Two-time Formula One world champion Mika Hakkinen of Finland believes the "mind games" between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are normal during an F1 season.
Hakkinen was speaking at a Laureus event in Shanghai on 14 April; two days after Hamilton won the Chinese Grand Prix.
Hamilton has suggested he is mentally tougher than Mercedes team mate Rosberg and questioned how hard the German really tried to beat him in last weekend's Chinese Grand Prix.
The tension between the two, evident last year as they battled for the title, flared up again in Shanghai when Rosberg accused Hamilton of compromising his race by driving selfishly slow and leaving him exposed to the Ferraris behind. In the end they finished one-two for the second time in three races.
Hakkinen, who had his own rivalry and on-track disputes with Michael Schumacher, said the tension was natural when two drivers have the chance to win a world championship.
"There's always little conversations between the team mates," Hakkinen said. "If you don't win you're not happy. If you win you're happy and at the moment Lewis [Hamilton] and Nico [Rosberg] they have both – these drivers – they have a chance to win. So far Lewis has been winning so I think it's normal that there is this type of psychological game involved but that's part of the game."
Hamilton and Rosberg will both be vying for the win in 19 April Bahrain Grand Prix. Meanwhile, Hakkinen said he was confident McLaren would return to winning ways soon.
McLaren continued their early season struggles in Shanghai with Spain's Fernando Alonso finishing a lap down in 12th, while Briton Jenson Button dropped to 14th after picking up a time penalty for causing a collision with Lotus's Pastor Maldonado.
McLaren have switched to Honda engines this season and Hakkinen believes it always takes time for a new manufacturer's relationship with an F1 team to blossom.
"I'm confident they will come back," Hakkinen said. "I'm confident they will get the success; it's just a very...it takes time, it takes time. Formula One technology is very complex, very complex thing and when newcomer is coming, new engine manufacturer comes to Formula One it's not so easy.
"It's never been easy but now it's even more challenging. They have so much technical issues which are affecting to get the power unit to generate the maximum performance so it takes time."