Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has revealed that the early days of his relationship with Lewis Hamilton involved some stern guidance from the Austrian.
Hamilton won his first Formula 1 title with McLaren in 2008, but since joining Mercedes in 2013, the Briton has become a seven-time world champion – sharing the record with Michael Shumacher.
Hamilton won back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015, before winning four in a row from 2017 to 2020.
And opening up on how the driver’s relationship with the Mercedes team has changed over the years, Wolff told the Daily Mail: “This is Mercedes, we have no place for the genius jerk.
“Even a superstar driver has to respect team values. But with Lewis, we’ve been eight years together now. He’s not an arrogant, spoiled little kid.
“He’s a mature racer who has won seven titles, six with us, so we can take those moments; it’s part of our role to be a trash bin for the driver sometimes.
“In the car, you can get very frustrated and emotional. You are racing at 200miles-per-hour, in the rain, you have no idea about the overall picture of the race and decisions are being made that you cannot understand.
“In the early years I would bite back at Lewis. He was very young and I had to make the point that I wouldn’t allow the driver to bad-mouth the team, but we’ve been moved on from there a long time.”
Hamilton, now 36, is involved in one of the fiercest title battles of his F1 career, trailing Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by 12 points with five races left this season.
Verstappen, 24, is bidding for his first drivers’ championship, and the Dutchman seemingly has the fiery motivation required to win the title.
“I wouldn’t hesitate in the future if a driver talked bad about the team or wasn’t appropriate,” Wolff added. “I would first deal with it internally, and if that didn’t yield results, I would take the driver out of the car. On the bench, yes.
“I don’t think that would ever be Lewis. He’s a team member, not a contractor, [not] a driver that comes and goes.
“We’ve been together since 2013. We know each other so well, there’s so much trust and respect.”
The next event on the F1 calendar is the Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday 7 November.
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