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Mercedes team boss had to rule with ‘iron hand’ to keep rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in check

Lewis Hamilton, Toto Wolff in Nico Rosberg
Photo: Daimler Media

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff says he had to hit the ‘iron hand’ at the height of the rivalry between his two drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were teammates at Mercedes for four years and they had a long history together. But the friendship soon gave way to a rivalry that, according to Toto Wolff, did not really bring out the best in both drivers, the Austrian says in the podcast ‘High Performance’ by Jake Humphrey.

Negative atmosphere in the team
“I’m not sure if that brings out the best in a rider because there is negativity and in the end you have to be a team player,” said Wolff.

“There is a negative atmosphere during the debriefings because the riders are hostile towards each other and that passes into the atmosphere in the room. That is something that I will never allow again. ”

Toto Wolff was not responsible for bringing Hamilton and Rosberg together as teammates and that didn’t exactly make things any easier.

Toto Wolff did not determine the driver duo himself
“There was nothing I could do about it because the drivers were already contracted when I arrived,” continues Wolff. “Had no one really thought about what the dynamics would be between the two riders? There was already a whole history of which no one knew anything and never will. ”

“We accept the annoyance and the pain when things go wrong, but we always have to ensure that there is a positive dynamic in the team.”

Hitting the table with an ‘iron hand’
Ultimately, Wolff did manage to make his drivers see that they were representatives of Mercedes, but he had to hit the table with the ‘iron hand’ from time to time.

“It was not easy because I entered F1 as a newcomer while Nico and Lewis had been in the sport for some time. But still I managed to create an atmosphere where they respected the team, sometimes with an iron hand, but they understood that they should not disappoint us, that they should not disappoint Mercedes. ”

Team comes first
“During the incidents in 2014, I felt there was some self-centered behavior. I said the next time you come close to the other car, to your teammate, think about the Mercedes brand. ”

“You think of individuals in the team. You think of Dieter Zetsche, the CEO of Mercedes. That is going to change the way you act, you are not going to push your teammate into the wall. ”

“I’ve always made it clear that if this was going to happen regularly and there was a pattern, I have no fear of letting anyone miss a few races.”

Despite everything, it still came to a dramatic collision in 2016 during the first round of the GP of Spain. Hamilton and Rosberg collided and crashed, it was the start of the spectacular race in which Max Verstappen took his first F1 victory.

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