Believe it or not, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were best buddies once upon a time.
The former Mercedes teammates had been friendly rivals in karting competition during their childhood, but their bond failed to carry onto the Formula 1 circuit.
Hamilton and Rosberg contested three world championships down to the wire between 2014 and 2016, the last also being their tightest battle.
Competition between colleagues can easily turn nasty at the highest level of any sport, and it’s safe to say this particular relationship failed to withstand the intensity.
Despite being required to work together for a common cause in Mercedes, there’s no question Hamilton and Rosberg enjoyed beating each other.
Reflecting on his five-point victory over the Briton in the final race of the 2016 season, Rosberg suggests their rivalry was fundamentally beneficial.
"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," he said, per Autosport.
"I found it very positive. We were probably the most successful team-mate 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."
A CHANCE TO RECONCILE?
Their deteriorating relations became increasingly obvious over the course of three years, leaving many to wonder if their friendship would ever recover off the track.
With Rosberg no longer racing, reconciling with Hamilton would certainly be easier than now than a year ago.
However, even if that’s true, the process will take some time, according to the German.
"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."
Hamilton and Rosberg couldn’t possibly have imagined themselves being in this situation when they were 14-years-old.
Sadly, now it’s just as difficult to see their friendship making a full recovery.
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