FIERCE RIVALRY: Nico Rosberg celebrates pole position as team mate and second place driver Lewis Hamilton looks on after qualifying for the Mexican GP. Image: AFP / Clive Mason
Mexico City, Mexico - His title chances are over, but Nico Rosberg seems determined to start his fight back against Lewis Hamilton immediately.
After the cap-hurling disappointment of the United States Grand Prix just a week ago, the German continued his run of pole positions at the Mexican GP on Saturday.
But new triple world champion Hamilton sounded unperturbed, insisting that he is actually happy to be starting second for the long run down to turn 1.
"Race wins matter, not pole positions"
Hamilton said: "Actually it (second) is probably the best spot to start."
And the mind games continued with Hamilton suggesting that while Rosberg has clinched four poles on the trot, it is he who is going home with the biggest trophies.
Read: Rosberg grabs Mexican GP pole ahead of Hamilton
The Briton said: "The races are the real meaning, when you finish your career, it's the championships and the race wins that you've had (that matter), not the pole positions."
And the harshest barb came in an interview with Bild am Sonntag newspaper, in which Hamilton suggested Rosberg only wins when he makes mistakes.
Hamilton said: "Let's just say that my greatest enemy is myself.
"I see it that someone else has a chance only when I make mistakes. So as long as I don't beat myself, probably no one can take the title from me at the moment."
Watch: Rosberg hurls cap at Hamilton after US GP
It is clear that, after their first-corner clash in Austin and the cap-hurling incident that followed, the tension has returned to the silver-clad duel.
Asked if 'anger' was the missing ingredient before, Rosberg insisted after securing pole on Saturday: "Definitely not. It's attack like always, no difference."
Rosberg/ Hamilton rivalry good for F1
Boss Toto Wolff, however, does not quite agree, admitting he thinks recent knocks have indeed fired up Rosberg.
But he doesn't mind.
Wolff said: "Controversy and friction between teammates is what the fans want to see and it spurs us on as a team as well. I just don't like it when it has a negative effect on the team."
Indeed, Rosberg has hinted that, having been bullied by Hamilton in recent on-track battles, a change of approach from Mexico onward might now be necessary.
"Do not put each other out of the race"
Wolff is concerned that it might end with broken pieces of carbon fibre on Sunday.
Wolff said:"We have discussed this topic a lot, the biggest rule still applies, do not put each other out of the race."
Earlier, Wolff was critical of Hamilton's behaviour at the start in Austin, but now he says Rosberg also played a significant role in the clash.
The team boss said: "The manoeuvre at the first corner in Austin was hard from both sides, and I want to stress that we do not want to see more collisions like that."
Waiting patiently behind them on the Mexico grid, meanwhile, is Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who joked to Rosberg and Hamilton after qualifying: "Can you make sure you take each other out so I can go through?"