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Hamilton and Rosberg getting along swimmingly

LONDON (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton says his relationship with Mercedes team mate and Formula One leader Nico Rosberg has become ‘surprisingly’ good, thanks in part to a shared swimming pool at their Monaco apartment block.

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“It’s actually really good with Nico at the moment,” the triple world champion told the Mail on Sunday newspaper.

“Really, really good. Surprisingly,” added the Briton. “I would definitely not have expected it to be where it is.”

Rosberg has won five of the eight races so far this season, including the first four, and the German is now 24 points ahead of Hamilton after also winning the first grand prix in Azerbaijan last weekend.

The pair collided in Spain, with both retiring from the race immediately, and had another minor coming together at the start in Canada.

They have been friends and rivals since their early teenage years but the relationship was tested to breaking point as they battled for the title in 2014 and 2015 -- with Hamilton triumphant both times.

In Belgium two years ago they were barely on speaking terms after a collision.

Hamilton said the marked improvement since then was partly down to age and maturity, with Rosberg now a father, and also mutual respect and dialogue.

“Whether we’re unhappy about something or not, we discuss it face to face,” he said. “If I have a problem, I knock on his door and ask if I can speak to him privately. We never address it publicly or in front of the team.

“We say straight up ‘Hey man, I wasn’t cool with that’. And he does that to me as often as I do to him.”

Hamilton explained how he had been swimming in the communal pool in his Monaco apartment block when Rosberg came down and joined him.

“I guess he saw me from his apartment and came down and sat on the diving board and when I finished a few laps, we sat and talked for 20 minutes or half an hour, in a relaxed state,” said the champion.

“We are going to have our ups and downs and there are going to be times where we hate each other and when we like each other but ultimately when we have all retired and got kids and stuff, the respect is always going to be there.”

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Clare Fallon