Wolff: Dealing with Hamilton/Rosberg clashes "tiring"

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that dealing with the controversial clashes between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg has been 'tiring' this year, but is a price worth paying for his team's ongoing success in Formula 1.

Wolff: Dealing with Hamilton/Rosberg clashes "tiring"
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 and Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Polesitter Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1, second position Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates his pole position in parc ferme with second placed team mate Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and team mate Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid at the start of the race
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and team mate Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid at the start of the race
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid leads team mate Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid leads team mate Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid at the start of the race
Toto Wolff, Mercedes AMG F1 Shareholder and Executive Director

Although the German car manufacturer in on course for its third consecutive title double, with Hamilton and Rosberg having won all but one race so far this season, the campaign has not been without drama.

Collisions between Hamilton and Rosberg in Spain and Austria, and raised tensions after a first corner brush in Montreal, were enough for the team to eventually impose strict deterrent measures on the drivers to ensure there is no further trouble in future.

But despite acknowledging that the incidents have caused unnecessary hassle, Wolff thinks it is a better problem to have than not being competitive.

"I look back at the first half of the season as a positive half because as you said, winning almost every race is definitely what we have hoped to achieve," he told Motorsport.com when asked to reflect on the highs and lows of the first half of the season.

"The controversies and rivalries are certainly something that is not always easy to manage. We accept that, and we acknowledge that it is something which comes from the fact we have two number one drivers who are provided equal material and equal opportunity.

"But it consumes a lot of our time, and that could have an affect long-term. On a positive note, as long as it doesn't happen every race weekend, it has provided some of the narrative of this year's championship.

"My feelings are clear. I would rather avoid it, and avoid some of the headlines, and rather win the races – but I guess we are in the entertainment industry."

He added: "If the teammates are always on the same row of the grid and that happens to be the first row, and it is about winning races and a competition to win the championship, that can spill over.

"Next year it could be totally different – it could be a battle between four or six drivers or even more and then your two drivers would be split most of the time.

"So it is a nice problem to have, but sometimes a tiring one."

Sticking together

Having enjoyed a spell between Belgium 2014 and Spain this year where the drivers had avoided major contact, Wolff is disappointed that there have been two incidents this season.

However, he says that the situation needs to be put into context, and that the team deserves praise for having kept the Hamilton/Rosberg relationship together for nearly four years when history shows such competitive rivalries between team-mates have been impossible for others to maintain.

"We have made it last four seasons," he said. "Fighting for a championship in a competitive car, if you look at some of the other examples in history they haven't made it last more than two years, so I am actually quite proud of the team about how we got to manage it.

"And you need to balance constantly between the positive effect it has in terms of performance, of great drivers pushing each other to new levels and making the car go quicker, and then the downside of a rivalry that always bears the risk of spilling over into the team and damaging the spirit within the team.

"That is a balance that we permanently do. At the moment it is still positive."

Canada harsh

Although the collisions in Spain and Austria grabbed the headlines, Wolff thinks that Montreal was just as 'harsh' a moment when Hamilton and Rosberg banged wheels.

"Spain came a bit as a surprise because a complete wipe out with a car that is capable of providing a 1-2 is something that I haven't experienced before and certainly most of the team members haven't experienced before," he said.

"Then it also provided the story for a future champion to score his first win. Although it was not what we would have expected, it gave F1 a positive spin.

"Nevertheless it is not our duty or main objective to create stories, we would rather avoid those headlines.

"We felt that maybe from time to time it was necessary. If you reach the limits, this is what can happen and neither of them certainly did it on purpose. It was unfortunate coincidences on both sides.

"But then Montreal was a bit of a harsh one. We came out of it okay and then Austria was just something we thought couldn't happen any more because the lesson was learned. But clearly the lesson wasn't learned."

He added: "You don't want to have a guard dog in the car and then expect them to be over-cautious. Nevertheless we expect them to respect the effort behind. And they do that.

"I think each of the incidents has an explanation, but at a certain stage – and this is what we did after Austria, we decided that we don't want to analyse any more. We just don't want contact."

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