The 28 year old cut a solemn figure as Nico Rosberg – a childhood friend and new teammate – was denied glory, despite driving the quicker of the team's two cars, after being told not to overtake by his team.
Humble Lewis Hamilton keeps celebrations low-key after third-place finish in Malaysian Grand Prix
Tropical downpours historically add drama to the country's annual grand prix in Sepang, but while the stormy weather largely failed to materialise yesterday, the old saying of "it never rains but it pours" proved true. Talk of team orders dominated the podium as all three men noted they deserved to be in different positions.
Lewis Hamilton finished third, behind Vettel and Mark Webber, to take his first podium since joining Mercedes-GP. The 28 year old, however, cut a solemn figure as Rosberg - a childhood friend and new teammate - was denied glory, despite driving the quicker of the team's two cars.
Hamilton had muscled his way into third as the contest neared its 56-lap climax, but the 2008 world champion had fuel concerns to contend with and managing tyre wear was, as ever, proving pivotal. While Hamilton slowed down, Rosberg, behind and in better condition, closed the gap and asked his team repeatedly for permission to pass. He was denied.
"I'll remember this one," Rosberg said, his frustration obvious.
Hamilton acknowledged he had benefited from the team decision and showed great humility in his low-key podium celebration.
"I don't feel spectacular," he said. "Obviously, Nico deserved to be where I am right now, but the team thought that, I guess, with the position in the championship, perhaps it was logical to stay in the positions we were in. Nico drove a much smarter and much more controlled race than I did."
Rosberg, who has seven podiums from 130 starts, had calmed down by the time he spoke of "a team effort". The 27 year old added: "For the team to want us to bring it home third and fourth is fully understandable and I know if it had been the other way around, they would've done the same thing. There will be times to fight between teammates in the future."
Hamilton suggested he would be willing to gift Rosberg a podium at a later race, but his teammate called it unnecessary.
"It's nice to hear him say that," Rosberg said. "It was fair play from me. I wouldn't say they owe me one because I understand: I drive for Mercedes and the guys at home who put their life into building the cars. Of course there's a small side of me that wants to go flat-out all the way to the end and be the one on the podium, but the time will come for that."
Mercedes' team principal Ross Brawn said the decision was to ensure both cars finished third and fourth, yet he refused to consider allowing the drivers to switch positions. Hamilton, it is understood, was told strictly not to consider the option.
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