World champion Lewis Hamilton has hit back at former team-mate Nico Rosberg on the eve of the new Formula One season, accusing the German of sniping at him to generate attention.
Hamilton took issue with Rosberg’s claim that the British racer had a tendency to be inconsistent and pointed to a run of five wins in six races that swept him to a fourth drivers’ title last year.
“I think I proved that’s not the case last year and I think there’s a lot of people that need to get headlines, and so maybe that’s one way of saying it,” he said ahead of Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix.
Hamilton appeared to make a veiled reference to Rosberg, who retired immediately upon winning his only title in 2016 and is working as a broadcaster this season, later in the same press conference.
“There are those that bow out early, there are those that have won championships maybe that have not been as competitive,” he said. “To be the best, I think you have to go up against the best.”
The 33-year-old can go joint second on the all-time list and equal Juan Manuel Fangio’s five championships if he retains his crown, but Hamilton insists he has given little thought to the prospect.
“It’s a long, long season so you don’t really think about those kind of things. I’m trying to break down new barriers, push the envelope and see how far I can take the opportunity and ability I have and live to my full potential.”