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Alonso hails "beautiful battle" between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg

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Alonso hails "beautiful battle" between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg
Sep 4, 2014, 2:59 PM

Fernando Alonso has described the rivalry between the two Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton as a "beautiful battle" which he is enjo...

Fernando Alonso has described the rivalry between the two Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton as a "beautiful battle" which he is enjoying watching.

The Spaniard had earlier in the week suggested that the clash on the second lap of the Belgian Grand Prix would divide the two sides of the Mercedes garage. "It is not only the drivers, it is the mechanics and engineers," he said, "and the driver’s mind will change when you are against your team-mate because, even if you don’t want to, your mind will always be looking for something weird which is going in favour of the other driver.”

In Monza today, during the FIA press conference, the Ferrari driver rowed back from those comments, saying he had been misinterpreted, but he added that the two Mercedes drivers were in a "privileged position" in their fight for the world championship.

"They have a clear target, which is winning the world championship, both of them," he said. "They are in a privileged position, which is to fight for that goal. From the outside we will try to enjoy this beautiful battle as much as possible. The sport is made of these kind of things. They have a good problem: fight for the world championship."

Rosberg has this week been strongly apologetic over the incident at Spa and has expressed his regret to not only Hamilton and Mercedes, but also to fans who travelled to the circuit in Belgium - and paid very significant money for the privilege - but were denied the possibility of witnessing a duel between them.

"It was definitely not a nice feeling to hear boos towards me," he said of the reaction of some fans during the podium ceremony at Spa. " I understand, because they travel a long way, some of them, to watch a great, exciting race; a big battle between Lewis and I, and they didn’t get that. I understand that and I accept that."

He said this afternoon that "time and reflection" had made him realise he had something to apologise for.

"I took the week to think about it and had a look at it and discussed with the team on Friday and I just in the end decided that it was me who should take responsibility for it," he said.

Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton said he wanted to move forward but stopped short of saying that he could accept that it was a "racing incident" and warmed to a question about the fairness of a driver being taken out of a race, while his championship rival adds 18 points to his lead over him.

"I think the FIA have a really tough job and particularly over the last couple of years they’ve done an exceptional job, I think, on the majority of the calls," said Hamilton when asked about the stewards' decision to make the collision down as a race incident. "I think their problem is always that the rules... the scenario is always different, so the same rule doesn’t always apply exactly. Sometimes perhaps it’s difficult to say which rule applies to what situation but I think there’s a very good question, to be honest, because how do we move forward from that?

"Does that mean that we can all now say OK, we can race a lot closer and if the guy in front comes off and is out of the race, nothing’s going to happen, so then we will be more relaxed towards it or does that mean if it happens again there will be a penalty?" he continued. "I think we’re always asking to be able to race. It’s very hard out there to manoeuvre a car at those high speeds without sometimes having contact but there’s a fine line. But I think it’s a really good question, I don’t know the full answer to it really."

The atmosphere in the small press conference room was relatively intense, with Alonso seated between the two Mercedes drivers who arrived a few moments apart. Alonso said he did not want to "play the ambassador for peace" but added that he and Hamilton had had no problems as team-mates in 2007 and remained respectful of each other to this day and added that he was sure Rosberg and Hamilton would do the same.

Hamilton did not want to overcommit but clearly had some unresolved issues in his mind despite wanting to "move on". For example, when asked if the pair had a baseline of trust from which to work he said that "trust is a big word" to use when racing against an adversary. He would only say that the team is extremely professional.

Asked if psychological warfare was an important part of a title battle, Rosberg said only  that "of course in sport it plays a part and that "your state of mind is always important in sport".

However, he seemed less relaxed than of late and clearly this episode has had an effect on him. Hamilton, who has failed to put a perfect race weekend together since Spain, seems, however, to have gained something from the furore.

Whether he can capitalise on this and Rosberg's inevitable caution in close quarters racing for the near future is the ten million dollar question. As the Briton said, there are still many points on the table, but he needs to start winning again and to rediscover his composure across a race weekend. Perhaps he can use the aftermath of Spa as a catalyst to do this.
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