Nico Rosberg has revealed his relationship broke down with Lewis Hamilton in Formula One as soon as they began fighting for the world championship in 2014.
Rosberg and Hamilton were childhood friends and became team-mates at Mercedes in 2013.
However, when Mercedes had the best car when F1’s turbo-hybrid era began in 2014, an intense rivalry ignited which included the drivers not speaking to each other off the track after several incidents.
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“It [the friendship breakdown] happened immediately when we were fighting for the world championship, not before,” Rosberg told Eurosport.
“But that's always the case: When you're fighting for success in every race and for titles, it doesn't work anymore.
“It was a build-up from one race to the next. If you want to decide the world championship for yourself, you can't play ‘love, peace and harmony’.
“You have to test limits and go into grey areas to win, especially when two drivers are at such a high level. Then it often gets tight.”
Whilst Hamilton won the 2014 and 2015 F1 titles, Rosberg fought back in 2016 in a thrilling season which saw the pair come together on the opening lap of the Spanish Grand Prix and the last lap of the Austrian Grand Prix.
Hamilton has previously stated he threatened to quit Mercedes, underlining how sour the relationship turned.
At the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton ignored team orders by trying to back Rosberg up into the pack, in an attempt to put cars in between them to win the title.
Rosberg prevailed to become world champion and retired from F1 just five days later having achieved his dream.
“I don't regret anything from the battle with Lewis,” Rosberg answered when asked about having any regrets during his time at Mercedes.
“That was a sensational time and a mega fight. I'm very proud of that. In the meantime, we've returned to neutral, which is okay."
Rosberg and Hamilton’s rivalry has renewed in Extreme E where the pair both have teams.
The first Extreme E season in 2021 saw Rosberg X Racing and Hamilton’s Team X44 finish tied on points, with the German’s squad coming out on top due to having more wins.
“The funny thing is that we're fighting each other again in Extreme E,” said Rosberg. “You have to imagine that - we didn't know about each other's plans beforehand, we built up our racing teams at the same time.
“Alejandro Agag [CEO of Extreme E] didn't reveal to me or Lewis that he was planning the same thing with the other! We also announced our teams within a couple of weeks of each other. That was totally cool.”
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