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Is Hamilton playing mind games?

Sky Sports logo Sky Sports 14-07-2016 skysports.com

Sutton Images © Provided by BSkyB Sutton Images Lewis Hamilton is "crushing" Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg both on and off the track, according to Sky F1's Marc Priestley. 

Following his emphatic win at the British Grand Prix, Hamilton is just one point behind Rosberg in the standings and has made it clear he thinks he has the edge over his title rival. 

Speaking on Sky Sports News HQ ahead of this week's F1 Report, Priestley said: "I definitely think he's playing a psychological game.

"As well as crushing Rosberg in the car and on track, some of the comments he comes out with in the media are certainly playing towards that."

Speaking to Sky Sports F1 after qualifying on Saturday, Hamilton said: "When you come round and get pole it's a mental blow to whoever you are racing against and I wanted that."

Hamilton's first flying lap in Q3 was void after he exceeded the track limits, but the world champion knew he had the better of Rosberg.

"When it got taken away, it was cool, because I knew that I had it. Nico knew I had that pace and it wasn't a small little gap, it was a good gap," he told Sky Sports. 

Priestley believes it will be tough for Rosberg to completely ignore this type of pressure: "Nico, so far at least, has handled it very well.

"He's still putting on a very brave face but it's got to be very difficult not to let it start eating away at you, especially as he's seen such a big championship lead start to slip away from him."

Sutton Images © Provided by BSkyB Sutton Images

Rosberg's lead has been cut to just one point after he was demoted from second to third at Silverstone following Mercedes' punishment for illegal radio messages. 

Just five races ago, the German had a lead of 43 points over Hamilton and the interaction between the two in the cool-down room at Silverstone made for intriguing viewing.

Hamilton ignored Rosberg and instead decided to ask Red Bull's Max Verstappen how he got ahead of his Mercedes team-mate, ending the conversation by telling the Dutchman, "you drove well, mate".

This prompted Sky F1's Martin Brundle to comment afterwards: "The love-in we heard about doesn't exist. That was as frosty as it's going to get."

In the post-race interviews, Sky Sports News HQ's Craig Slater asked Hamilton if he was now favourite to win the title, to which he responded "I'm my favourite".

Hamilton then went on to say: "I don't know if it makes me favourite. I'm still the world champion so it's all about acting and driving like one.

"We've got a penalty that we're going to have to take at some stage, hopefully after the break.

"Even the race that I'm going to end up starting last I'm going to be chasing him down like crazy to see if I can still race with him and still get the win." 

Hamilton's behaviour after the British Grand Prix also captured the attention of this week's F1 Report guest, former McLaren driver John Watson, who wants to see more drivers entertaining the crowds the way Hamilton did on Sunday.

"He looked to me to be a rock star not a Grand Prix driver crowd surfing, and I don't think I've ever seen that occur at a Grand Prix before," said Watson.

"To have that presence of mind and to know how to work the crowd as he did successfully and to throw himself in, that's what the public want.

"Formula 1 has become a bit precious in the way the paddock behaves following success. What Silverstone was more about was the public getting engaged and feeling like they were a part of that victory."


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