Lewis Hamilton insists his relationship with Mercedes Formula 1 team-mate Nico Rosberg will be unaffected by the potential friction of a title fight.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said after the team's one-two finish in Malaysia last weekend that his squad would have to watch out for tension developing between the two drivers as the season unfolded.
However, Malaysian Grand Prix winner Hamilton told reporters in Bahrain that Rosberg was not one of his close friends and thus he had no reason to worry about their relationship bending under the strain of fighting for a world championship.
"It's very simple. People are constantly talking about us being friends and all that stuff.
"Nico and myself I'm sure, as everyone, can count our friends on one hand," said Hamilton when asked by AUTOSPORT how he saw the relationship changing as the title fight ramps up.
"Nico doesn't come in those five friends I have, and I don't come in the five friends that he has.
"We're colleagues. We've known each other a long time, longer than probably any other drivers [on the grid] have known each other, but we have a great amount of respect, we work in the same team, we have a great working relationship.
"We have [had] since we were kids. We've been team-mates fighting for a championship in the past in karting, so it's no different from then as it is now."
Australian GP winner Rosberg reckons the dynamic between the two could alter as the season progresses, but the German is not worried that a title fight might cause a break down in relations.
"At the moment it hasn't changed at all. Yet," he said. "Maybe because we're not thinking about the championship yet, just race by race making the most of what we have.
"It could change later, if we're still in a similar position, [but] it's not a concern.
"We've been in this situation in go-karts, fighting for the championship there. It's exactly the same.
"There are more people around, more media, more spectators, but we managed to get through there with respect and I'm confident we're going to manage again in any circumstances.
"Inevitably there will be tough times for sure, but I'm confident we can work through it and move on."