Nico Rosberg said he was left feeling isolated as the tension with Lewis Hamilton created internal conflict within Mercedes.
Hamilton and Rosberg had been Mercedes team-mates since the start of the 2013 campaign, but it was come 2014 when Mercedes rose to become Formula 1’s dominant force that tensions would go on to flare.
As the duo, who had previously considered themselves friends, duelled over the following three Drivers’ titles on offer, relations completely broke down, the final chapter of this rivalry written at the Abu Dhabi GP in 2016.
After Rosberg clinched the Drivers’ title, following Hamilton’s 2014 and 2015 successes, Rosberg would announce his retirement from Formula 1.
Mercedes drafted in Valtteri Bottas to replace him, the Finn generating a far more harmonious relationship with Hamilton and improving the team atmosphere significantly.
But when it was Rosberg and Hamilton battling it out at Mercedes, Rosberg said this led to a “strange” environment in the team, one that left him feeling isolated due to the difficulty of creating bonds within the fractured Silver Arrows camp.
“The whole team had to maintain a neutral attitude between Lewis and I,” Rosberg told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“There was a strange atmosphere within the team because it was clear that there was rivalry within our own garage.
“As a result, there was a spirit within the team without balance – and that made it difficult to get closer together. I was in isolation at the most important point of my career.”
Will the George Russell, Lewis Hamilton pairing follow suit?
Based on what we saw in the 2022 campaign, the answer would be no. There is a serious ‘but’, however.
With Mercedes confirming the exit of Valtteri Bottas, their junior driver Russell was promoted to the Mercedes line-up for 2022 after three seasons with Williams.
It left many wondering which route this new partnership would go down. After all, Russell has shown a fiery side, think Imola 2021 after his high-speed crash with Bottas, though that did too show that Russell has no problem with issuing an apology either.
The first season of the Hamilton-Russell pairing was harmonious though, Hamilton predicting this relationship will not become a problem for Mercedes in the future, even if the team return to fighting for the title, a scene they were absent from for the first time since 2013.
So, just like it took title chances to create that Hamilton-Rosberg conflict, we wait to see how Hamilton and Russell would face that same litmus test. It could come as soon as 2023.