BAHRAIN BATTLE LOOMS: Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton addresses media ahead of the 2015 Bahrain GP in Sakhir. Image: AP / Hassan Ammar
MANAMA, Bahrain - Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton has denied that he has requested 'number one' driver status in the Mercedes team and claimed he and team mate Nico Rosberg are re-united 'without any issues' in this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix (on Sunday April 19).
Just days after beating Rosberg at the Chinese GP to extend his lead in the drivers' championship, Hamilton was the chief attraction at a routine pre-race news conference in which he was asked also about his champagne-spraying celebrations.
It was reported that Hamilton had upset and embarrassed a podium ceremony hostess by squirting champagne into her face after winning the Chinese GP but this was denied by her before Hamilton commented.
CHINA PODIUM ROW
Liu Siying, 22-year-old model who was sprayed in champagne, told the local Shanghai Daily newspaper that it had not bothered her.
Siying said: "It lasted for only one or two seconds and I didn't think too much about it. I think some foreign media are more sensitive about the topic than local media!"
"I can't control other people's behaviour when I'm working. I hope the public doesn't make too much of it, or that it affects my personal life."
Hamilton said he had not been aware of the alleged controversy until he was told of it on arrival in Bahrain.
"My actions were all part of my excitement after winning," he explained, adding that he had no intention of showing disrespect or to embarrass anyone.
Asked about his contract negotiations and a particular suggestion that one reason why his new contract had not been agreed and signed was his request for number one status, he said he had never in his career asked for any kind of preferential treatment.
Hamilton said: "Never, never have I asked for that. I just want to beat my team mate out on the track and prove myself that way and not by my team -mate having his hands tied behind his back."
DISMISSED ALL CLAIMS
He said there was 'no issue' about his partnership with Rosberg and no strain in their relationship despite the Rosberg's claims that he had been 'backed into' the clutches of third-placed Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari.
Rosberg said: "It's something we spoke about after the race, I don't particularly want to go back into it, but obviously we heard the comments after the race and some people have spun those words in whichever way they wanted to spin them.
"Moving forwards, we are reunited as a team this week, and we'll try and do a great job. There is no issue between myself and Nico. We saw each other this morning (on Thursday) and everything is good.
"There are going to be times when people are unhappy about things, but, you know, we're grown-ups and we have moved past it."
His team chief Toto Wolff dismissed all claims that the Briton had asked for number one status in the team.
Wolff said: "That's not the case and he wouldn't ask for that clause because that is not what we do - and I think he appreciates how we manage the team and give both drivers equal status. It is down to the detail," he said of their ongoing contract talks.
"We have discussed and negotiated for a long time. We have sorted out the main terms since a couple of months already and it's just a little bit of 'ping pong' between the lawyers.
TRY TO CHANGE
Wolff said: "I would really wish to sort it out in the next couple of days, or weeks, without putting ourselves under pressure because this is a great relationship among us."
Hamilton will be bidding to claim his first Bahrain pole position this weekend as he seeks to extend his run of dominance over Rosberg.
Hamilton has won eight of the last 10 races, with Rosberg winning just once.
The champion said: "I'll treat this race the same as every race and I am excited. I've been on the front row, but not been on pole here so naturally that's something I want to try to change."
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