F1: Niki Lauda says Hamilton and Rosberg have more respect now

The relationship between Mercedes Formula 1 team-mates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will be better in 2015 because the pair now have more respect for each other, reckons Niki Lauda

Mercedes non-executive director and three-time F1 world champion Lauda believes overcoming the intra-team flashpoints of 2014 - when Hamilton and Rosberg clashed over incidents including Rosberg's Monaco Grand Prix qualifying excursion and their collision in Belgium - ultimately strengthened their relationship.

"When you overcome all these issues - that one won the championship, the other didn't, that one hit the other and the other didn't - it's going to be easier because they respect each other on their level of performance," said Lauda.

Hamilton: Tension with Rosberg gone

It emerged last year that Mercedes had imposed a communication ban on Hamilton and Rosberg in the immediate aftermath of the Spa tangle.

Although the team levied an unspecified punishment on Rosberg, Lauda said the most important factor in repairing relations was how the two drivers reacted, culminating in Rosberg congratulating Hamilton after the Abu Dhabi GP title decider.

"Spa was the heat," said Lauda. "Then we got it all under control again, all together.

"Not us telling them, them realising what they should do.

"From then on it all worked and the outcome was unbelievable.

"They are fighting each other and they hug each other and one congratulates the other."

Lauda denied that Hamilton defeating Rosberg last year would give a Briton a definitive advantage, arguing that there is still a lot more to come from Rosberg as he now has experience of being in championship contention.

"This is exactly what we need because Nico will fight back and Nico has the potential upwards," Lauda said.

"There is still something to come out of his speed and performance and the technical inputs he gives.

"It's going to be fun again between the two of them. And I hope nobody else will interfere."

Lauda added that he regarded tension between team-mates as a normal part of F1.

"I never liked [Alain] Prost, I never liked [Clay] Regazzoni, I never liked [John] Watson when it came down to racing so this is normal," he said of his own team-mates.

"But there is a certain respect for each other."

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