Mercedes have yet to unveil their car for the 2017 Formula 1 season, but already there are concerns over the relationship between Lewis Hamilton and his new team-mate Valtteri Bottas after the three-time world champion was forced to clarify comments about data sharing and insist he had "zero problems" with his Finnish colleague.
In an interview ahead of the new season, Hamilton revealed that data on his braking points and driving lines had been shared within his team. He claimed it was unfair for his team-mate to gain an advantage by studying his "homework".
"I go out, do my laps, do all my homework and the other guy can see everything," Hamilton said in a UBS Facebook Q&A on Friday. "Because of this data, they can just copy you, by braking five metres earlier here, two metres there. That's what I really dislike.
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"That's what I loved about go-karting, you weren't able to do that, and that was where just your raw talent is able to shine."
But his comments have been interpreted in some places as a veiled warning to Bottas, reports Sky Sports, which notes that Hamilton moved to reject the idea on Monday, insisting on Twitter that there were "zero problems in my team, zero problems with Bottas".
Given Hamilton's problems with other former team-mates, including Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg, there is cause for concern, says James Gray of the Daily Express.
"If you try to count all the occasions on which the three-time world champion has lost his temper with his treatment at Mercedes, you quite quickly run out of fingers and eventually toes," he says, before warning that the driver should stop making waves.
Hamilton "cannot continue to flaunt [Toto] Wolff's attempts to create commonality in the team" and if he does continue to complain then it would come as no surprise if he decides to give up on "F1's most difficult child".
At the same time as Hamilton was defending himself, the team revealed that Wolff and Mercedes's non-executive chairman Niki Lauda had both signed new long-term deals with Mercedes, reports the Daily Telegraph.
"Winning is never down to single individuals – it is about the right group of people coming together, aligning themselves with a common objective and then combining their talents to achieve that target," said Wolff.
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