Wolff and Hamilton ‘needed their time’ after tense 2016 season

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says the seeds of his strong relationship with Lewis Hamilton were sowed in the aftermath of the Silver Arrows’ tense 2016 season.

Managing the massively competitive rapport between Hamilton and arch-rival Nico Rosberg back then required a delicate balancing act from Wolff, one that took its toll at times on the team’s unity.

Hamilton was beaten to the title by Rosberg in 2016, a defeat that left the Brit and the German squad’s boss at odds over a few issues, a state of affairs that later required a salutary clearing of the air between the two men.

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“With Lewis, we needed our time and in hindsight, how it was with how the 2016 season ended, it gave us the best roots to grow our relationship stronger,” Wolff told Motorsport.com.

“Since then we have had mostly good moments and trust has built up. It is important for a racing driver, for myself and for the team that we can say that we trust each other and it is not lightly said.”

F1 sporting manager Ross Brawn believes that Hamilton broke through a new level in 2018, and established a new reference, just like Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna had done before him.

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But Wolff contends that the F1 star’s ability to sustain his level of performance is due to the solid personal foundation Hamilton has established in his life beyond F1.

“I think that what is happening is that he constantly develops, there is no standstill,” Wolff said.

“He is improving in every area. He is improving on track, he is improving off track, and his partnership with Tommy Hilfiger is very successful. It is one of the best performing fashion collections from the Hilfiger brand.

“So he is building up a second pillar of activity that is more than a hobby already, and therefore that has added another building block to making him a complete sportsman.

“It makes him happy. It is like the Kimi [Raikkonen] thing: it is about being happy. And if you are happy then you perform well.”

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