Monaco highlights rivals' contrasting roots
Lewis Hamilton spent his youth dreamily plotting his path from Peartree Way to Monte Carlo, the venue for this weekend's race, the most famous of all. Nico Rosberg simply looked out of his classroom window down at the paddock.
From his father's yellow living room in Stevenage, Hamilton watched in awe as his idol, Ayrton Senna, won here six times, a record he could not hope to match.
However considerable his prodigious talent, Monaco might always have been out of reach. It helps explain why, with another £100m in the bank over the next three years, he looks every bit the rags-to-riches part. The architecture of his latest hairstyle, the glistening gold beads round his neck: it all fits the bill.
"I think about it every day, really, how far I've come," Hamilton reflected yesterday. "I've been here in Monaco the last two weeks, and when I wake up and I go out onto my balcony and look over Monaco, I think, 'This is just crazy'. I do have the coolest job."
For Rosberg it has been a different journey, one which helps explain the vastly contrasting characters and tastes of these two adversaries. Formula One was so close when he was a child he could pretty much touch it. He told me before last season his first memory of the sport is waking up on a yacht in the Monaco harbour to the roar of Senna's 1988 McLaren coming out of the tunnel.
"My mum drove me through the tunnels to school so my route was the racetrack," Rosberg remembers.
"My school was right over the paddock a couple of floors up. It was the time when the mechanics had to push the cars up the hill to the top, so I couldn't concentrate."
As all racing drivers do, Hamilton and Rosberg have sought to push the bitterness of 12 months ago to the recesses of their mind.
"I don't have any feelings or negativity about that," Hamilton said. "I'm obviously aware of it, but it feels like a tiny thing in the past. I feel bigger than that." (© Daily Telegraph, London)