Nico Rosberg admits 'me against him' title duel will put strain on Hamilton relations
"I didn't see it as too unusual," admits Rosberg on Monaco
By James Galloway in Montreal. Last Updated: 06/06/14 11:06am
Nico Rosberg has admitted that the high stakes at play in his battle for supremacy with Lewis Hamilton does make it more challenging for the team-mates to remain on friendly terms - but doesn't think there was anything "too unusual" with the tension between them in Monaco.
A fortnight on from the clear public unease that developed between the Mercedes pair at F1's blue-riband event as they again waged a private duel for honours at the front of the field, both Hamilton and Rosberg made clear attempts to move on from the events of Monte Carlo on the opening day of activity in Canada.
Drawing a large media presence to his Thursday briefing in the Montreal paddock, a relaxed-looking Rosberg said the aftermath of the last race had been no different to how he and Hamilton had dealt with tense situations when they were teenage team-mates in karting.
"I didn't see it as too unusual," the World Championship leader said.
"We've always had periods where it was more difficult and then we have that base respect which goes back 15 years and that's the important one. As a result we always then discuss things and move on. That's how it's been this time too."
Asked if he was still surprised to hear Hamilton describe them as 'friends' given the Briton has in the past played down the closeness of their relationship, Rosberg replied: "It's not changed in any way, it's still the same as it used to be.
"But of course it's more difficult, that's clear. We're fighting every single race weekend, it's me against him and there's nobody else. So that definitely makes it more difficult and there's more at stake. There is the opportunity of winning the championship this year - that is the ultimate goal in racing - so there's a lot at stake."
Rosberg, who in a separate interview with the official F1 website on Thursday said he and Hamilton had "a respectful - and neutral - relationship", added: "Am I surprised that we have certain difficulties early on when we're fighting for every race win? No.
"They have always been there and even back in go-karting we had difficulties, even then we were racing every time for the race win."
While the title rivals' have put questions of acrimony behind them for now, the inescapable rub for both is that Mercedes' current total domination of F1 makes it more likely that further flash-points will develop as the pressure ratchets up later in the campaign.
It looks likely to be Hamilton v Rosberg again in Canada this weekend
Although Rosberg stopped short of saying that waging a championship fight with an in-house rival was more challenging than against an external one, simply saying the dynamics were "different", he acknowledged that it was a battle between both sides of the Mercedes garage.
"Often when one comes up with a really cool, creative idea the other guy will see it immediately, so that's a pity sometimes," he admitted. "If you're racing someone else from another team they don't see it immediately and you can really get an advantage from it."
However, Rosberg acknowledged that they would only hurt the team's interests were they to ever run into each other on the circuit.
"It's a tiny bit more caution because it is the team-mate. I was in the factory driving the simulator, talking to everybody and discussing a little bit and for them the constructors' [championship] is so important," he said.
"If we take each other out, for all our team members and colleagues that would be a disaster. So that is always there in the mind because we're a big team and I do think about everybody else too."
The significant detail lost in much of the post-Monte Carlo analysis was that Rosberg had succeeded in his pre-weekend aim of halting Hamilton's winning run - which stretched to four races - and regaining the lead of the World Championship.
"That was definitely one important thing, I had to stop that rhythm," Rosberg acknowledged.
"I put a stop to it, which is important. Definitely [Rosberg feels] higher than before - that's clear and that helps. Just something a little bit extra in the back of the mind."