Sir Jackie Stewart says Mercedes should punish 'little ballerina' Lewis Hamilton

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Sir Jackie Stewart has labelled Lewis Hamilton a "little ballerina" for his tactics at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which he believes warranted a punishment from Mercedes.

In the closing stages of the championship showdown, a desperate Hamilton attempted to back Nico Rosberg into Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen in a bid to win the title by pushing his rival out of podium contention. The tactic failed and left Mercedes in two minds about whether to punish Hamilton, who ignored a team order from executive director (technical) Paddy Lowe to speed up in the closing stages.

Hamilton's driving has been defended by Red Bull boss Christian Horner and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, though Sebastian Vettel accused the Mercedes driver of employing "dirty tricks". Stewart thinks his fellow countryman and three-time world champion deserves to be punished.

"I think he [Hamilton] can be a little ballerina," Stewart told the Press Association. "Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda are not stupid people, and neither is the Mercedes chairman who often comes to grands prix.

"You cannot threaten a multi-national corporation of that size by one man who is just not doing it the right way. Give him the option of 'either do it our way or you have to be excused'."

Stewart says Hamilton, the best-paid driver in Formula One, has no excuse for disobeying a team order, even if a world championship is at stake.

"Lewis was refusing their instructions, and he was going against the management team. Now, I am sorry, but when you are paid between 20 and 30 million pounds a year and you are told to do something you have got to do it. I don't care who you are."

Though Mercedes is unsure how to deal with Hamilton's actions, Stewart thinks the punishment should be meaningful enough to deter him from doing anything similar again.

"It is not the first time he has gone against instructions, and if he is going to continue to do that they have the choice of dropping him. He only does 21 races a year. It is no big deal. We worked our asses off [in the old days] to make decent money, and they don't even do much testing now.

"Mercedes may just give him another heavy warning, but if they do that they would then have to say 'this is what is going to happen the next time you disobey orders'. Another way would be to penalise him financially."