PARIS (AP) — At last, Formula One has a heated rivalry again. Better still, it's in the same team and there are 13 races left for it to develop.
The dominance of Mercedes, which has swept all six races and all six pole positions so far, prompted fears that this season was becoming even more predictable than the last, when Sebastian Vettel won the final nine races and Red Bull crushed everyone.
Then, at last weekend's Monaco GP, a feud erupted out of nowhere between Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to add some much-needed spice to a dull campaign.
Hamilton has won four races this season, but Rosberg captured Sunday's race from pole for his second victory and reclaimed the overall championship lead with 122 points to 118 for his teammate.
"We're fierce competitors, so you can never expect us to be best friends and compete as fiercely as we do," Hamilton said after the Monaco GP. "But I will try to remain respectful."
Hamilton ignited the row by taking the brash step of publicly claiming that Rosberg, the son of former F1 champ Keke Rosberg, has less hunger than him after growing up in the luxurious environment of Monaco. Rosberg didn't respond to those claims verbally, but in the eyes of Hamilton he responded to them on the track by making a surprising last-gasp mistake in qualifying that led to a yellow flag. The session was abruptly halted, ending any hopes that Hamilton, at full throttle just behind, had of winning pole.
The fallout escalated quickly.
An incensed Hamilton insinuated that Rosberg — cleared by stewards of any wrongdoing — had done it on purpose, suggesting he would watch his own back the way the late Ayrton Senna did when he fell out with Alain Prost when they drove for McLaren in the late 1980s.
With tensions running high, the two Mercedes drivers were not in the post-qualifying team meeting together and were at opposite ends for the traditional pre-race jaunt around the circuit.
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