Toto Wolff said he used to “bite back” against Lewis Hamilton in the early Mercedes years when frustrations boiled over.
Hamilton moved to Mercedes in 2013, and the team principal explained that he “had to make the point that I wouldn’t allow the driver to bad-mouth the team”, when things were not going according to plan.
But Wolff also said that he and Hamilton moved past that stage quickly, although he would not rule out putting a driver on the sidelines in the future if things become too tense within the team.
Wolff insists that the team comes above any single individual, and Hamilton absolutely plays his part in that dynamic as a Mercedes driver.
"Whoever is in front is absolutely going to try to do the same as in the Senna-Prost years."
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“This is Mercedes,” Wolff told the Daily Mail. “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 200mph, 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.
“Still, I wouldn’t hesitate in the future if a driver talked bad about the team or wasn’t appropriate, 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, 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.”
George Russell will make the move to Mercedes next season to become Hamilton’s new team-mate, and it’s widely expected that the young pretender will try to make his mark with the Silver Arrows when he replaces Valtteri Bottas for 2022.
Hamilton said recently that he will make sure he will “work harder” to maintain his number one status within the team, but Wolff has stressed multiple times that he does not want a repeat of the frosty relationship Hamilton had with Nico Rosberg before.
Such was the animosity between the pair, the team principal admitted that he was one step away from sidelining a driver when their arguments came to a head.
“I was close to putting a driver on the bench when it was Lewis and Rosberg. Twice. In 2014 and 2016,” said Wolff.
“I said I would judge over 48 hours whether one needed to sit out. I still don’t know who it would have been. But that was long ago. It is unimaginable given the relationship I have with Lewis today that it could happen now.”