The tension between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg is continuing to simmer on the back boiler.
The pot boiled over spectacularly in Monaco, where Briton Hamilton’s behaviour was slammed by the media as a ‘tantrum’ in the wake of Rosberg’s controversial qualifying mistake.
It is widely thought team chairman Niki Lauda, a triple world champion with famously vast experience of driver rivalries, stepped in.
But Hamilton told Bild newspaper in Austria: “Niki does less for our relationship than everyone thinks.
“I’ve known Nico since I was 13,” he said. “If there are problems, we’ll talk — the team doesn’t have to tell us.”
Asked, however, if Lauda phoned him after the Monaco saga, Hamilton admitted: “He sent me a text message. Then I called him and told him that I did want to talk to Nico.
“Nico and I spoke and now everything is good — which pleases Niki, of course,” he smiled.
And Toto Wolff, Mercedes team boss, said smiling is a better tactic for Hamilton than was his Monaco tantrum.
“Lewis has learned that a sad face does nothing for his image,” he is quoted by Kleine Zeitung newspaper.
Still, the tension continues to simmer. Rosberg said before travelling to Austria that he thinks his last two results have given him the psychological “edge” over Hamilton.
On Thursday, Hamilton hit back: “It’s positive he feels that way, even for me.
“If he is feeling that way and I beat him anyway, that’s even better for me.”
He rejected the theory that Rosberg has managed to pull out a 22-point championship lead due to driving “smarter” — for instance by more successfully nursing an ailing Mercedes car two weeks ago in Canada.
“Anyone who says that doesn’t know the facts,” Hamilton hit back.
“I had more problems with my car because I had less fresh air (for cooling) — Nico was in more air and so he went to the end,” he explained.
Smarter or not, F1 legend Sir Stirling Moss on Thursday said he would put his money on Hamilton.
“Without a doubt, Lewis is the fastest in formula one,” he said at a Maserati event in Italy.
“It’s a great battle with Nico, because the German is consistent, makes few mistakes, is good with the mechanics — but Hamilton is undoubtedly faster. I have no doubt about that,” Moss insisted. (GMM)