The tense relationship between Formula 1 rivals Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg is “very different” to that of Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna in their McLaren days (ABOVE), according to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.
The personal battle between Mercedes teammates Hamilton and Rosberg descended into bitter acrimony during last weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, where Hamilton felt Rosberg had deliberately run down the escape road in qualifying to bring out yellow flags and spoil Hamilton’s attempt to snatch pole.
Hamilton suggested he would deal with the situation by taking a “page out of Senna’s book”, leading to further comparisons with the bitter rivalry that dominated F1 in the late ’80s and early ’90s, though Hamilton later said this was intended as a joke.
The 2008 world champion also complained about Mercedes’ strategy during the race, feeling he should have been allowed to pit earlier than his teammate in order to try to pass him, and the pair refused to speak to each other on the podium after the race, leading to criticism from Mercedes executive Niki Lauda.
Wolff played down the historical comparison with Prost and Senna, despite the obvious tension between his drivers.
“There have been a lot of comparisons to the Senna/Prost scenario, which is a kind of compliment to Lewis and Nico, but the situation here is very different,” Wolff said on the team’s official website. “The racing philosophy of Mercedes is to allow our drivers to compete: we let the boys play with their toys, unless they break them.
“It can be pretty tense when they are racing so hard, but the drivers know we will not tolerate any incident.”
Wolff also reckons the fact Rosberg was not found guilty of any wrongdoing by the Monaco stewards suggests no underhand tactics were employed in order for him to gain an edge on Hamilton.
“The race stewards are the impartial authority. They saw the data, they gave Nico a pretty good grilling and they found no reason to believe it was anything other than a mistake, so in that situation you have to believe it was an honest mistake,” Wolff added.
“Within the team we are transparent with our data and we give our drivers equal equipment and equal opportunity to succeed. We have fair processes in place to handle things like which driver runs first on the road in qualifying, or who has the priority with race strategy.
“We constantly question any area in which we think we can improve but we are not planning to make any changes. Our priority at every race is that a Silver Arrows wins, not which driver wins.”