HOCKENHEIM, Germany, August 1- Nico Rosberg says he was ‘surprised’ to be handed a penalty for his clash with Max Verstappen midway through the German GP.
Rosberg had qualified on pole at Hockenheim, but fell to fourth place – behind Hamilton and the Red Bull pair of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen – into Turn One before later being penalised as he attempted to claw his way back into contention.
The German was handed a five-second penalty by the stewards after what was deemed an unfair overtake on Verstappen during lap 29.
“I thought it was a good battle [with Verstappen] and I was very surprised I got penalised,” said Rosberg.
“I didn’t expect that at all.”
Verstappen, however, was adamant that Rosberg forced him off the track at the hairpin.
“He braked really late. When he came next to me, he just didn’t turn in – it was a bit like in Austria. He forced me off the track,” he said. “I could still see his hands going straight so l don’t know if that is full lock.”
The Dutchman added to Sky Sports News HQ: “He did a good move into the corner but it was already very deep. But he just doesn’t turn in or give space on the exit – and that’s not fair. I race hard and on the limit but I always give space on the exit – that’s the difference.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner described Rosberg’s move as “a bit naughty”.
“The problem is [Rosberg] did a pretty bad job of it,” he told Sky Sports F1. “The golden rule in a job like that is lock your fronts up and look as if you can’t stop. The problem is he looked like he was driving to Cologne, and that’s a bit naughty.
“They’re the rules, that’s what the stewards deemed so I’m not going to complain today.”
Things went from bad to worse for Rosberg as his five-second penalty ended up costing him eight seconds after a mix-up with his team in the pits, although he didn’t believe he could have caught up with the Red Bulls again anyway.
“It’s just one more of those things when a day goes completely wrong, and all those things come together,” the German driver said. “I don’t think it made a difference in the end because I don’t think I could have challenged the Red Bulls after that penalty.”