Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is eager for the team to avoid another intense rivalry between team-mates like they had between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, but insists that ‘games’ are not being played by the Brit and his current team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
Both Hamilton and Bottas have made stellar starts to the 2019 F1 season and have collected two wins each out of the opening four races, with the latter leading the driver’s championship by one point.
There is a sense of a positive relationship between the duo despite being championship rivals - something which was not the case when Hamilton and Rosberg were battling for the title in 2016.
“You have two drivers that have the ambition and the ability to win a championship,” said Wolff.
“It’s up to us together with them to be very aware of that situation and remember that very quickly Vettel or [Charles] Leclerc could be back into the game, that we mustn’t be carried away with the four first results — there are 21 races to do.
“That definitely the relationship matters in order to avoid what we went through between Nico and Lewis.
“I think we are lucky that they [Hamilton and Bottas] have a very good relationship. 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.”
Wolff says it is important to find the balance between being a good team-mate and also being “feisty” behind the wheel to try and win races.
“Both of the drivers have an ambition to win the championship. We want them to be feisty — is that how you say it? — in the car. Lions in the car, so you can’t expect the behaviour 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. after Nico and Lewis, we will ensure we would issue yellow and red cards. But we are far, we are not there.”
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