Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg believes that he and Lewis Hamilton can return to being good friends after three tension packed years as teammates in the dominant Mercedes team, which saw their relationship deteriorate as they battled for grand prix victories and world titles.
Asked by BBC about the rivalry, Rosberg replied, “For sure it was very intense, but its normal because we are within one team, we have the best car, we are fighting for race wins all the time, fighting for the world championship for three years in a row… So for sure it’s going to be a difficult situation.”
Hamilton won the world title in 2014 and 2015, with Rosberg runner-up, but this year the 31 year old German claimed his first champion’s crown after a tense incident packed season, which culminated in a nail biting finale under the lights of Yas Marina Circuit.
Contentious incidents included a coming together on the first lap of the Spanish Grand Prix which resulted in a DNF for the pair. In Austria they collided on the final lap and throughout the season tensions were palpable in the Mercedes garage as the feud intensified on and off the track.
“There were some ups and downs,” recalled Rosberg. “But what really helped us through these times was the base respect we still have when we were really good friends in the karting days when we were like 14 years old. I think that got us through all this in a decent way and now we can even have a laugh together at the moment.”
With Rosberg retiring the contest they have endured since their teens is now over and Rosberg believes this could pave the way to rebuild their friendship.
“Who knows? In the future we might get on well again. We’ve had a few nice conversations [after the title was decided] and it was nice to see some kind words from him, which is cool.”
“Of course beating Lewis makes it even more special for me because he is one of the best out there. A great rival and a very, very tough competitor, so it just sweetens it that little bit more,” added Rosberg.
Asked if the retirement was for the long term, the sport’s newest World Champion was adamant, “For sure, it is definite. It is not an easy step. It is a big change, but it feels right.”