Rosberg open to rebuilding friendship with Hamilton

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Abu Dhabi Grand prix

Nico Rosberg says he would like to rekindle the friendship that he used to have with Lewis Hamilton - the man who became his most bitter rival.

Rosberg had known Hamilton since the pair raced together in karting as teenagers. But once they were pitted together as team mates at Mercedes in 2013, the relationship turned increasingly acrimonious.

"We were very good friends in the past," Rosberg told the German broadcaster ZDF. "It can happen again in the future.

"I don't see why we could not get along well after some time," he said, before admitting: "We're not at that point yet, though."

Rosberg finally beat Hamilton to the title in 2016, and promptly retired from Formula 1 five days later. That's taken much of the heat out of their rivalry in the last 12 months.

The pair are apartment neighbours in Monaco. However, they haven't even talked on the phone this year.

"We're not rivals anymore, I'm completely out of it," the 32-year-old explained. He had been quick to congratulate Hamilton on winning this year's title after the Mexican Grand Prix.

"He does it his way and I have a lot of respect for that, it's a great quality," Rosberg said.

"Lots of people don't like what he does and how he is, which is a matter of opinion, but I think it's cool that he goes his own way."

Rosberg has been noticeably conciliatory in recent comments about his rivalry with Hamilton, saying it has been largely constructive.

"We were pushing each other to the ultimate high level," he said last week. "We were probably the most successful teammate pairing in the history of Formula 1 on the track."

But Mercedes' non-executive chairman Niki Lauda said the atmosphere at the team had been much better since Rosberg left. His spot was taken at short notice over the winter by Valtteri Bottas.

"Hamilton and Bottas are not friends," Lauda told La Gazzetta dello Sport this week. "But there is no hate, as there was between Lewis and Nico.

"It was bad for the team," the three-time world champion said. "But not for them, because it pushed them to go faster."

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