How Mercedes managed Rosberg's and Hamilton's Formula 1 battle

Mercedes Formula 1 team boss Toto Wolff believes accepting there would be an intense rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg was key to successfully managing their relationship

How Mercedes managed Rosberg's and Hamilton's Formula 1 battle

During their four seasons together, the pair shared 54 grand prix wins, with Hamilton winning two world championships and Rosberg one, but despite several controversial moments and collisions the rivalry was largely kept under control.

In an interview with Autosport conducted before Nico Rosberg's shock retirement from F1, Wolff explained how the team did this.

"What we have achieved is that, after four years of working with two of the best drivers, we were able to hold it together," Wolff told Autosport.

"In history, when two superstars were put together, it held a year or two then ended in tears.

"We had hiccups and moments that were difficult to manage, but fundamentally we were able to hold it together.

"Recognising there is a very intense rivalry is important and we do this as a team.

"We don't need to over-manage and, equally, they realise there is a very big effort from the people in the background."

Mercedes also learned from the mistakes made along the way in ensuring Hamilton and Rosberg continued to work together well.

Wolff stressed that transparency also played an important part in the duo operating well together.

"You just need to learn from your own mistakes and the mistakes of others," said Wolff.

"We invest time in the partnership with the driver and transparency is one important feature.

"There is no such thing as a hidden agenda here, everything is put on the table and discussed."

Wolff added that he cannot explain the performance swings between the two drivers.

"I don't understand it, I've stopped trying to," Wolff told Autosport when asked if he understood the ebbs and flows between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

"One does well on a weekend and why the other isn't is because it's humans in the car - the best of their species.

"There are good and bad days ad a track might not suit them. Then it comes down to putting it all together and that's why we've seen this ebb and flow.

"There's no pattern, we have phases where Nico won eight races, where Lewis had a winning streak and then we had it going back and forth.

"Let's not try to analyse it as there is no scientific reason."

HAMILTON v ROSBERG: FIVE FLASHPOINTS

During their four seasons as team-mates, Hamilton and Rosberg have had some controversial moments despite the Mercedes management doing its best to prevent them.

Belgium 2014

Rosberg is running behind Hamilton on the second lap of the Belgian Grand Prix, but has a run into Les Combes and attempts to pass his team-mate around the outside.

He clips Hamilton's left-rear tyre with his front wing, suffering front wing damage. Hamilton suffers a puncture, with Daniel Ricciardo going on to win the race as a result.

Rosberg was ultimately blamed for the collision by the time, with Hamilton claiming his team-mate had allowed the clash to happen deliberately.

"We just had a meeting about it and he basically said he did it on purpose," said Hamilton after the race.

"He said he could have avoided it. He said 'I did it to prove a point'. He basically said I did it to prove a point."

Japan 2015

Rosberg attempts to go around the outside of Hamilton at Turn 2 on the first lap, but gets hung out to dry and runs wide.

He drops to fourth as a result, with both Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas overtaking him, although is able to recover to second.

This was one of a series of similar incidents that Rosberg was unimpressed with Hamilton and claimed he had to go wide to avoid a collision.

"I didn't feel it was particularly that close," said Hamilton. "The inside line is the inside line so it was my corner.

"We were very close - I was understeering, running out of grip.

"I imagine Nico ran out of road but that is what happens when you're on the outside."

Spain 2016

Rosberg passes polesitter Hamilton for the lead at the first corner, but thanks to being in the wrong engine mode he is slow off Turn 3.

Hamilton gets a run, moving to the right to attempt to pass as Rosberg defends.

The resulting collision puts both drivers out of the race, allowing Max Verstappen to claim his first F1 victory.

"It was an incident that could've been avoided by both sides," said Wolff.

Canada 2016

After both are jumped by the fast-starting Sebastian Vettel off the line, Rosberg attempts to pass Hamilton for second around the outside into Turn 1.

But the pair make contact and Rosberg is forced off track and drops to eighth.

Hamilton goes on to win the race, with Rosberg only able to recover to sixth place.

"He did a really hard racing manoeuvre and we touched and I was off.

"I was very pissed off in the moment, but that's racing and it's my job to make sure I'm in front after a battle like that next time."

Austria 2016

Hamilton passes Rosberg for the lead into the hairpin on the final lap after getting a run off the first corner.

But Rosberg isn't willing to give up, attempting to reclaim the lead up the inside of the right-hander on the brakes.

He brakes too late and carries too much speed into the corner, making contact with Hamilton.

Hamilton is forced off track and rejoins, going on to win the race, while Rosberg suffers wing damage and limps home fourth.

A 10-second penalty for causing the collision doesn't affect Rosberg's position, but Wolff is unimpressed.

"In the past five races, there have been three incidents which have cost us over 50 points in the constructors' championship," said Wolff.

"We have therefore strengthened our rules of engagement to include much greater deterrents to contact between our cars."

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