SUZUKA, Japan -- Nico Rosberg has played down suggestions his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton was distracted by off-track events at the Japanese Grand Prix.
Hamilton was at the centre of the media's attention in Suzuka as he returned to the paddock just one week after suffering a costly engine failure at the Malaysian Grand Prix. He was criticised by some members of the press for playing on Snapchat during Thursday's FIA press conference and on Saturday reacted by walking out of his media session after a short statement.
From the outside some observers interpreted Hamilton's exchanges with the media as proof he was losing focus, but behind the Mercedes garage walls Rosberg saw his teammate in a different light.
"First of all I don't know any of these things because I don't see them during a race weekend and I don't know what is going on [with Hamilton's relationship with the media], but I can tell you that behind the scenes he's been as focused as ever, which he always is and especially after a setback like Malaysia," Rosberg said. "He was working the longest hours I have seen him work in many months trying to get the little extra bit of lap time. I've seen him extremely motivated and focused."
Asked by one journalist if he took any encouragement from Hamilton's "apparent self-destruction", Rosberg said: "I haven't seen any self-destruction and the Lewis I saw was massively motivated and focused. I don't see Lewis' media, I know what I'm doing on a race weekend and it's about getting the best out of myself and not focusing on what Lewis' state of mind is."