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Hamilton one of the best, but no friend – Rosberg

F1 bosses vote Hamilton best driver

Nico Rosberg during his meeting with the fans in Wiesbaden, yesterday.

Nico Rosberg during his meeting with the fans in Wiesbaden, yesterday.

Formula One world champion Nico Rosberg hailed Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton as one of the greatest drivers of all time yesterday but ruled out forging any friendly ties with the Briton as long as they raced each other.

Rosberg, who lost out to Hamilton in the previous two years, made it third time lucky when he clinched his maiden title with a second-place finish behind the triple world champion at the season finale in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

The pair have been at loggerheads all season and their frosty relationship had been compared by Mercedes boss Toto Wolff as a volcano ready to erupt.

Hamilton compounded matters further when he deliberately slowed the pace from the front in Abu Dhabi, hoping to back Rosberg into a position where rival drivers could overtake the German in a last-ditch effort to overhaul his 12-point deficit.

“Lewis is one of the best of all time. He sets a high standard,” the 31-year-old Rosberg told reporters during a visit to his Wiesbaden birthplace in Germany.

“It will always be difficult between us. We are in the same team and race against each other for titles,” Rosberg said.

“It is virtually impossible to have a good relationship. We used to be best friends when we were young so at least we have this respect for each other. This helps somewhat,” he added.

“I do not know how he feels at the moment but I know how I felt in 2014 and 2015.”

Meanwhile, F1 team bosses voted Hamilton the sport’s best driver in an annual Autosport poll.

Rosberg was third in the secret vote behind Red Bull’s 19-year-old Dutch sensation Max Verstappen.

Red Bull’s Australian Daniel Ricciardo was fourth.

Hamilton got more points in the 2016 Autosport poll, which asks bosses to name their top 10 and awards points to each driver according to Formula One’s scoring system, than he did last year when he won the title with three rounds to spare.

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