Hamilton met at Wolff’s home to clear air for 2017
Lewis Hamilton has explained how a meeting with Toto Wolff at the Mercedes Formula 1 boss’ home helped rebuild their relationship ahead of the 2017 season.
Tension rose significantly within the team during the three years in which Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were team-mates, due to on- and off-track matters including Mercedes management decisions.
The pair collided twice early in 2016, with Wolff threatening to sideline both if there was a third.
In the finale race of the season, Hamilton defied team instructions by deliberately backing Rosberg into the chasing pack.
Following Rosberg’s shock retirement after winning the championship, Hamilton met with Wolff at his team boss’s Oxfordshire home to clear the air, which Wolff felt was crucial in helping Hamilton return to his best form for this season’s title fight with Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel.
“If you are at the office and your boss doesn’t want you there it’s going to be a s##t environment, isn’t it? You want to work there but you don’t,” Hamilton explained.
“That’s just negativity drawing away from what you’re great at.
“That meeting was really important to reset things, so when I arrive and the guys know I’m going to be giving it everything, they work that extra bit harder, and vice versa.
“If there’s any negativity or question, it can only hold us back, so it was almost a purification of the relationship, and a re-start of the solid foundation we had already built years ago.”
Hamilton became the natural reference point for Mercedes at the start of 2017, given team-mate Valtteri Bottas’s relative inexperience and the fact Hamilton has been with the team since 2013, but Hamilton does not view himself as Mercedes team leader.
“I don’t look at myself as the leader of the team – I believe I am a small link in a long chain,” Hamilton added.
“We all play a key link. The key is making the link as strong as it can be and that’s what we have managed to do this year.”