Hamilton: 'We're not friends'
The gloves have officially been taken off at Mercedes after an angry Lewis Hamilton denied that he was friends with Nico Rosberg in the wake of the German regaining the lead of the World Championship by winning the Monaco GP.
Simmering with indignation after being denied a final run to snatch pole position in Saturday's controversial qualifying session and, a day later, an opportunity to , Hamilton has signalled that his friendship with the German, which dates back to their adolescence, is now over.
"We are not friends," Hamilton told Sky Sports F1. "We are colleagues."
Hamilton and Rosberg have repeatedly insisted that their friendship would survive the aggravation and stress of fighting each other for the World Championship.
"We've always been friends, we always will be friends," Rosberg later told Sky F1. "But friends is a big word. What exactly is friends? We have a good relationship and work well together."
The pair failed to acknowledge each other following the race, 24 hours after Hamilton refused to offer Rosberg the benefit of the doubt when the German secured pole position in highly controversial circumstances with his last-lap error preventing his team-mate completing his final lap in the most important qualifying session of the season.
Rosberg's 'hollow' Saturday victory paved the way for his second lights-to-flag victory in a year around the ultra-tight confines of Monte Carlo as Hamilton failed to find a way around the sister Mercedes.
"I had great pace and felt very strong but it's a very difficult place to overtake," added Hamilton.
But it's the simmering antagonism between the two Mercedes drivers which is threatening to overtake all the other talking points in the sport - although talking to each other is the one thing that Hamilton and Rosberg, but particularly Hamilton, appear determined to avoid.
"I don't really have an answer for that," replied Hamilton when asked during the post-race press conference if he planned to sit down with Rosberg in a bid to clear the air.
"He said his thing in a meeting with Toto [Wolff] and Niki [Lauda], and I said what I needed to say and that's as far as we need to go really."
Hamilton also confirmed that he wasn't present on Saturday evening when Rosberg delivered his post-qualifying debrief to the Mercedes team.
"I went to the toilet and Nico did his big debrief before I got there which is unusual," he revealed. "Usually we do it when we're both in the same room but as I came up I did mine and fortunately the engineers had written down what Nico had said so I read it."
It's understood that Rosberg apologised to Hamilton on Sunday morning for blocking his final lap during qualifying, while it also emerged on race day that Hamilton himself said sorry to Rosberg in Spain two weeks ago after running with a higher engine setting than had been pre-agreed prior to the grand prix.