Toto Wolff admits he is working to avoid a repeat of the tension that existed between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton with the defending champion and Valtteri Bottas this season.
Rosberg and Hamilton’s relationship deteriorated during the three seasons from 2014 onwards, culminating in Rosberg’s championship win and immediate retirement from Formula 1 in 2016. With Bottas now leading the drivers’ championship by a point and challenging Hamilton in both qualifying and races, Wolff says he sees similarities and wants to avoid any negativity from the pair.
“It reminds me a little bit of the (Rosberg and Hamilton) situation,” Wolff said. “You have two drivers that have the ambition and the ability to win a championship, and it’s up to us together with them to be very aware of that situation and remember that very quickly (Sebastian) Vettel or (Charles) Leclerc could be back into the game.
“That means we mustn’t be carried away with the four first results — there are 21 races to do — and that definitely the relationship matters in order to avoid what we went through between Nico and Lewis.”
Wolff says he is using lessons learned from the situation between Hamilton and Rosberg to ensure that he can head off any deterioration in the relationship between the current line-up.
“I think we are lucky that they have a very good relationship,” he said. “They get on with each other. There is not a lot of games in the background, and I am very happy about that. But as a matter of fact you have to be conscious. We have seen a relationship deteriorate. Both of the drivers have an ambition to win the championship.
“We want them to be feisty in the car, lions in the car, so you can’t expect the behavior of a sheep. But equally, the respect needs to stay in there.
“We are very strong as a team and we wouldn’t allow a relationship between drivers to deteriorate to a point that it has a negative effect on the team if that would ever be the case. Again, after Nico and Lewis, we will ensure we have our own red cards. But we are far, we are not there.”