Nico Rosberg has been quick to brush aside any notions that illustrious Mercedes Grand Prix team-mate Michael Schumacher will do whatever it takes to gain the upper hand over him or 'destroy' him in F1 2010 – revealing that thus far at least, the most successful driver in the sport's history has been 'open, friendly and relaxed'.
The all-Teutonic internecine scrap at Mercedes this season will be fascinating to watch, as Schumacher endeavours to prove that he can still hack it up against drivers barely half his age and following three years away from the grand prix grid, and Rosberg conversely bids to get the better of a man with a staggering seven drivers' world championship crowns, 91 grand prix victories, 154 podium finishes and no fewer than 1,369 points to his name.
It was just such form that enabled the Kerpen native to comfortably and relentlessly dominate his previous team-mates in the top flight, from Martin Brundle, Riccardo Patrese, JJ Lehto and Jos Verstappen to Johnny Herbert, Eddie Irvine, Rubens Barrichello and Felipe Massa.
However, Rosberg was always promised absolute equality of equipment and opportunity by Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn – the man who expertly engineered Schumacher to each of his drivers' titles at the highest level – and the 24-year-old made full use of that to become only the second of Schumacher's team-mates ever to outpace the German in every single session of a grand prix weekend in Bahrain earlier this month.
Far from bearing his young compatriot any rancour, hiding data or making swift efforts to focus the team's entire attentions on himself – as he was accused of doing after Herbert unexpectedly gave him a scare in practice for the opening race in Brazil in 1995 – 'Schumi' has to-date been good as gold, Rosberg insists, with not even so much as a hint of the kind of 'dirty tricks' he has been warned about.
“I've heard so much bad stuff about being team-matesto him,” the former Williams ace acknowledged, “and to be very honest, it's been really good up to now – very open [with] everything, very friendly, no thoughts behind 'how can I destroy a team-mate' or something like that. It's been a good experience up to now.
“[It's created] a general nice feeling within the team as a result. He (Schumacher) is very relaxed. Even being in front of him all weekend in Bahrain, it didn't change anything. It was a very relaxed approach from both of us.”
That mutually respectful working relationship, Rosberg contends, will be of paramount importance as Mercedes bids to narrow the gap to early F1 2010 pace-setters Ferrari and Red Bull Racing – and the inaugural GP2 Series Champion is positive that over the next few grands prix, the Brackley-based outfit can do just that.
“I think we are a strong pairing in helping the team to develop,” he opined. “We work well together and have similar opinions most of the time, and I think we can push the team along quite well. We learnt that we are lacking speed, but we are confident we can close the gap in the coming races.
“I was in the factory [on the] Tuesday after Bahrain, and it was very promising [with] all the ideas and the plan that they presented me to show what the next developments are and when they're coming. I'm quite optimistic.”