Mercedes feud between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton not like famous 1980s strife, Toto Wolff says

However, cracks in the relationship were more evident than ever, with Hamilton suggesting the German had deliberately denied him a chance to take pole position by running off track during qualifying for Monaco.
Mercedes' German driver  Nico Rosberg, right, holds his trophy next to Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton on the podium of the Monaco street circuit after winning the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix in Monte Carlo on May 25, 2014. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER KLEIN
Mercedes' German driver Nico Rosberg, right, holds his trophy next to Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton on the podium of the Monaco street circuit after winning the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix in Monte Carlo on May 25, 2014. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER KLEIN

Lewis Hamilton’s rivalry with teammate Nico Rosberg is very different to Formula One’s famous 1980s feud between Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna, Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff said yesterday.

“It’s an intense relationship, but this intensity is normal,” the Austrian said on the team website after a weekend of team infighting in Monaco.

Rosberg won Sunday’s race to end Hamilton’s run of four wins in a row and seized the overall championship lead back from the Briton.

In pictures: Nico Rosberg wins the Monaco Grand Prix

However, the cracks in the relationship were more evident than ever, with Hamilton suggesting the German had deliberately denied him a chance to take pole position by running off track in the final seconds of qualifying.

Mercedes have started the season in dominant fashion with five successive one-two finishes in six starts, all from pole.

“We have seen a lot of talk about their relationship, but that’s not the key thing for a successful campaign,” Wolff said. “It’s a job, not a holiday, and the drivers need to work with and for the team, first of all.

“There have been a lot of comparisons to the Senna/Prost scenario, which is a kind of compliment to both Lewis and Nico. But the situation here is very different.

“The racing philosophy of Mercedes-Benz is to allow our drivers to compete. We let the boys play with their toys, unless they break them.”

Wolff said both knew the team would not tolerate any incident between them and reminded them they were representing nearly 300,000 Mercedes employees around the world.

Hamilton played up to the Senna references last weekend when he threatened after qualifying to take a leaf out of the late Brazilian’s book.

The remark was interpreted by some as referring to Senna’s title-deciding collisions with McLaren teammate Prost, but Sunday’s race passed without incident and Hamilton later told reporters he was joking.

“I was seriously joking. The priority is the team,” said the 2008 champion, who trails Rosberg by four points.

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Published: May 29, 2014 04:00 AM

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