NOT INTENTIONAL: Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton say that there were no malicious intent when they did not shake hands. Image: AP / Hassan Ammar
Abu Dhabi - Nico Rosberg says he and Lewis Hamilton did not deliberately refuse to shake hands as they head into their 2016 title showdown in Abu Dhabi.
Before the FIA press conference, moderator James Allen asked the Mercedes pair to stand for the photographers and shake hands, but they did not do the latter.
Rosberg later told Bild newspaper: "We were only asked to stand up for a photo. It would have been no problem to shake hands with Lewis."
Actually, the pair on Thursday (November 24) insisted they have mutual respect, and it is obvious that the open hostility of their previous title battles has gone.
READ: F1 rivals Hamilton, Rosberg battle-ready ahead of final race
Hamilton said: "Obviously we had ups and downs but ultimately, particularly in the last year, I think we've been able to manage it pretty well."
Rosberg agreed: "We've had some difficult moments but also some good ones and this year I think we've made progress so it's generally neutral but of course a difficult environment."
So both contenders played down any claims 'dirty tricks' could play into Sunday's (November 27) title battle, including Hamilton backing Rosberg into the chasing Red Bulls.
Hamilton said: "If I'm out ahead, I generally want to be as far ahead as possible. That's as painful a blow as you can give to the guy you're fighting."
And while Rosberg said he will do whatever it takes to win the title, he will only do what is "Within the limits of what's acceptable".
READ: Rosberg vs. Hamilton - F1 title to be decided at Abu Dhabi GP