Belfast Telegraph

Tensions rise as Lewis Hamilton loses title race control to team-mate Nico Rosberg

By Ian Parkes

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 saw him fall behind the German and almost into the clutches of Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo who hounded Hamilton over the closing stages, but the Australian ultimately 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."

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. 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."

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 they will have to endure an emotional rollercoaster as there will be one winner and one loser per race, and only one of them can clinch the world title.

Final positions (78 laps): 1 N Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes, 2 L Hamilton (GB) Mercedes, 3 D Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull, 4 F Alonso (Sp) Ferrari, 5 N Hulkenberg (Ger) Force India, 6 J Button (GB) McLaren, 7 F Massa (Br) Williams, 8 R Grosjean (Fr) Lotus, 9 J Bianchi (Fr) Marussia, 10 K Magnussen (Den) McLaren, 11 M Ericsson (Swe) Caterham, 12 K Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari, 13 K Kobayashi (Japan) Caterham, 14 M Chilton (GB) Marussia.

World Championship Standings: 1 Rosberg 122pts, 2 Hamilton 118, 3 Alonso 61, 4 Ricciardo 54, 5 Hulkenberg 47, 6 Vettel 45, 7 Bottas 34, 8 Button 31, 9 Magnussen 21, 10 Perez 20, 11 Massa 18, 12 Raikkonen 17, 13 Grosjean 8, 14 Vergne 4, 15 Kvyat 4, 16 Bianchi 2.

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