Formula 1

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Toto Wolff says a talk with Alain Prost helped him manage Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg

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It’s likely to be some time until Formula 1 fans see a teammate rivalry like the one between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

The pair occupied Mercedes’ two seats from 2013 to 2016, though neither of them was ever in contention for the world title during their first season alongside each other.

But that certainly changed the following year.

The 2014 campaign saw Hamilton and Rosberg finish first and second in 11 of the 19 races before the former pipped his colleague to the crown by 67 points.

As one can imagine, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff had a difficult task on his hands in keeping his two drivers competitive without being conflicting.

“You realise that both of them are complete alpha drivers. Both of them want to attempt to win the world championship, neither of them are slotted in as a number two,” he said, per crash.net.

“It is a little bit like a volcano that has started to shake and then eventually erupts.

“Every single controversy grew into something bigger and that became quite a distraction for the team to manage.

“Because we are humans it always gets complicated emotionally because at times you like one [driver] more than the other - and that is completely normal.”

However, it seems one particular conversation went a long way towards helping Wolff control what could’ve become a damaging situation.

AUTO-PRIX-F1-UAE-PODIUM

“I had a discussion with Alain Prost back in 2014 which gave me a good learning,” he said.

“I asked him the question about what went wrong between him and [Ayrton] Senna. Two great drivers saw their relationship breaking down and ending in collision on track.”

Similar to that of Hamilton and Rosberg, Prost and Senna harboured a feud as teammates in the late 1980s, so it’s no surprise Wolff took a lot from hearing how McLaren chose to handle those two.

“He said the biggest problem for him was the transparency of the management. They never knew what the agenda of the senior management in McLaren was.

“You never knew if you were in or out, whether you were the flavour of the month or not, whether there were politics against you or not.

F1 Grand Prix of Brazil

HOW WOLFF ADDRESSED IT

“What I tried to implement very early in the team was the ultimate transparency - we talk about things. Sometimes it’s the inconvenient truth - things you don’t want to hear.

“Over time, over the years, we got to know each other better, we started to trust each other and the inconvenient truth is something that can be very helpful in helping you to achieve your objectives,” he added.

“You just put it all out. Sometimes you agree, sometimes you agree to disagree and then at least understand each other’s standpoint. This is very important and this is how we handled the situation with Nico and Lewis.

“It wasn’t me alone, in the process there were many others in the team that were really helpful and managed it in the same way I did.”

Prost and Senna shared a title each during their two years at McLaren, whereas Hamilton and Rosberg won three titles during their four seasons in an extremely competitive field.

While it seemed ugly at times, Wolff and his Mercedes colleagues actually did a remarkable job in hindsight.

Topics:
Nico Rosberg
Toto Wolff
Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes
Formula 1

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