Nico Rosberg says his relationship with Lewis Hamilton took a nosedive when Mercedes started fighting for race wins and championships.
Nico Rosberg says his relationship with former ‘best friend’ Hamilton started off great when the Briton joined Mercedes in 2013.
“With Lewis coming in, there wasn’t any negativity in my mind,” said Rosberg
“I was looking forward to the challenge because he was a world champion, and by the time he arrived I had won just one single Formula 1 race, and here was the great Lewis Hamilton coming into the team, so again [like with Michael Schumacher] it was very uneven in terms of statistical results in the past.
“But I relished that. I took it on, and I had learned a lot by then. Straight away, from the get-go, I was able to play level field with Lewis all the way through.”
However once the team rose to the top of the grid, their relationship became strained.
“In 2013, it was still pretty much easy-going because we weren’t fighting for race wins, and we used to be best friends, so that was a decent start.
“But then going into 2014, that’s where you noticed because once you are fighting for race wins and championships, there is so much at stake. Your dream is at stake.
“Both of us dreamed of winning the world championship with Mercedes. It’s so big. It’s hard to make compromises, and it’s the friendship that gets compromised, in return for winning races.
“It just went small step by small step, and it just builds up. It was tough.”
Rosberg also provided some details on how good Hamilton was in head-to-head battles.
“The guy is phenomenal in a wheel-to-wheel battle,” explained Rosberg.
“It’s unbelievable how he positions the car so smartly. Whenever I would go up against him, hold my own and fight back, he would always manage to stay in the grey area.
“But whenever I would try, I would straight away jump over the grey area and into the black area, which is not allowed. He would be so skilled at keeping it in the grey area, and never really making it 100% his fault.
“That was a huge strength of his, one of the huge strengths he has of the many.”