Formula 1

Mercedes chief Toto Wolff reveals how he managed Nico Rosberg-Lewis Hamilton rivalry

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A rivalry between teammates expresses healthy competition within the team that ultimately benefits all involved in the long run.

However, there are numerous instances in Formula One where a team has favoured one of the two drivers, hailing him as the premier ahead of the other.

Such was not the case at Mercedes, according to the executive director Toto Wolff.

Mercedes won their third constructors' title in as many years, alongside Lewis Hamilton winning twice in the process and Nico Rosberg being crowned champion of 2016 last month.

Both Hamilton and Rosberg have had their share of laughs as well as altercations during their time with Mercedes.

But, it was the work behind the scenes that played a pivotal part in maintaining the balance in the rivalry.

In an exclusive interview to Autosport, days before the shock retirement of Rosberg, Wolff disclosed some insights into how the team worked in order to perpetuate the decorum within the team.

He said: “What we have achieved is that, after four years of working with two of the best drivers, we were able to hold it together."

He admitted that there was inevitably an intense competition for supremacy between the duo, but unlike previous infamous examples, the cohesiveness of the team was crucial in keeping things under control.

“In history, when two superstars were put together, it held a year or two then ended in tears.We had hiccups and moments that were difficult to manage, but fundamentally we were able to hold it together.

“Recognising there is a very intense rivalry is important and we do this as a team.We don't need to over-manage and, equally, they realise there is a very big effort from the people in the background.”

The Austrian also acknowledges the fact that the UK-based outfit learned from the mistakes over the years, ultimately guaranteeing both drivers work well together.

Despite reports of sabotage within the team, Wolff denounced such claims, stressing that transparency was the key to their success in the last few campaigns.

He added: “You just need to learn from your own mistakes and the mistakes of others. We invest time in the partnership with the driver and transparency is one important feature.

“There is no such thing as a hidden agenda here, everything is put on the table and discussed.”

Asked what has been the reason for extremities of both in their showings in recent seasons, Wolff is of the opinion that there isn’t any logical reasoning but only ‘the human factor’ involved.

“I don't understand it, I've stopped trying to.

“One does well on a weekend and why the other isn't is because it's humans in the car - the best of their species.

“There are good and bad days ad a track might not suit them. Then it comes down to putting it all together and that's why we've seen this ebb and flow.

“There's no pattern, we have phases where Nico won eight races, where Lewis had a winning streak and then we had it going back and forth.

“Let's not try to analyse it as there is no scientific reason.”

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