The two have been friends and rivals since their early teens,
racing go-karts together and following each other through the junior
series with both winning the GP2 titles in successive years for the
same ART team.
Germany's Rosberg made his F1 debut in 2006, Hamilton followed in
2007 and last year they again became teammates when the Briton
moved from McLaren, the team with which he won the 2008
Rosberg won this year's season-opener in Australia and leads the
championship after two races, 18 points clear of second-placed
Hamilton who triumphed last weekend in Malaysia.
"At the moment it hasn't changed at all," the son of 1982 world
champion Keke Rosberg said at the Bahrain Grand Prix when asked
about the dynamics of their relationship at Mercedes.
"Maybe because we are not thinking about the championship yet, just
race by race really just making the most of what we have, winning
races. So early days, maybe," he told reporters.
Rosberg recognized that could change as the season progresses, but
was not concerned.
"We've been in this situation before. In go-karts we were fighting
for the championship there, it's exactly the same," he said. "A
little bit more people around, more media and spectators but exactly
the same in the end.
"We managed to get through there with respect and I'm confident we
are going to manage again in any circumstance. There will be tough
times, inevitably, but I'm confident we can work through it and we
Very few drivers have real friends on the starting grid, with
teammates the ones they want to beat more than anyone since they have
the same equipment and provide the clearest yardstick to
Some teams have clear hierarchies, such as Ferrari in the Michael
Schumacher era or Red Bull where Sebastian Vettel has been champion
for the past four years, and any 'team orders' in favor of one
driver can trigger resentment and controversy.
Mercedes, whose car is clearly a step ahead of the rest at present,
are being closely watched for signs of fallout between drivers whose
relationship has been hitherto harmonious.
[to top of second column]
Hamilton indicated nobody should be under any illusions about the
"It's very simple," he told reporters. "People are constantly
talking about us being friends and all that stuff.
"Nico and I, as with anyone, can count our friends on one hand. Nico
does not come into those five friends I have, and I don't come in
the five friends he has.
"We're colleagues who have known each other for a long time, longer
than any of the other drivers, and we have a great amount of respect
for one another. We work in the same team and we have a great
"We've raced since we were kids, we've been team-mates, been at the
front of the championship in the past several times in karting and
different championships, and it is no different then as it is now."
While both might be steeling themselves for the future, they were
also reveling in the transformation of their team from runners-up
to front-runners and being a part of that success.
"It's great. I've never had that before in F1 and to come to the
track where I know I've got the best car and can win the race is a
great feeling," said Rosberg.
"To be a part of the whole momentum that we have as a team. It's a
(Editing by John O'Brien)
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