Toto Wolff: Hamilton Vs. Rosberg Will Go The Distance

Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton wave to the crowd after the United States Grand Prix. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton wave to the crowd after the United States Grand Prix. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has become convinced the Formula One championship battle between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will extend all the way through to the final round.

At one point in the Formula One season, Lewis Hamilton had fallen 43 points adrift of his Mercedes GP teammate Nico Rosberg in the hunt for the championship.

However, after his most recent string of victories — he’s won every race since Monaco aside from Baku — Hamilton has not only closed the gap, but now finds himself six points ahead of Rosberg in the standings.

Recently asked about the momentum shift from one teammate to another, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff told that he doesn’t believe Rosberg is out of the title picture by any stretch of the imagination.

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“At the beginning of the season [Rosberg] won so many points against Lewis and you can see it swings both directions,” Wolff said. “I think at that stage, it is important to finish the task, be capable of winning the race or being solidly on the podium. It is about avoiding mistakes, as DNFs is what can cost you the championship.

“I think we are going to see that swing through the season, and my feeling is that the championship is going to go to the end.”

It was just weeks ago that the team principal had been singing a different tune. Hamilton and Rosberg made contact during the closing stages of the Austrian Grand Prix – the second time such an incident had occurred.

At the time, Wolff had declared he was “fed up” that it had happened again, and Mercedes were considering the issuance of team orders.

“I don’t want to attribute a particular blame to each of them, because there is the heat of the moment, and it is either the first lap or the last lap,” Wolff was quoted as saying, per Eurosport. “But you know what? I am fed up with trying to analyze it. I just don’t want any contact any more.”

Tensions between the two drivers have been rumored – and downplayed – all season.

Hamilton told the Daily Mail in June that the relationship between himself and Rosberg was “really, really good” and that their mutual respect “is bigger than it’s ever been.”

Others have disagreed with that assessment. Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda offered a different opinion during an interview with Servus TV last month.

“Lewis lied about this, simple as that. He just said something,” Lauda said. “He wanted to be the softener in order to have his peace last weekend. You can rely upon it, he is not a peace maker. The fight gets hotter the longer Nico is in front.”

But Lauda quickly backtracked on those comments, with the team issuing a statement on his behalf that explicitly stated, “Lewis Hamilton did not lie about his relationship with teammate Nico Rosberg.”

And the article quotes Wolff as dismissing the idea that Hamilton’s newfound performance has anything to do with the early wreck between himself and Rosberg at the Spanish Grand Prix, which started the buzz about team acrimony.

“It is just six races – I don’t think that one can see a pattern in there,” Wolff said. “We had very open discussions with the two of them. We have been with each other for four years now and I think what is important is that each of them concentrate on their strengths.

“You will see a couple of races go towards one and then a couple of races go towards the other. I remember we had the same discussion with Nico. When Nico was doing really well at the end of the season, it was can he maintain that momentum in the next year? He did.

“He was outperforming Lewis a lot at the beginning and everyone was saying, is this the new Nico? And then it turned around,” he continued. “But there is no single event I could attribute to a change of performance.”

Which of the two drivers will ultimately bring home the Formula One title? If Wolff’s prediction is right, fans won’t know until the checkered flag drops in Abu Dhabi.