Britain's only other three-time world champion Jackie Stewart slammed Lewis Hamilton's selfishness at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, calling him "a little ballerina" whom Mercedes should cut loose if he refused to follow their orders again.

Hamilton was vying with teammate Nico Rosberg for the title, needing to win and have the German finish fourth or lower if he wanted to add a fourth F1 championship to his resume.

The 31-year-old slowed down when in the lead to try and force Rosberg into a pack with rival cars and prevent him from climbing up the grid, ignoring Mercedes' instructions in the process.

Stewart was not impressed.


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

"You cannot threaten a multinational 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'.

"Now, I am sorry, but when you are paid between £20-30m ($33m-$50m) a year and you are told to do something you have got to do it. I don't care who you are.

"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 a*** off 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."

Hamilton's tactics in the title-deciding Abu Dhabi GP prompted an array of wild back-page headlines in the UK's newspapers on Monday with suggestions Mercedes could look to impose severe sanctions on the triple champion.


However, Toto Wolff had said he had yet to come to a conclusion himself and would take a few days to crystallise in his own mind the rights and wrongs of Hamilton's tactics.

The team boss said "everything is possible" in response, including the possibility that the team could change their own rules in such situations next year. Wolff said he was in "two minds" about the controversy after Hamilton ignored radio instructions to lap faster.

"I can understand why he drove like he drove, that was his instinct. Equally our system has made them both win many races and created this era of dominance," said the Austrian.

"But again, let's discuss it at a later stage, today (Monday AEDT) it is only about Nico."

Hamilton defended his driving, insisting it had been neither unfair nor dangerous, and told Sky F1 he was "looking forward" to the inevitable discussion with Mercedes' management over the winter.

Rosberg said he can understand why Hamilton backed him into Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen in the closing stages of the year's final race.

"I can also understand Lewis because we are drivers, we are fighters until the last metre and it was about the world championship so he decided to try everything he could out there," Rosberg said.

"In a way it is also understandable even if it was very, very tough as a result and it is something I don't think needs to be discussed much."

Hamilton briefly returned to the track in Abu Dhabi for 2017 tyre testing two days after losing the world title to Rosberg in the controversial Duel in the Desert.

At the one-day tyre test featuring Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari, Hamilton completed the early runs before Pascal Wehrlein took over due to the Briton feeling unwell.

The laps he did complete represented Hamilton's first outing on the wider 2017-spec Pirelli tyres. The dethroned world champion joined Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, along with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, in running "mule" cars modified to represent next year's increased downforce levels.

With Rosberg currently in Malaysia for the first of a series of engagements and appearances over the next week to mark his status as 2016's world champion, Hamilton's brief test essentially represented the start of his preparations to win back the drivers' crown next year.

Rosberg tested the 2017 Pirellis at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya in October, a test Hamilton missed with an injured foot.