Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says he is encouraging Lewis Hamilton to speak his mind as often as he wants because Formula 1 needs opinions and controversies.
Hamilton has taken to social media with increasing regularity to give his opinion on incidents in recent weeks, often using Instagram stories to post messages. After his remarkable comeback victory in the German Grand Prix, Hamilton reacted to what he described as attempts to “undermine” him from Sky Sports pundits after he watched the British broadcaster’s coverage, although he later deleted the post.
“I never get to watch the races but just got home and watching Sky,” Hamilton wrote. “I find it amusing listening to ex-drivers commentating, not a single one of them could find a good word to say. Whatever the reason is, it’s OK I forgive you.
“Positivity and love wins always and no matter what words you use to try and undermine me. I started 14th today and finished first. God is good all the time.”
“I had a conversation with him about it on Sunday night,” Wolff said. “I think it is great that someone wears his heart on his sleeve. He says things likes he means it. We are humans and have emotions and are influenced by others and what they say, and you take things personally.
“I take things personally sometimes when perhaps I shouldn’t care what the guy says whose opinion is not relevant to me, or I should respect that his opinion is different to mine. But that is very hard to do on a Sunday after an exhausting rollercoaster ride of a weekend.
“I actually encouraged him to leave all that stuff online and speak his mind. It is what we need. We need to create stories. We need controversies. We need polarizing stars.
“We don’t want to have streamlined everything. What would we talk about if we would not have topics that create controversy? Some will say that’s how it should be and others will say it should be totally different.”
Wolff would not be drawn on what had annoyed Hamilton at the time — with ex-drivers Nico Rosberg, Martin Brundle, Damon Hill and Paul di Resta all having appeared on Sky’s coverage Sunday — but after claiming Rosberg wasn’t the pundit in question, the Mercedes boss says he doesn’t believe the defending champion’s reaction to the opinions of others will have a negative effect on his performances.
“He’s that exceptional sports star because he has fine sensors and sensitivity. Sometimes when you let your guard down — and maybe such a moment is when you win such a race like on Sunday, when you did not think you could win — and you are at home and you are exuberant and you can’t sleep and you put on the TV and hear a commentator saying negative stuff, that can get to you.
“But that makes him that special individual that we talk about all the time that is able to have performance like he had in the rain in Germany. His performance when it started to get wet … he was unbelievable. He could have won the race against [Sebastian] Vettel without Vettel going off.”