Fresh from his commanding victory last time out in Malaysia, Lewis Hamilton has arrived in Bahrain with a strong message for those who question how his friendship with Nico Rosberg will survive their battle for honours with Mercedes this year.
In what looks like a well considered and prepared line, Hamilton argues that he and Rosberg and not close friends and that he expects their cordial relationship to date to be tested in the heat of battle this year, as both strive to become Mercedes’ first world champion since 1955.
“What people need to understand is, people are always talking about us being friends and all that kind of stuff, I can count my friends on the fingers of one hand and I’m sure Nico can do the same. And he’s not in my five and I’m not in his,” said Hamilton in the Bahrain paddock on Thursday.
“The rest doesn’t matter; we’re here to win, we are here to race. We have a great amount of respect for each other, that’s all we need.
“We are going to race and we are going to come across issues and troubles and we will get past them and we will keep racing.”
So far this season there have been none of the moments of high tension that characterised the relationship between Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber at Red Bull, when both were at a similar level in the summer of 2010.
When a victory is as clear cut as Hamilton’s in Malaysia there is nothing to argue about, but inevitably they will be in closer disputes at some point soon and Hamilton has done well to prepare people’s expectations for how that may play out.
It’s a sign of his growing maturity and his desire to be on the front foot when putting out messages, rather than reacting to events.