Hamilton claims of intra-team conflict a "compliment" - Rosberg

Formula 1 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg says he's taking former teammate Lewis Hamilton's claims their relationship at Mercedes was negative as a "compliment".

Hamilton claims of intra-team conflict a "compliment" - Rosberg
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes W04, leads Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W04
Nico Rosberg at the Mercedes museum
Podium: race winner Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1, second place Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1
Press conference: Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG, and Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid leads Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W07 Hybrid, Nico Rosberg, Mercedes F1 W07 Hybrid, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB12 TAG Heuer, Nico Hulkenberg, Force India VJM09 Mercedes, Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF16-H, the rest of the field at the start

Rosberg and Hamilton engaged in three consecutive internal fights for the F1 world championship between 2014 and '16, which created a difficult relationship between them, and with their Mercedes team.

Hamilton, now a four-time world champion, suggested Rosberg's shock retirement the previous winter had helped him reach a new level this season, because Rosberg leaving had improved the atmosphere inside Mercedes.

When asked for his reaction to Hamilton's comments, Rosberg told Motorsport.com: "I'll read you a quote. This quote is from Lewis Hamilton: 'When you have two strong drivers in the team as we had, well, when the battle is within the team, it's like a hurricane with strong energy and it is just stuck in the room.'

"That's a quote from Lewis and I'll take that as a compliment!"

Rosberg suggested Hamilton would have felt differently about things had he beaten Rosberg to the 2016 championship.

"I won, so I can imagine maybe that wasn't so positive [for him] - I would be saying the same if I lost last year, that it wasn't too positive for me," Rosberg added.

"I found it very positive. We were probably the most successful teammate pairing in the history of Formula 1 on the track.

"We were pushing each other to the ultimate high level. Of course, it's not easy, but that's what in my eyes keeps the drive going and the motivation high. For me, that was largely positive.

"Clearly it was an extremely intense and challenging situation, but all the more rewarding then to come out on top, and against Lewis, who was rewriting the record books himself.

"To come out on top against him was so damn rewarding, and all that has come together in me being just absolutely so entirely fulfilled with my career, because the ending was just perfection for me."

Much was made of the breakdown in relations between the pair during their time at Mercedes, with Hamilton and Rosberg having been childhood friends and rivals in karting.

Rosberg says he is open to having "normal" conversations with Hamilton again, now they are no longer competitors.

"The fact is that I'm not at all a competitor anymore - it's a completely different ball-game now, I am 100% out," Rosberg said.

"That changes a lot of things and therefore I don't see why, with time, we can't start having conversations again in a normal way.

"I've always had great respect for him, I don't have anything against him, he was just a competitor and then naturally there was this difficult situation, but the base respect was always there.

"I still respect him as a person and as a racing driver – I always will and always have. That always remains and remains since we were 14 years old."

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