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The Lewis Hamilton-Nico Rosberg friendship/rivalry/feud took yet another turn this week with a "row" over nationality.
Rosberg was born in Germany to a Finnish father and German mother, but moved to Monaco when he was four months old. He holds dual German-Finnish nationality.
Speaking to The Guardian's Paul Weaver, Brit Hamilton—fresh from winning his home grand prix—said:
To be honest, Nico has never been in Germany, so he’s not really German. I remember when we used to race during karting, he never stood next to a German flag—not ever.
We would have to go on the start line and all the drivers would have to stand next to a grid girl in a line. The girls would be holding the flags or a sign saying Hungary or whatever, and he always stood by the Monaco one. He never stood by a German flag. He is German-Finnish-Monaco-esque, or whatever. So it would be great to win in Germany.
The paper reported it as a "jibe," but it later turned out Rosberg was present when the comments were made and wasn't at all bothered by them.
He did, though, affirm that he considered himself German, with his own home race just over a week away.
He told Sky F1:
I was actually there when he said it and I think it was actually the person interviewing who said those questions and Lewis didn’t really answer much really.
I didn’t grow up in Germany so I guess I am not as British as he is, but I consider myself 100% German.
So there was no jibe, row or argument—just another Hamilton comment blown out of proportion. The fight on the track appears to be immeasurably more real than the fight off it.
But interestingly, in a 2005 interview with Finland's Helsingin Sanomat, Rosberg spoke of his nationality and sense of belonging. He said he considered himself "European," and added:
When my win here was celebrated with the playing of the German national anthem, it felt kind of weird to me. I don't have that sense of belonging, either to Germany or to Finland. Maybe when I'm driving races I sort of feel a stronger pull towards Finland, since it reminds me of my father's achievements in the sport.
That was of course nine years ago and viewpoints can and do change. But maybe those with dual nationalities have two answers to certain questions, depending on who asks them.