Everyone knows the Russian president does not like being ignored, even for a little while.
Vladimir Putin made an important stop, on Sunday, at Sochi F1 circuit, to congratulate Formula One Grand Prix winner Nico Rosberg. But then things took a turn for the awkward when the racer did everything but give his undivided attention to Putin.
The 30-year-old Mercedes F1 driver, except for a preliminary handshake, quickly dodged the Russian leader’s advances as he entered the room, sought out and shook the hand of third-place racer Kimi Raikkonen and then resumed removing his racing gear — while Putin was left standing like a third wheel.
Once he was sufficiently comfortable, the F1 winner turned to the mostly ignored Putin and formally met with him — but Putin, who apparently felt ignored and insulted, was far from mollified with a simple hand shake.
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After the usual round of greetings, Putin made his ire known with a single statement: “You and your colleagues, sincere thanks to you. Different segments, different sections of this sport have started to develop in Russia and people take pleasure in watching you do your job… if you can call it a job.”
The apparent disregard of his profession made Rosberg release a nervous laugh, but instead of a rebuttal, the F1 winner replied with a charming: “You have some great Russian drivers, as well.”
Despite the cool temperatures backstage, both the Russian president and the F1 winner still managed to do their jobs, with Putin presenting the trophy to Rosberg, who accepted it graciously.