Valentino Rossi has rejected claims that he ends friendships with other riders if they start to threaten his superiority, by revealing that he has gone out of his way to ensure that his relationship with Marco Melandri - which is alleged to have soured when the Movistar Honda rider began challenging the world champion this season - remains good.
"No. I think this is not true," replied Rossi, when asked if he deliberately avoided friendships with his closest rivals. "With Melandri, when this year he start to go fast, especially the Italian journalists, try to put some bad things between us - to make fight like what happened between Biaggi and Doohan.
"But I go to speak to Melandri after Shanghai, on the podium, because I say one thing and the Italian journalists they modify and say to him another thing - and also the same journalists come to me and make the same.
"I know Marco from minibikes when we were friends - we've been friends for more than ten-years - so I try to keep a good relationship because I don't like a bad relationship with anybody," he insisted. "For sure I have had a bad relationship with Biaggi and Gibernau but I don't think that is the right result."
But does he believe that the rest of the MotoGP grid is now intimidated by him, after his total dominance in recent seasons?
"No, but for sure everyone want to beat me because I win a lot and the other riders want to win," said the Italian, who claimed his 76th GP victory last time out in Germany. "More or less everyone knows that I will be very fast and strong at every race. For the other riders I think it is difficult, but I think it is a good motivation to try and beat me."