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Lewis Hamilton 'a different person' without Nico Rosberg - Mercedes

Nico Rosberg's departure from the Mercedes Formula 1 team has helped Lewis Hamilton become a "different person" and much more of a team player, claims his boss Toto Wolff

Hamilton is paired with Valtteri Bottas this year following Rosberg's abrupt retirement days after claiming the 2016 F1 title.

Wolff has noticed a big change in Hamilton in 2016 and thinks Rosberg's exit removing "animosity" that had started to affect the garage is key to that.

"The dynamic has changed," explained Wolff.

"The dynamic between Lewis and Nico in the end went from friendship to rivalry, from rivalry to controversy, and from controversy to animosity.

"And because they play such an essential role in the team, that spills over to the team.

"Then, where we ended up, is all the time managing this situation.

"And you could see at times there were two sides of the garage as they got sucked into the rivalry.

"This has stopped.

"Lewis has developed in a very impressive way as a personality over the winter. He came back a different person."

Wolff said Hamilton now fully understands how his approach can shape the team's atmosphere.

"He is not a contractor anymore, like we used to call drivers, as every team calls drivers, but he has become a team member in an authentic way," Wolff said.

"He feels part of the team, he understands what the thinking of the team is, that we help each other, and that sometimes there will be difficult moments. But it doesn't mean we need to fall out.

"The situation with Valtteri helps. They respect each other, they get on with each other very well and there is no controversy, a lot of respect.

"I see Lewis being happy for Valtteri that he settled in well, Valtteri acknowledging that Lewis has been with the team for a long time and is a triple world champion. It is a perfect dynamic between the two of them.

"Having said that, I don't think you always need to have happy/happy in the team, as disruption is important.

"Difficult people ask difficult questions, difficult questions make you perform better. Difficult situations make you perform better.

"So we don't want to be in a comfort zone. That is not what is happening.

"There are still rough discussions we are having in the team but it is with no animosity at all. So it is much better."

Wolff acknowledged that losing Rosberg has changed the level of engineering input from drivers, which had been one of the reigning champion's strengths.

"Nico played a very important role in the development of the team," added Wolff.

"If one [driver] had a bad day and couldn't find the direction of the car, the other one would do and then eventually they would help each other indirectly.

"And he had an engineering-like attitude that helped us also in the development. So that is missed.

"But I think we found the best guy out there to step into his shoes."

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