Formula 1


Toto Wolff encourages Lewis Hamilton-Valtteri Bottas rivalry

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Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff has confessed that 'stress', 'tension' and 'disruption' between his drivers may actually be required to extend Mercedes' dominance over the rest of the field.

The statement comes a bit of a surprise after an issue-free season with their new driver pairing of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

Their relationship was a stark contrast to the bitter rivalry that engulfed the Mercedes garage for the three previous years when Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton - once childhood friends - saw their partnership deteriorate during their battle for the title.

The Mercedes camp was bitterly divided throughout the pair's three years together, although this never prevented the team from finding success. Both men went on to win the drivers' championships and the British-based team also dominated the constructors' championships.

With Rosberg retiring after winning last season's Driver's Championships, many wondered how the Hamilton-Bottas pairing would play out.

And, as it turned out, there was nothing to worry about as the pairing drove the team to their 4th consecutive constructors' championship without any significant controversy. In fact, the duo appeared to get on far better than Hamilton and Rosberg ever did.

However, Mercedes boss Wolff isn't completely against some healthy competition between drivers and admitted it can provoke a positive reaction on the track.

"I don't think we need to avoid a stressful situation," Wolff told Motorsport. "We need to acknowledge that, if two team-mates can fight for race wins and a championship, that this will be a rivalry."

F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi

Wolff has effectively advised Bottas to take the fight to Lewis Hamilton next season after remaining in a largely supporting role this year and thinks that will force both to raise their game.

"We are not trying to build a new family here, we want to be the most effective racing team, and an effective racing team needs stress, needs tension, needs disruption as much as it needs calmness and a positive attitude and mindset.

"But like everywhere in life you want to have the mix of both, probably the recipe for success."

Given what happened between Hamilton and Rosberg, however, you'd be forgiven for thinking Wolff is asking for trouble by trying to spark a more intense rivalry in 2018.

Nico Rosberg
Valterri Bottas
Lewis Hamilton
Formula 1

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