘pointless’ it would’ve been to defend.

“Firstly, there’s marbles on the inside, so I didn’t want to make my tyres any worse than they already were,” Hamilton said when explaining his actions as Verstappen swept past him for the lead of the race.

“He had the DRS open, so if he didn’t pass me there, he would have passed me the straight afterwards, so it would have made zero difference and I just had no front end, so he would have got me either way.

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“It was pointless to defend any harder. I think you saw what happened to Valtteri – just ended up going straight on.

“So, there was no point messing up the tyres anymore.

“Two-stop, probably… two-stop would potentially have done the job but it was not on the cards at all for us, so we’ll do some analysis and try to figure out why.”

Verstappen now leads the standings by 12 points, with Red Bull enjoying a 37-point gap over Mercedes in the team standings.

There is little respite for teams and drivers with another two races in Austria in quick succession.

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