Lewis Hamilton was back at the centre of attention again on Thursday when he arrived in the paddock of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve to face questions about his rivalry with Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg.
Appearing at a routine pre-race news conference, the 29-year-old Briton made light of suggestions that the pairâ€™s relationship was damaged and stressed that they were friends â€˜just as they always had beenâ€™.
Looking calm and relaxed ahead of this weekendâ€™s Canadian Grand Prix in which he hopes to win again to regain the lead in the driversâ€™ world championship, Hamilton said they had cleared the air in talks after the Monaco Grand Prix.
“Me and Nico spoke, with the team and individually,” he said, adding that their apparent fallout in Monte Carlo was “no different to others we have had in many years of racing together”.
Hamilton had suggested that Rosberg had deliberately left the track, prompting yellow flags, during the final minutes of qualifying at the Monaco Grand Prix.
The incident meant 28-year-old German Rosberg started the race from pole position, after a brief stewardsâ€™ inquiry had cleared him of any wrong-doing. But Hamilton simmered with resentment throughout the weekend and suggested their friendship was over.
On Thursday, however, Hamilton insisted that there are no lingering tensions with Rosberg as they resume battle at this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.
“We spoke after the race and, like friends, we have ups and downs,” said Hamilton, who trails Rosberg by four points in the title race. “We have known each other for a long time and it is done and dusted.
“We look forward to working together to help the team win the constructors’ championship.”
Mercedes held a team dinner in Montreal on Wednesday when both drivers attended. Hamilton said the atmosphere in the team is upbeat and positive and not affected by the driversâ€™ rivalry.
“Collectively with the team, me and Nico spoke and we individually spoke to the team, nothing has really changed,” he said. “The team has done a great job in supporting us in the way it is run with Paddy (Lowe) and Toto (Wolff). Their support for both of us is great.
“We are full steam ahead. We had dinner together with the team yesterday and things are better. We are going from strength to strength. People have ups and downs so it is no different from years we have been racing together.”