In Depth

Does Lewis Hamilton have any friends left in F1?

Another season, another drama for the Mercedes driver, but he still has some allies in the paddock

An already exciting F1 season got a whole lot spicier last month when Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel fell out in spectacular fashion at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku.

The pair were at daggers drawn after the German deliberately rammed his Mercedes rival during the race believing he had been "brake-tested".

Hamilton was so incensed he even appeared to challenge Vettel to a fight.

But if one man knows his way round a feud it's Hamilton. In 2008, during his first season as a F1 driver, he fell out so badly with McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso that the Spaniard ended up quitting the team.

Since then there have been spats with Felipe Massa,  Jenson Button and fellow Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, who walked away from Formula 1 after beating Hamilton to the title last season.

Away from the track, the British driver has had his fair share of dramas too. In 2012, he was labelled a "coward" by his former best friend Adrian Sutil after refusing to testify on his behalf during a court case, the following year he ended his 15-year association with mentor Ron Dennis to join Mercedes and then, in 2015, he and on-off girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger finally broke up. 

So with a history of bad blood behind him, who does Hamilton have left in his corner - and who might he fall out with next?

Toto Wolff - Mercedes team principal

Wolff should be Hamilton's biggest backer, but there have been moments of tension between them. He has shied away from criticising the driver, although he seemed close to the end of his tether last season as the relationship between Hamilton and Rosberg collapsed.

Wolff and Hamilton held talks and the German told Autosport: "You cannot on one side expect to have the most ambitious driver in the car that will score the result that you are trying to achieve and on the other side expect them to be corporate robots.

"Nico and Lewis, and it's the same for Valtteri [Bottas], understand the huge effort that's being made behind them to deliver those cars and they understand the responsibility towards the brand and all these people they represent."

Was that a veiled warning to Hamilton?

Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes team-mate

Hamilton does not have a great track record of getting on with his team-mates, as Alonso, Button and Rosberg can confirm. There were worrying signs that this may be continuing when, before the start of the season, he made it clear he was unhappy about data sharing within the Mercedes team.

He later insisted he had "zero problems" with Bottas, but if the Finn notches many more wins, as he did at the Russian Grand Prix, there could be trouble ahead.

Daniel Ricciardo - Red Bull driver

The Australian has pulled off some stunning moves on the track - and also off it. One of the most impressive came when he kissed and made up with Hamilton after the pair collided during the Hungarian grand Prix in 2015, with the Brit even accepting he had been below par during the race.

Famously, Hamilton has few friends among the other drivers, but these two appear to get on and have even exchanged "bantz" on Twitter.

Bernie Ecclestone - ousted F1 ringleader

The man who single-handedly ran Formula 1 for more than 40 years was one of Hamilton's biggest fans, calling him "the best world champion we've had".

Since the sport was taken over by Liberty Media, Ecclestone has been sidelined and at the age of 86 is a fading force. Nevertheless, he remains one of the most influential figures in F1 and a good man to have on your side.

Anthony Hamilton - father

Blood is thicker than water and Hamilton's father Anthony has been a key figure in the driver's rise to the pinnacle of motorsport. He masterminded his son's career from the age of 13 and was there when Hamilton won his first title in 2008

Things seemed to be unravelling when Hamilton dispensed with his father's services as manager in 2010, amid reports of a falling out, but Anthony Hamilton is now back in the paddock.

"There is a fine line between being a parent and a manager," Hamilton's father told CNN last year.

Roscoe and Coco - dogs

If there is one thing Hamilton can rely on it is the love of his two bulldogs, Roscoe and Coco. The pair have their own Instagram account with 134,000 followers, while Roscoe even made an appearance alongside his owner in an advert for L'Oreal.

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