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Wolff: How 2016 tension led to current Hamilton/Mercedes relationship

Written by  Jan 02, 2019

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff believes the close relationship between the team and Lewis Hamilton can be traced back to the end of 2016.

Tensions ran very high following the final race that year after Hamilton had ignored a team order to increase his pace in an effort to beat Nico Rosberg to the championship.

Some even wondered if the Briton might leave Mercedes with the German becoming champion, instead, it was Rosberg who retired leaving Hamilton to lead alongside Valtteri Bottas.

"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."

Now the 33-year-old sits a five-time champion having won the two titles since and the memories of 2016 are long gone.

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His achievements are now also drawing comparisons to the all-time greats and offering his view, Wolff does puts Hamilton's success down to his life approach.

"I think that what is happening is that he constantly develops, there is no standstill," the Austrian claimed.

"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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