Mercedes boss Toto Wolff doesn’t believe Nico Rosberg’s success in 2016 made Lewis Hamilton a better driver.
Since the turbo-hybrid era began in 2014 Hamilton has taken five of the six World Championships on offer, and at the Turkish Grand Prix he has a golden opportunity to make that six in seven years with a record-equalling seventh World Championship overall.
The way Hamilton has transformed himself into a complete racing driver, often outperforming team-mate Valtteri Bottas on a race day, has been remarkable.
But, Wolff doesn’t think Rosberg, who is the only driver to have stopped Hamilton in this era of Formula 1 by winning the title in 2016, has played any role in improving Hamilton.
“I don’t think that played any role,” Wolff told reporters at Istanbul Park.
“I think that annoyed him back at the time and he just moved on. I don’t think there was a particular thing to learn in that year. Nico was strong, Lewis had some DNFs leading races and at the end, it is what it is.”
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Instead Wolff credited Hamilton’s constant search of perfection for his continued development, saying most people are the opposite and are too stubborn to accept their shortcomings.
“What I see or what I realised over the last years is his permanent self-analysis, how to get better, he’s become really good in identifying points of weaknesses and then tackling them,” Wolff explained.
“And he has progressed over the years as a racing driver in the car and as a personality outside of the car.
“That is something that you see very rarely with people that are critical enough whilst not beating themselves up in order to progress.
“Many others in Formula 1, or outside of Formula 1, you’re pretty stubborn, you’re not really good at identifying your own shortcomings and therefore you stagnate in your development. And it’s a thinking pattern that with him simply doesn’t exist is that is the constant seek for perfection.”
In order to keep the 2020 title fight alive heading into the Bahrain Grand Prix Hamilton’s team-mate Bottas must cut the gap to Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship to 77 points after the Turkish GP.
The current deficit is 85, meaning there must be an eight-point swing in Bottas’ favour for him to retain a very slim chance of becoming World Champion.