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Wolff reveals he threatened Hamilton and Rosberg with race suspension during feudal heyday

Wolff reveals he threatened Hamilton and Rosberg with race suspension during feudal heyday

F1 News

Wolff reveals he threatened Hamilton and Rosberg with race suspension during feudal heyday

Wolff reveals he threatened Hamilton and Rosberg with race suspension during feudal heyday

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has revealed he threatened Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg with race suspensions at the height of their bitter feud in 2014.

That season saw the once-friendly relationship between the two drivers descend into a fractious fall-out as they battled each other on track, culminating in their collision in the Belgian Grand Prix.

It was and remains one of the most difficult periods of Wolff's tenure in charge, and which resulted in him adopting extreme tactics in order to get them to behave.

Speaking on 'The High Performance Podcast' about the duo's "selfish behaviour" in 2014, Wolff remarked: "I said the next time you come close to the other car, your team-mate, think about the Mercedes brand, think about individuals within the team, think about Dieter Zetsche, the [then] CEO of Mercedes, then that's going to change the way you act. You're not going to put your team-mate into the wall.

"And I always made clear if this were to happen regularly, and I would see a pattern, then I had no fear making somebody miss races."

Suggested to Wolff it was a place neither driver wanted to go, he replied: "Absolutely. The thing the drivers want the most is to compete in the car, and you always need to be very clear you compete in the car if you understand the team's game.

"It's much more difficult because there are only two drivers, it's not easy to find a replacement on that level, but I'm prepared to sacrifice a race or two to make it clear for all future generations who are going to drive for Mercedes that that's not on."

Wolff suggested there were numerous occasions when the "negativity" between the duo dragged the team down, insisting it is "not something I will ever allow again" and that he will make changes to the driver line-up should it do so.

Wolff added: "I couldn't change it because the drivers were hired before I came.

"Nobody actually thought 'What is the dynamic between the two? What is the past between the two?' There was a lot of historical context that none of us knew and will never know.

"And that's something we are looking at - how do the drivers work with each other; what happens in the case of failure of one or the other.

"We accept the annoyance and pain if it goes against one. We are still trying to keep the positive dynamic within the team, and if it wouldn't function any more, that's fine. If we were to fail again, that's fine, but we are changing the driver line-up.

"It was very difficult because I came into the team as a newcomer in Formula 1, and Nico and Lewis had been in the sport for much longer.

"But still, I was able to create an environment where they had to respect the team, sometimes with an iron fist, or iron grip, and they understood they couldn't let us down, they couldn't let Mercedes down."

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