Monaco GP Paper Review: Hamilton versus Rosberg becoming 'best soap opera on telly'
Public opening of in-house Mercedes hostilities dissected post Monaco
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 26/05/14 1:09pm
The breakdown in relations between Mercedes team-mates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg has proved the dominant talking point in the British press in the wake of the dramatic Monaco GP weekend.
Despite achieving Mercedes' fifth consecutive one-two finish in Sunday's street race, the atmosphere between Rosberg Hamilton could not have been frostier on the podium as they collected their respective first and second-place trophies at the end of F1's most prestigious race.
The race was set against the backdrop of Saturday's qualifying controversy involving Rosberg and Kevin Eason, a guest on this week's F1 Midweek Report, in The Times declared: 'After this, Formula 1 is only an unwanted pregnancy and a murder away from becoming the best soap opera on telly.
"The podium ceremony had been a toe-curling snapshot of tension. While Prince Albert presented the golden winner's trophy to Rosberg, Hamilton escaped without a handshake or a slap on the back for his team-mate. He handed the champagne over to his waiting mechanics.'
The edginess between the pair didn't escape the attention of Jonathan McEvoy in The Daily Mail either: 'Lewis Hamilton could not even bring himself to look at Nico Rosberg, the winner of the Monaco Grand Prix.
'Neither put his arm around the other's shoulder for the podium pictures. They then travelled back to the paddock press conference in separate minibuses. They sat on the dais side by side without so much as a glance at each other. The two World Championship contenders are not talking in private or public.'
But rather than condemning either driver for the rupture, Oliver Brown in The Daily Telegraph said F1 should be welcoming the onset of a rivalry which the newspaper termed the 'finest in decades'.
Neither Mercedes driver acknowledged each other on the podium
'Before we decry him [Hamilton] for such sullen indignation, we ought perhaps to reflect that we cannot have it both ways. It is impossible to demand greater hostility from Mercedes' duelling title-chasers at the same time as insisting that the beaten man engages in the meaningless rigmarole of a podium handshake,' Brown wrote.
'Any great sporting rivalry depends on polarised personalities, brought into conflict by a smouldering fit of pique. And this is patently Formula 1's finest rivalry in decades.'
And with a Mercedes double in the 2014 championship already looking nailed on following a 100% winning start to the season, The Guardian said Hamilton versus Rosberg was still set to provide the season with a compelling narrative.
'The Monaco Grand Prix, the most exuberant party in Formula 1, has a habit of delivering anticlimax. In purely racing terms this was another - the front three on the grid finished in that order, with little chance of change,' wrote Paul Weaver.
'And yet nothing will be quite the same this season. The rest of the 2014 season will be all about Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, one of whom will be crowned world champion, but not any time soon.
'Mercedes, 141 points ahead of Red Bull in the constructors' race, have got that title sewn up too. But there is so much to play for, and the growing intensity of the rivalry between the two leading protagonists has brought to life what might have been another mundane contest.'
But what of Hamilton's mindset heading into the summer races after losing the lead of the championship back to Rosberg?
Following Niki Lauda's suggestion that Hamilton's girlfriend, Nicole Scherzinger, had a pivotal role to play in get him over the frustration of the weekend before the next race in Canada, The Times said the Briton had been subjected to a 'psychological battering at the hands of his team-mate' in Monaco.
Daniel Johnson in The Daily Telegraph, meanwhile, opined: 'Still smarting at what he clearly believes was Rosberg's transgression in Saturday qualifying - the body language and the cryptic, monosyllabic answers confirm as much - Hamilton momentarily lost his mind here, not to mention his lead in the world championship.
'It is his sole remaining vulnerability. He is the driver that on almost every day no one can beat, yet he is totally capable of beating himself.'