Nico Rosberg has offered Sebastian Vettel an invite to the Mercedes garage at the next race in Malaysia after a verbal exchange between the duo turned tetchy.
Rosberg finished runner-up to Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the season-opening grand prix in Australia on Sunday, with Vettel a distant third - over 30 seconds back – on his debut for Ferrari.
There is clear evidence from the first weekend of the new Formula One season that Mercedes are poised to dominate the campaign – as was the case last year when they won 16 of 19 races, and were on pole at 18.
It resulted in Hamilton and Rosberg being asked whether they could see any of their rivals challenging their supremacy at any point this year.
Rosberg replied: “I hope we can have a good fight. That would be awesome.
“I think the next couple of races we’re going to be leading the way, and we’re going to try and keep it that way.
“But we know it would be good if they (Ferrari) can come a bit closer, as long as they don’t come too close...”
Such a response did not cut any ice with Vettel, who interrupted with: “Be honest! Do you really hope so? Seriously?
“You finished 30 seconds ahead of us and you hope it’s going to be closer? So you hope you slow down? Is that what you’re saying?”
Caught off guard, Rosberg said: “I hope you can give us a challenge because it’s important for the sport and for the fans.
“I do think about the show. Half of me – or a part of me – thinks about the show because I want to give people a great time at home watching on TV or at the track.
“If you do come a bit closer, that would be awesome for everybody.”
Quick as a flash, Vettel countered: “First suggestion, if you don’t mind, I think your garage becomes public for Malaysia and everyone can have a look. No? I’m joking.”
But a serious Rosberg said: “You can come if you want – we can invite you.”
Vettel: “Okay, thank you for the invite, I’ll come.”
Rosberg: “Friday, Malaysia, okay.”
Vettel: “Engineers’ room? Debrief – I’ll be there.”