Lewis Hamilton insists that there is no number one at Mercedes after Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko suggested that the Briton had only joined the team having been told he would be favoured over Nico Rosberg.
Marko made the comments in the aftermath of the Malaysian Grand Prix after Mercedes ordered Rosberg to stay behind Hamilton in the closing stages – an order Rosberg followed, unlike Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull.
Hamilton readily admitted after the race that it wasn't the way in which he had wanted to secure a first podium finish in Mercedes colours and reacted to Marko's comments by insisted that he and Rosberg were very much on equal terms.
“That is rubbish,” he told the British newspapers in response to Marko's claims. "Red Bull have a clear one and two, they always have. And that is why they have always had the problems they have had.
"We don't have a one and two at Mercedes. I have always said, from the moment I was speaking to the team, that I wanted equality. They didn't offer me to be favoured but I just wanted to make the point that I am not a driver that comes and requests that like a lot of other drivers do.
"You have be able to look at yourself in the mirror [and say] you won fair and square. In Malaysia I don't feel like I won my spot fair and square. Although I did drive a decent race, I don't feel spectacular about it. Overall he [Rosberg] did a better job. I am just going to keep pushing hard. Generally in Malaysia he had the better pace.
“I seem to be able to pull it out in Q3, whatever the circumstances, but he was pretty good in Malaysia, so I have got to make sure I am stronger in China.”
Hamilton also responded to media reports during the Malaysian weekend suggesting that he had spoken to Bernie Ecclestone to try and engineer a deal that would have seen him join Red Bull instead of Mercedes for 2013.
"I'm not quite sure why Bernie keeps making comments about me,” he said. “It makes me a little bit nervous because we have quite a good relationship.
"I'm quite open with him with a lot of stuff, it is just through respect. I don't really know what to say. I think he said something about Red Bull.
"I said to my management team to speak to all the teams and see what the best options were. There was no team I was particularly pushing for. At the end of the day I chose to be here and I'm happy here. It's the best decision I ever made."