A tension has crept into F1 drivers’ relationships, as they look ahead to a fiery meeting at the Barcelona circuit on Friday.
Fernando Alonso had given the first hints about the tension when he hit out at Nico Rosberg’s aggressive tactics in Bahrain three weeks ago. And earlier this week, the Spaniard insisted there is not enough “respect” between the drivers when they are jostling for position at grands prix.
“Fernando made it pretty clear,” world champion Sebastian Vettel told reporters on Thursday. “He said ‘you have to leave the space — all the time you have to leave the space!'”
Rosberg said he is happy if discussions about his driving take place this weekend, but also in the firing line is Lewis Hamilton, who passed the Mercedes driver on the asphalt run-off in Bahrain.
“I was surprised Lewis was allowed to keep his position,” said Mark Webber. “I’m sure we’ll talk about it in the drivers’ briefing.”
McLaren’s Hamilton insisted he did nothing wrong, but he added: “I’m not really bothered. It’s good to have clarity. Mark is probably one of the most if not the most outspoken individuals here (in F1), so that is the least I expect from him.”
Also among the most aggressive – and regularly criticised – drivers is Michael Schumacher, and he insisted that the FIA is fully able to make judgements about incidents.
“If it’s not within the rules the FIA would have taken action,” said the seven time world champion, referring to the incidents in Bahrain. “They didn’t and I didn’t see anything wrong either.”