Bottas changed Mercedes’ opinion on team-mates
Valtteri Bottas’ working relationship with Lewis Hamilton has caused Mercedes to reconsider its approach to intra-team rivalries, says team boss Toto Wolff.
Hamilton and 2016 Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg experienced an increasingly acrimonious relationship during the German’s tenure.
Multiple controversies developed between the two, concerning the use of engine modes, pit strategy, on-track collisions, personnel swaps between the garages, and how the team managed their rivalry away from the circuit.
However, the team maintained that the tension spurred each to greater heights on the track.
Hamilton has credited improved harmony within the team in 2017 as a major part of his championship success, and Wolff feels a healthier working relationship between Bottas and Hamilton proved crucial in helping Mercedes beat Ferrari to both titles.
“Nico put us in front of a fate accompli – there was not even a discussion (about retiring) – and it was difficult to find the right driver, but we gave it some time to decide and eventually we got just the right guy into the team,” Wolff told Autosport.
“In the past I always believed that a very fierce rivalry between team-mates would be good for the team because they would be pushing each other.
“The lesson I learned is that is probably not true – you need two team-mates that perform at a high level that keep pushing each other in the car, but the rivalry shouldn’t spill over into controversy outside of the car.
“The mindset and the relationship between the two made us stronger, gave an open and honest environment, and fundamentally our very fast, difficult car we got it into a good place also because the two worked so well together.
“The dynamic between Valtteri and Lewis made us develop the car in a very efficient way and made us win the two championships, so not for one second do I regret where we are today.”