Rivals Hamilton and Rosberg at peace despite crash in Spain

AP News
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Posted: May 25, 2016 1:53 PM
Rivals Hamilton and Rosberg at peace despite crash in Spain

MONACO (AP) — In a rare show of unity so absent during their previous bouts of feuding, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg brushed aside any talk of tension in the wake of their crash at the Spanish Grand Prix two weeks ago.

They collided on the first lap in Barcelona, both spinning out of the race. The lost points were far more costly for Hamilton, who trails Rosberg by 43 points after five races, but the defending Formula One champion seems to be well over it.

"We spoke to each other today, and no problem," Hamilton said in the Mercedes motorhome on Wednesday ahead of this weekend's Monaco GP. "In the past there would have been some kind of tension, but it was just pure respect."

Hamilton and Rosberg grew up racing karts against each other and became firm friends in their teenage years — only for that friendship to be severely tested two years ago.

First of all, Hamilton was irate when Rosberg appeared to deliberately go off track late in qualifying to deny him pole position at the Monaco GP. The tension reached breaking point three months later at the Belgian GP in Spa, when Hamilton accused Rosberg of deliberately barging into him with a risky overtaking move.

This time, efforts from both drivers has prevented any recurrence of that heated bickering.

"It's a showing of growth within Nico and I," Hamilton said. "I said 'I still have all the respect for you', and he said the same. So let's just keep racing."

Mercedes' head of motorsport Toto Wolff was angry with both drivers for the spectacular crash, and perhaps this has served to actually bring them together.

"It's always good to discuss things," Hamilton said. "It's always good to (talk), but I don't feel we had to because there is no issue."

The crash in Spain ended Rosberg's seven-race winning run — the first four races this season and the last three of 2015 — but he skirted around the incident.

Rosberg, who was speaking at the pre-race news conference on Wednesday shortly before Hamilton spoke, said this should be handled "internally" because "we're trying to keep a good spirit" in the Mercedes camp.

However, like Hamilton, he insisted that there is no animosity.

"What I can say is that between the two of us it's a thing of the past," the German driver said. "We move on."