Would Never Allow a Lewis Hamilton-Nico Rosberg Situation at Mercedes Again: Wolff

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April 5, 2021 7:34 pm

F1 rivalries have been the heart and soul of the sport for years, from Michael Schumacher & Mika Haikkenen to Lewis Hamilton & Max Verstappen now. However, when the rivalry brims inside the same team, the outcome is never positive.

While the drivers fight between themselves for supremacy, the entire team suffers. Look no further than the case of the most bitter rivalry in F1 history – Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. Politics and hatred engulfed the McLaren team of the late 80s as they fought for the driver’s championship, with no other opponent close to them.

Formula One F1 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in action after the race Pool via REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

That repeated itself at McLaren a couple of decades later as Fernando Alonso and a rookie Hamilton butted heads. It was déjà vu for Hamilton when he faced a similar power struggle with Nico Rosberg at Mercedes. There were crashes galore and visible animosity in the press between the two.

But, can such an environment bring the best out of the drivers?

“I am not sure it can get the best of both because that is negativity. And you still have to be a team player. If the debriefing room is full of negativity because the two drivers are hostile with each other, that will spill over to the energy into the room,” said Toto Wolff on ‘The High Performance Podcast’.

“That is not something I will ever allow again.”

Watch Story – Ugliest Moments in Hamilton-Rosberg rivalry

Why Toto Wolff could not replace either Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg?

Before Toto Wolff arrived at Mercedes in 2013, Hamilton’s signature was already sealed. He assumed full responsibility for the racing operations by the end of the season.

But both Rosberg and Hamilton were under long-term deals with Mercedes by then. So, the Austrian’s hands were tied when it came to changing the driver lineup of the team.

“I couldn’t change it because the drivers were hired before I came. Nobody actually thought what is the dynamic between the two, what is the past between the two. I mean there is a lot of historic contexts that nobody of us knew and will never know.”

Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg (left) shakes hands with Lewis Hamilton as he celebrates winning the Formula One world championship during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi. (Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images)

He may be a happier man now as the team environment is much more relaxed these days. Valtteri Bottas seldom engages in psychological warfare and his relationship with Hamilton is built on respect. No wonder, he is hesitant to listen to fans’ demands and change his driver lineup.

Bharat Aggarwal

Bharat Aggarwal is a sports analyst for EssentiallySports, covering Formula 1 and NBA. His fandom for Formula One began with the 2010 Abu Dhabi GP and he fell in love with NBA after watching Dirk Nowitzki create magic on the basketball court. He is also a Manchester United fan. A Delhi University graduate, Bharat has multi-year experience in sports writing, having closely worked with the content strategy aspect as well. When he's not following Formula One or NBA, Bharat also enjoys tennis and MMA.

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