F1 Monaco Grand Prix: 'Nico Rosberg and I aren’t friends,' reveals Lewis Hamilton after his Mercedes team-mate seals controversial victory

Rosberg also leapfrogged Hamilton in the drivers' standings

The two Mercedes team-mates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton barely acknowledged one another as they stood in front of Prince Albert’s royal box on the finish line in Monaco, moments after Rosberg had built upon the controversial pole position he had taken the previous afternoon to beat Hamilton by 9.2sec.

If you studied their body language, the relationship was cool, in the most distant sense of the word. There was no eye contact, congratulatory handshake or embrace.

Rosberg suggested that things had been sorted between them prior to the start. “It’s fine. We’ve had discussions and the benefit we have is that we’ve known each other for so long. We always sit down and discuss it and then move on and that’s what we’re doing this weekend also.”

Hamilton, however, didn’t seek a sugarcoating in the name of corporate harmony and admitted that there was no warmth between the pair. “We are not friends. We are colleagues,” he said.

He admitted that he and Rosberg had sat down with team bosses Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff, the same Lauda who recently suggested that once his men got to the point where one of them will be crowned champion, he didn’t mind whether they drove over each other. That day is still a while away despite the fifth Mercedes 1-2 of the season, but in the meantime they remain free to race with the proviso that contact wouldn’t be a good thing. Hamilton had seemed to threaten that when he said he would deal with the situation the way that Ayrton Senna might have, but wiser counsel appeared to have prevailed by the time the race started.

 

“I think we run things successfully,” he said of their relationship, “but it’ll never be perfect. You can’t expect to be best friends and fight as fiercely as we do. Niki keeps saying that we must inevitably collide, but we’ve done a good job up until now.”

Unlike MotoGP rivals Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, it’s doubtful that Mercedes will divide their garage with a notional wall. It has emerged that Rosberg completed his post-qualifying debriefing before Hamilton arrived on Saturday evening. “I was in there. I went to the toilet and Nico did his big debrief before I got there which is unusual. Usually we do it when we’re both in the same room but as I came up I did mine and fortunately the engineers had written down what Nico had said so I read it,” Hamilton revealed. They still share data.

“Generally, there is a fierce battle between me and Nico and it will continue that way I’m sure until quite late in the season. He’s not had a single hiccup through the season so far. Obviously I had a car that didn’t finish in Melbourne but otherwise it’s still quite close, so I’m just going to keep my head up, keep pushing. I know the team are working hard for the both of us. They can sometimes be in awkward positions, which they were yesterday, and their job is really to protect us both. And that’s what they did.

“I think what we are seeing between Nico and me just comes from competition. One goes one way, the other goes another. I’ve had a difficult weekend, but what doesn’t break you makes you stronger.”

Both men denied various media stories in which they had allegedly made comments about the other’s lifestyle and upbringing, though none of it was very convincing.

Whatever they had has been strained to the point where the trust is breaking down. Perhaps it was as inevitable as it was with Senna or Alain Prost at McLaren, or Hamilton and Fernando Alonso there years later.

When you look at what’s at stake – a world championship – and the pressures surrounding two athletes of similar talent and commitment, could it really be any other way?

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