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Button expects Mercedes rivalry

Jenson Button expecs the inter-team rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to hot up in the wake of Mercedes' dominant form.

After Rosberg cruised to victory in the opening race in Australia two weeks ago, Hamilton followed suit in Malaysia on Sunday as he left his rivals trailing in his wake, including the 28-year-old German in second place

For the first time in Hamilton's 131-grand prix career he completed F1's 'grand chelem' of pole position, fastest lap and race win by virtue of leading every lap, such was his superiority.

With Mercedes seemingly in a class of their own at the moment after adapting more rapidly to the new regulations than their rivals, the battle between Hamilton and Rosberg could be a captivating one.

Button certainly feels that will be the case, and told Press Association Sport: "It is too early to say whether one of them will win the world championship this year...at least I hope it's too early to say.

"Mercedes do have a big advantage, and an inter-team battle is always going to be fun when they have that kind of advantage over the rest of the field.

"Let's see what happens. It could help us."

Williams duo Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas offered an insight as to how rivalries can develop within a team after the former ignored orders to allow the latter by in the closing stages of the race.

Massa and Bottas were only squabbling over seventh and eighth, so imagine the increase in tension and pressure when two drivers in the same team are fighting for a championship.

Without doubt some of the greatest title fights in F1 history have involved two drivers from the same team, such as Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet, and even Hamilton himself in 2007 with Fernando Alonso.

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff concedes the drivers have been warned as to their on-track behaviour, although knows the team will not always be able to keep a lid on matters.

"The inter-team rivalry has been there since the beginning, since January last year when Lewis joined us," said Wolff.

"What makes the difference is these two guys have known each other for such a long time, have a fair relationship with each other.

"That doesn't mean they're not extremely competitive and will try to use every advantage they can.

"But what is very important, and we have made it very clear from the beginning, that the team has come from a long way off.

"Look at last season here in Malaysia when we ran into a situation which we didn't manage in the way we should have (when Rosberg was told to stay behind Hamilton) because we were surprised at how competitive we were.

"So we've spent some time discussing those things, scenarios and situations. At the end of the day it's Mercedes and the team comes first.

"One day, though, we will run into controversy, run into situations we have to manage because they are still very competitive creatures."

From Hamilton's perspective, he has dismissed the fact the title fight will simply come down to himself and Rosberg.

With reigning four-times champion Sebastian Vettel third in Malaysia, Red Bull have made considerable strides since their travails in pre-season testing, while Hamilton is far from discounting Ferrari duo Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen.

"It's far too early to rule out anyone else," said Hamilton.

"Sebastian was massively quick, applying pressure to Nico. Looking at their pace their car is just as quick as ours through the corners, they're just a bit slower on the straights.

"I have no doubt at all Renault (Red Bull's engine supplier) is going to fix that, and when they do you are going to see a big race between us and the Bulls.

"They still have a fantastic car and also Ferrari are not too far off as well, so I think it's going to hot up at some point during the year.

"And that's what Formula One is all about, to have close racing like that, but I'll definitely take races like the one I had in Malaysia."