As Nico Rosberg hit back at Lewis Hamilton with victory in Mexico, the enmity between the pair was clear to see as they reluctantly shook hands.
“I’m not going to comment on that. I’ll let you judge,” the German said.
Many put the renewed tension down to the fact that, with his new title crown only just fitted, Hamilton simply did not enjoy being beaten.
“Rosberg has what it takes to take on Hamilton,” Italy’s Corriere dello Sport surmised after Mexico. And Spain’s Diario Sport added: “Rosberg ended the tyranny of Hamilton.”
Also clear is that Hamilton was not happy to have been ordered into the pits whilst arguing that his tyres were still good.
And it was not only the Briton who suspected it cost him victory, as Spain’s El Mundo said it looked like “a gift from Mercedes” to Rosberg.
“Mercedes did not let Hamilton choose the strategy, therefore protecting Rosberg,” the sports daily Marca added.
Speaking to British reporters on Monday, Hamilton agreed: “The team has felt the need to be extra warm (to Rosberg).
“I know what I mean, but I’m not going to say. You should ask Toto (Wolff) and Niki (Lauda) how they feel about it. About what they have to do behind the scenes to keep him happy,” the triple world champion added.
Team chairman and F1 legend Lauda, however, insists Rosberg’s victory was well deserved.
“I congratulate him that he has fought back from where he was before. In all respects, he was better than Lewis in Mexico,” he said.
At the same time, rumours have emerged that not all is well in the relationship between team boss Wolff and Lauda.
After Mexico, as Lauda conducted interviews with the media, Wolff reportedly called off his post-race press duties and rushed out of the circuit.
A Mercedes PR chief hinted at the discord by insisting that Lauda is not an official team spokesman.
“Sources have told The Times that Lauda is considering quitting the team, possibly as soon as the end of the season,” the London-based newspaper said. (GMM)