In 2014, sweeping regulation and technical changes arrived in Formula 1 and it was Mercedes who got their new cars right most out of everyone in the field.
Indeed, that laid the foundations for an unprecedented era of dominance in the sport with every Drivers’ and Constructors’ title won by the Silver Arrows in the years since.
It’s not always been plain sailing, however, with drivers Hamilton and Rosberg regularly clashing during their time as teammates as both vied for supremacy on the track.
Indeed, speaking to the High Performance Podcast – which GMS has an exclusive partnership with – Wolff revealed that the negative atmosphere the relationship the two drivers were causing was beginning to impact the team, and it’s something he wants to avoid from now on.
“If the debriefing room is full of negativity because the two drivers are hostile with each other, then that would spill over into the energy in the room and that is not something that I will ever allow again.”
Being easily the best car on the grid back in 2014, it was the chance for both drivers to win the World Championship and, of course, they knew the only man standing in their way was the one across the garage.
When asked if negative energy began to spread into the wider outfit, he said: “Yeah, that happened, but 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 was a lot of historical context that nobody of us knew and will never know. How do the drivers work with each other? What happens in the case of failure of one and the other?”
Wolff was also asked what he did to try and improve the relationship, or at least stop it from seeping into other areas of the garage.
“It was very difficult because I came into the team as a newcomer in Formula One, and Nico and Lewis had been in the sport for much longer, but still I was able to create an environment where they had to respect the team, sometimes with an iron fist, and they understood that they couldn’t let us down. They couldn’t let Mercedes down.
In the events of 2014, I felt there was some selfish behaviour. I said, the next time you come close to the other car, you think about the Mercedes brand, you think about single individuals in the team, you think about the CEO of Mercedes. That’s going to change the way you act.
“You’re not going to put your teammate into the wall. And I always made clear that if this were to happen regularly then I have no fear in making somebody miss races. So maybe in some ways that period was a really important period for the team because you know, that’s a place you don’t want to go back to.”
Certainly, it was in 2014 where we saw this rivalry really begin to increase in intensity.
Both knew they had a big shot at the championship and, indeed, in the seasons to follow in both 2015 and 2016 we saw incidents between the two as the Mercs’ dominance of the sport continued.
Ultimately, the relationship ended in 2016 as Rosberg followed up Hamilton’s two titles with one of his own and decided to leave the grid, seeing Mercedes replace him with Valtteri Bottas.
You’d argue, too, that Mercedes has looked a happier place since and, as Wolff says, it’s not something that they want to go back to ever again, for obvious reasons.
For more incredibly insightful interviews with elite sportsmen, women and entrepreneurs, make sure you subscribe to the High Performance Podcast on iTunes.