Tuesday, August 16, 2022
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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff had Lewis Hamilton chat in kitchen to prevent Brit quitting team


Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has come clean on a lengthy chat with Lewis Hamilton that may have changed the course of his career. The Brit and his boss were in the midst of a frosty patch in their professional relationship, and it was all put to bed in an unlikely location. 

Mercedes were at their most dominant in 2016, a year in which they won all but two of the Grand Prix on offer. 

It was also the season that saw tensions between Hamilton and team-mate Nico Rosberg reach a dramatic peak. 

With Rosberg carrying a healthy lead into the high-stakes Abu Dhabi finale, a Hamilton win was not enough on its own to clinch the title. 

So while leading, the Brit backed up the German in an attempt to see him tumble down the pack, defying team orders in the process. 

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Hamilton admitted after the race, which ultimately saw Rosberg do enough to prevail before announcing his retirement, that he was forced into a position where he had to ‘help himself’ – much to the displeasure of Wolff who recently told The Times how the incident almost saw Hamilton ditch the Silver Arrows. 

“We met at the Christmas party in my home in Oxfordshire that December, reluctantly,” he said.

“I said we need to decide whether we want to work together or not. ‘You want to win as a driver, I want to win as a team’.

“Sometimes our different agendas are going to lead to conflict and we need to decide whether we can cope with that situation.

“I said to him that even though Susie [Wolff] and I might disagree about something, it would never come into my mind to divorce.

“‘And it’s the same with you Lewis,’ I said. ‘I don’t want a divorce. You’re the best driver. I want you in our car and we want to provide you with the best car.’

“We kind of went into this discussion at loggerheads and then, after four or five hours in the kitchen, we found ourselves on a totally different level.

“A purely business related relationship had become a personal relationship. He’s a friend.

“[It] doesn’t mean we don’t argue anymore but now, Lewis’s success is the team’s success, and the team’s success is Lewis’s success.”

Wolff and Hamilton’s relationship was put under more stress in 2021 when the Brit became embroiled in a ferocious title battle with Max Verstappen. 

Although the Dutchman came out on top, the Mercedes camp appeared solid in opposition to their common rival, Red Bull. 

During the off-season, Hamilton’s prolonged silence was interpreted by many as another brush with an exit from the Silver Arrows, and indeed the sport as a whole. 

But the comeback is on, and with two three-day tests in Barcelona and Bahrain throwing up mixed results for the team’s new W13, it may be a team effort to get Hamilton, Wolff and indeed George Russell back on top. 



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