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Friday June 6, 2014 MYT 6:32:03 AM
Friday June 6, 2014 MYT 6:35:47 AM
by steve keating
Mercedes Formula One driver Nico Rosberg of Germany reacts during a German national soccer team news conference in St. Martin, northern Italy, May 27, 2014. T REUTERS/Ina Fassbender
MONTREAL (Reuters) - Nico Rosberg steered clear of fighting talk on Thursday but recognised relations with Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton had become trickier since the Formula One championship turned into a duel between the two.
The red hot rivalry between the title contenders has been the talk of Formula One for weeks and both drivers did their best to avoid stirring things up ahead of Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix.
"Of course it is more difficult," Rosberg told reporters as he faced the same wall of cameras and tape recorders that had greeted Hamilton earlier in the day at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. "We are fighting every single race weekend.
"There is more at stake, there is the opportunity of winning the championship this year and that is the ultimate goal in racing so there is a lot at stake," added the championship leader.
With six wins from six races so far, Mercedes are in a dominant position. Hamilton had taken four successive victories before Rosberg won and seized back the overall lead in Monaco two weeks ago.
That last race saw the rivalry turned up a notch with Hamilton suggesting the German had deliberately run wide in the final seconds of qualifying, bringing out yellow warning flags and forcing the 2008 world champion to slow when he might have taken pole.
The battles on the track and war of words off it have rekindled memories of the fierce rivalry between McLaren team mates Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost that captivated Formula One during the 1988-89 campaigns.
"In a way I am honoured to hear those comparisons because that was an extremely high level, a big battle at the time," said Rosberg. "But I leave it at that. I don't compare myself to that era I just want to do my own thing and go my own way."
Before arriving in Canada, Hamilton and Rosberg met to discuss the situation.
Rosberg refused to reveal details of what was said, only that he and his British team mate - who have been challenging each other on the track since their go-karting days - had settled their differences.
"I didn't see it as too unusual. We have always had periods where it was more difficult and we have that base respect that goes back 15 years and that's the important thing," said Rosberg. "As a result we always discuss things and move on.
"That's how it’s been this time too."
The 28-year-old made clear he saw the bigger picture, and what was good for his team and Formula One.
"I want to win races," offered Rosberg. "Everything I do is focused on that.
"You are all trying to build it into a war which I can understand because it makes it all the more exciting but I want to try and avoid putting extra fuel on it.
"I was in the factory this week talking to everybody and for them the Constructors' (championship) is so important so if we take each other out (on track), for all our team members that would be a disaster.
"In the end we are a team and I do think about everybody else too."
(Editing by Alan Baldwin)
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