Formula 1

Lewis Hamilton expected to cool off Nico Rosberg rivalry

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Mercedes' non-executive chairman and three-time F1 champion Niki Lauda is expecting a more relaxed atmosphere between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in 2015.

The two drivers became embroiled in an increasingly tense rivalry over last year's world championship with several moments of controversy before Hamilton came out on top in the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

The way Mercedes handled their two drivers came in for much scrutiny last year and I for one wasn't too pleased with how the team's single desire to win the Constructors' championship and restrictions on how they could race somewhat held back what was still a great battle to be named world champion.

But with the 2015 season opener just 68 days away many are wondering what kind of battle we can expect this year with another year of Mercedes dominance potentially on the cards.

"It's going to be easier because they respect each other on their level of performance"

A healthier rivalry

Well the Austrian legend believes we will see a much healthier rivalry than the one that threatened to break out into an all-out war last year believing Hamilton and Rosberg have much greater respect for each other following the events of 2014.

"When you overcome all these issues - that one won the championship, the other didn't, that one hit the other and the other didn't - it's going to be easier because they respect each other on their level of performance," Lauda told Autosport.

2014 tensions already gone

Indeed, Rosberg has already claimed the tension that built up with Hamilton last year has gone but that came after some notable incidents including the German's trip down the Mirabeau escape road in qualifying at Monaco and the second lap contact that forced Hamilton to retire in Belgium.

Hamilton himself admitted that incident at Spa was the catalyst for the run of five straight wins that was key in him being crowned world champion, but Lauda admitted the way both men reacted from that race and how the pair embraced post-race in Abu Dhabi was a credit to themselves.

"Spa was the heat," he said. "Then we got it all under control again, all together.

"Not us telling them, them realising what they should do.

"From then on it all worked and the outcome was unbelievable. They are fighting each other and they hug each other and one congratulates the other."

Can Rosberg respond in 2015?

Looking ahead to the 2015 season most believe Hamilton's victory over Rosberg last year could reminisce the advantage Sebastian Vettel got over Mark Webber after the German got the first championship win over the Australian in the classic 2010 scrap between themselves, Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

But Lauda isn't so sure believing his loss will only spur Rosberg to higher levels and put up more of a fight to his double world champion team-mate.

"It's going to be fun again between the two of them. And I hope nobody else will interfere."

"This is exactly what we need because Nico will fight back and Nico has the potential upwards," Lauda proclaimed.

"There is still something to come out of his speed and performance and the technical inputs he gives.

"It's going to be fun again between the two of them. And I hope nobody else will interfere."

Early advantage would be key

While I have already indicated Mercedes can't rest on their superior power unit keeping them atop of the F1 mountain in 2015, if we do get another Lewis Hamilton vs. Nico Rosberg season-long showdown then it rests on Rosberg to get the advantage early doors over Hamilton.

The German will have no doubt learnt a lot about how to deal with the pressure of fighting for a championship because it was that brief moment when he tried to change his approach at Spa that ultimately spurred Hamilton to up his game.

Hamilton set for Vettel-esque dominance?

Without that it would have been very interesting as to whether the hyper-drive it seemed the Briton entered in those final races would have occurred though in most clean fights between the pair prior Hamilton had still come out on top.

If that starts happening again this season and Hamilton can create a gap in those first few races, it would be very difficult, I think, for Rosberg to fight back and we could have a Vettel in 2013-style season with one man clearly out in front.

But much of that will depend on whether someone else can give the Silver Arrows a run for their money and does what Lauda doesn't want which is to keep Mercedes looking over their shoulders in 2015.

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