Toto Wolff has explained why Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg had their principal mechanics swapped on the eve of the 2016 Formula One season. Mercedes swapped the teams working on the respective cars without warning the drivers, who ended up battling each other for the world title at the end of the campaign.
Mercedes boss Wolff felt that there was too much competition between the two mechanical teams. He argues that the situation had almost become Team Hamilton vs Team Rosberg.
The Austrian was keen not to let the mechanical rivalries affect the performances of either driver. Wolff describes both teams as having been “rattled” by the competition.
“We didn’t swap everyone exactly, but the principal mechanics were swapped. We realized that the two sides of the garage were getting quite rattled and too competitive within their own structure, so we wanted to make sure that there was not too much ganging up against the other side of the garage,” Wolff reflected to Square Mile.
“Everybody is on the same team, everybody is being paid by the same company, and therefore it was important to show that you’re not Team Nico Rosberg or Team Lewis Hamilton, you’re Team Mercedes. Without wanting to harm either of the drivers, we just decided that we needed to make a point here.”
Rosberg ended up winning the World Drivers’ Championship at the end of 2016, pipping team-mate Hamilton in the final race of the calendar. The German sensationally retired after winning his only world title, declaring it the pinnacle of his career.
And the now-37-year-old has previously revealed that neither he nor Hamilton was warned that their mechanical teams would be switched. Wolff announced it to the pair on the eve of the 2016 Championship.
“There was such a division between the two sides of the garage that also the mechanics they had become adversaries, and the engineers lived in this climate,” Rosberg reflected on the rivalry between the two mechanical teams. .
“Without warning, and without asking us, Toto transferred my entire team of mechanics to Lewis’s car, and all of his crews went to my car for the rest of the season. All of this happened just before the first race, and it was crazy.
“My mechanics, whom I totally trust and who are also my friends, were transferred to Lewis’s car. And I had enemies working on my car.”