Break in competition does not appear to have thawed frosty relationship between Hamilton and Rosberg
Mercedes internal rivalry back in spotlight as Formula One summer break ends
Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium // All eyes will be on Mercedes at the Belgian Grand Prix as the increasingly tense rivalry between championship leader Nico Rosberg and teammate Lewis Hamilton resumes after a summer break.
Tensions reached boiling point at last month’s Hungarian GP, when Hamilton expressed outrage at being told to allow Rosberg through in a thrilling race. Hamilton refused team orders, invariably costing Rosberg victory, and only 11 points separate the two.
“It was a bit of a mess afterwards, after Hungary, so it’s best that I don’t add too much,” Rosberg said yesterday.
“Now we’re moving forward, but of course I’ve learnt various things from that race which I will try to adapt to in the future.”
There had also been friction between them earlier this season at the Monaco GP, with Hamilton infuriated after Rosberg crashed late in qualifying, prompting the safety car to come out and denying Hamilton what looked like a certain pole position.
Rosberg won it from pole and the atmosphere between them was frosty on the podium.
“If there is any unclear air, it will be cleared before the weekend starts, for sure,” Hamilton said ahead of Friday’s first practice session. “I think it’s very clear for me. I’m not sure it’s the same the other side.”
Although Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo won in Hungary, Hamilton’s brilliant drive helped him finish third after starting from 22nd on the grid and close the gap on Rosberg, who finished a disappointing fourth despite starting from pole.
Hamilton, the 2008 F1 champion, has demonstrated remarkable skill in recent races. The Briton finished third at the German GP from 20th on the grid and he won the British GP starting from sixth for his 27th career victory.
Mercedes have won nine of 11 races – Ricciardo has claimed the other two for Red Bull – and Hamilton edges Rosberg 5-4 in wins. But two retirements have cost the British driver valuable points, although Rosberg retired at the British GP.
Hamilton said he needed the summer break more than ever after his efforts left him feeling physically and emotionally drained.
“The break comes at a good time for everyone, but for me I think more so than in other seasons,” he said. “To come through those experiences and to come back out on a high note took a lot of energy.”
While Hamilton spent last year’s summer break getting into exceptional physical shape, he took it easy this time.
“I just embraced the break and tried to enjoy it. I didn’t think a single thought on racing through that period of time,” he said.
“I feel amazing going into the second part of the season. I don’t know what’s ahead of me or what I’m going to face, but having those experiences so far and the support of the fans and family, I feel like I can face anything.”
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