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'Pure respect' as Hamilton and Rosberg clear the air

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Formula One - Australia Grand Prix - Melbourne, Australia - 20/03/16 - Australian Formula One Grand Prix winner, Mercedes F1 driver Nico Rosberg (R) speaks with team mate Lewis Hamilton at the post-race press conference in Melbourne. REUTERS/Brandon Malone
Formula One - Australia Grand Prix - Melbourne, Australia - 20/03/16 - Australian Formula One Grand Prix winner, Mercedes F1 driver Nico Rosberg (R) speaks with team mate Lewis Hamilton at the post-race press conference in Melbourne. REUTERS/Brandon Malone

By Alan Baldwin

MONACO (Reuters) - Triple Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton expressed 'pure respect' for Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg on Wednesday after the pair cleared the air following their Spanish Grand Prix collision.

"We stood and spoke to each other today, and no problem," the Briton told reporters after arriving in the Monaco paddock 10 days on from the opening lap incident that dumped both out of the race.

"In the past there would have been tension of some sort but now it was just pure respect: I said 'I still have all the respect for you' and he said the same so let's just keep racing."

Championship leader Rosberg, 43 points clear of Hamilton after five of 21 races, remained cagey about what was said.

"That needs to be kept internally," said the German, whose run of seven wins in a row ended in the Circuit de Catalunya gravel trap.

"What I can say is that, between the two of us, it's a thing of the past now, we're moving on with everything and the relationship is the same as before."

Hamilton indicated it was less tense, however.

"It’s just that we’re getting old. We’re good at our jobs, and we know it," he said.

The two, friends and then rivals since their early teenage years, saw their relationship turn frosty in 2014 when they had a coming together at the Belgian Grand Prix in a tight championship battle.

Monaco has also been a minefield, with the last two races in the Mediterranean principality ending in controversy involving the Mercedes pair.

Rosberg, who grew up in Monaco as the son of Finland's 1982 world champion Keke, has won the last three editions although last year's was gifted to him after the team wrecked Hamilton's race with an unnecessary pitstop.

In 2014, there was acrimony in qualifying after Rosberg aborted his lap and reversed back onto the track, bringing out warning flags and forcing Hamilton to slow with pole position seemingly in his grasp.

"We didn’t need to talk about the incident. We know what happened, we were there, we experienced it, and we know how we felt about it before," said Hamilton of the latest clash.

"We arrived, we were very cool and chilled. And as I said, all we need to know is that the respect is still there, and we’re going to keep racing. Everything’s cool. That’s all we had to say."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)


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