LEWIS Hamilton insists he has cleared the air with team-mate Nico Rosberg, but in the aftermath of the Monaco Grand Prix there was an overwhelming feeling that a degree of toxicity remained.
The atmosphere on the podium was positively poisonous after Hamilton finished runner-up to Rosberg, with the German securing back-to-back lights-to-flag wins around the streets of the principality to end the Briton’s run of four successive wins.
Forget a polite nod of acknowledgement or even a terse “well done”, there was not even a glance from one to the other at any stage.
It was as if they were complete strangers rather than Mercedes colleagues who had just secured a record-equalling fifth one-two.
Without doubt Hamilton appeared thoroughly outraged at what he saw as an injustice during qualifying when Rosberg, on provisional pole, out-braked himself into Mirabeau in the closing stages.
The resultant yellow flags then thwarted Hamilton’s bid for pole as the 29-year-old following behind was on a quicker lap and would likely have claimed top spot on the grid.
Although Hamilton was rarely more than a second off Rosberg from the start of the blue-riband race, for the first 60 out of the 78 laps he did not have a single chance to overtake.
A problem with his left eye then led to him falling behind the Germanand almost into the clutches of RedBull’s Daniel Ricciardo who hounded Hamilton over the closing stages, but the Australian had to settle for third.
After the podium, the post-race press conference was equally frosty, with Hamilton refusing to answer questions with regards to the nature of his relationship with Rosberg.
Later in the day, and with his mood having softened, it was a far different Hamilton that was involved in a separate press briefing.
Asked whether there was anything he needed to clear up with Rosberg, he replied: “No, not really. We’ve sat down and cleared whatever air was needed to be cleared, and we’ve been through the data and seen what needed to be seen. I wish you guys could see it.
“Otherwise, we’re good. It was a difficult weekend, but what doesn’t break you will make you stronger. I can only get stronger for this weekend.”
Pressed to expand on the nature of the data, Hamilton said: “I saw something late last night [Saturday]. All I could do was smile.”
As to whether Rosberg’s actions in qualifying were deliberate – and he was ultimately cleared by the race stewards – Hamilton said: “Look man, the weekend’s done and dusted.
“We’ve a one-two for the team, so let’s just focus on moving forward and I plan to be stronger in the next race.
“We’ll continue to do what we do, work with the team. The team is the priority and that’s what we have to keep in front.
“We want to get the points for the team. I didn’t do anything silly, just looked after the car.” Hamilton also insisted his remarks with regard to taking a leaf out of Ayrton Senna’s book and liking the way he did things was nothing more than a joke, although the tone at the time suggested otherwise.
Despite Hamilton’s remarks on moving forward, it is understood the duo are no longer talking to one another, with their relationship at rock bottom.
For both men, for the rest of the season, they will have to endure an emotional rollercoaster as there will be one winner and one loser per race, and of course, only one of them can clinch the world title.
With Mercedes 141 points clear of Red Bull in the constructors’ title race, and with the duo romping clear in the drivers’ standings – with Rosberg again four points ahead – Hamilton would like to believe the season is “running successfully”.
However, he added: “It is never going to be perfect because we’re fierce competitors.
“You can never expect us to be best friends and compete as fiercely as we do, but we will remain respectful – or I will try to remain respectful.”
As for Rosberg’s take on his relationship with Hamilton, he said: “It’s fine.
“We’ve had discussions, and the benefit we have is we’ve known each other for so long.
“We always sit down, discuss and then move on, and that’s what we’ve done this weekend.”
Behind the podium trio, at the end of a race that included two safety car periods and eight retirements, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was fourth, followed by Nico Hulkenberg in his Force India.
McLaren ended their run of three races without a point with Jenson Button sixth and team-mate Kevin Magnussen tenth.
One of the highlights though, was Jules Bianchi’s ninth place, which gave Marussia their first points in F1 in their 83rd race.