Mercedes relishing Lewis Hamilton v Nico Rosberg rivalry
"I actually quite enjoyed the moment" says Toto Wolff of 'cap spat'
By Pete Gill and James Galloway
Last Updated: 02/11/15 11:07am
Toto Wolff has welcomed the psychological games being played by his Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg - and admitted he "enjoyed" their now-infamous 'cap spat'.
As Hamilton wrapped up his second successive world championship last week in Austin, the two Silver Arrows drivers clashed on and off the track - with Hamilton prevailing on both occasions.
After refusing to yield into the first corner when their two cars made contact and Rosberg was forced off track, Hamilton then capitalised on his team-mate's mistake to grab his title-securing victory in the closing stages.
Rosberg's frustration then boiled over after the race, first when he tossed his podium cap back at Hamilton and then when he described the Englishman's first-corner manoeuvre as "extremely aggressive".
But Wolff has welcomed the rivalry and seems ready to test his own management skills as he seeks to channel the antipathy between Hamilton and Rosberg into a competitive rivalry which will keep Mercedes clear of Ferrari and Red Bull.
"It's a great situation, it's what the sport needs - emotions," Wolff told Sky Sports F1. "Do you want me or do you want us to put the hand on them and say 'don't show any emotions, we don't want any controversy'? It's the opposite, it's great. Somebody who won a championship and won a race and the other one lost one and was frustrated.
"It's the psychological game which always happens between team-mates who compete on an equal level."
And in an apparent reference to the 'cap spat' incident, Wolff added: "I actually quite enjoyed the moment."
Wolff was unusually publicly critical of one of his drivers after the race in Austin, describing Hamilton's move into the first corner as "too hard". The Mercedes boss has since rowed back on that criticism, telling The Daily Telegraph that after watching innumerable replays of the incident he had "gone from 70-30 to 55-45" in apportioning blame.
"It is a racing incident with a bad outcome for Nico, but probably both of them had their part," he commented.
The Silver Arrows chief has also changed tack on his plans to hold a clear-the-air summit with his squabbling drivers, preferring instead to hold one-on-one talks with both Rosberg and Hamilton in the build-up to this weekend's Mexican GP.
"I have respect for both of them in their position and this is what I told them. I've had the bilateral discussions with them and with the outcome I wanted," Wolff confirmed to Sky Sports F1.
"The discussions need to take place and you need to consider the particular situation. Turn One was definitely a hard situation for both of them. One trying to make the outside in difficult conditions and other one pushing hard against it."