Wolff dismisses talk of Hamilton-Rosberg rift as “hot air”

2015 United States Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has dismissed speculation of a rift between his drivers as “hot air”.

The pair’s post-race hat-throwing exchange was interpreted by some as evidence of a new low in their relationship, which has been strained at times as the pair have fought for the world championship.

Lewis Hamilton clinched the 2015 title on Sunday after Nico Rosberg went off the track late in the race, handing his team mate the lead. Afterwards Rosberg complained Hamilton had forced him wide at the start.

“A lot was said after the race about the relationship between our drivers and most of it was hot air,” said Wolff.

“One of our boys won a world title on Sunday, and one lost it. If a few emotions boil over in that scenario, it’s completely understandable and human.”

However he indicated the team would discuss the first-corner incident between the pair. “Like always, we will do the analysis of what happened on track as a team – but we will do it behind closed doors.”

Wolff also praised the efforts of teams to keep fans entertained throughout Saturday’s rain delay, which had been a focus of criticism from Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Maurizio Arrivabene.

“The weekend in Austin was a very positive one for Formula One,” said Wolff. “On Saturday, we saw the paddock unite to put on a show for those fantastic fans who braved the weather to the very end.”

2015 United States Grand Prix

    Browse all 2015 United States Grand Prix articles

    Author information

    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

    Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

    62 comments on “Wolff dismisses talk of Hamilton-Rosberg rift as “hot air””

    1. Their relationship went down the pan in Monaco last year. Lewis had been friends with him for all those years, then Nico cheated on him, Schumi style, or worse with being premeditated. No going back. Spa cemented it. End of respect.

      Anything else is pure PR, and Toto I’m sure didn’t help saying over the winter for his German audience that Spa was only 51% Rosberg’s fault. And whenever it looks like time might heal things Nico does something new, like the Sepang qualy impeding, the weird slowdown on corner exit in Sochi, and now the Texas Supersulk.

      Why on earth Merc have him instead of Hulk or one of the others I seriously do not know.

      1. Their relationship went down the pan in Monaco last year. Lewis had been friends with him for all those years, then Nico cheated on him, Schumi style, or worse with being premeditated.

        People still believe that was a deliberate move?

        But why am I surprised? If I had a pound for every occasion I’ve seen otherwise reasonable people throw logic and reason out the window, I’d be able to buy a brand-new Toyota GT86.

        1. I don’t know how many times I’ve posted this link @raceprouk: http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/f1/reports/2014-monaco-gp-report/

          Hughes observes that the video was damning, that the team told him the tyre load data showed Rosberg could have made the corner (in the Comments), and that virtually all the drivers thought it was deliberate. On top of which there’s no good explanation for why he chose to run first which is how Lewis knew instantly what had gone down. I didn’t want to believe it, but that’s where the evidence leads.

          1. Let’s see, who am I going to trust more, a random person on the Internet and some article on some website, or the judgement of the stewards who have access to all the video footage, telemetry, and radio messages?

            Call me crazy, but I’m going to go with the stewards on this one. Why? Because they actually have the evidence.

            1. Stewards with a massive agenda @raceprouk: Keke was right there in Monaco, and Warwick didn’t mention tyre load data only the basic traces. ‘Some article’ is a very experienced and respected F1 journo and ‘some website’ is the oldest motorsport magazine out there.

            2. Keke was right there in Monaco


              Warwick didn’t mention tyre load data only the basic traces


              very experienced and respected F1 journo

              Newsflash: Journalists are capable of having agendas too.

              the oldest motorsport magazine out there

              Same for publications.

            3. Warwick was a contemporary of Keke @raceprouk. Keke who’d had plenty to say about Rascassegate. It would have been a horror story to have his own son found guilty of the same thing. You only have to read how Warwick introduced his explanation to see how prejudged the decision was. “Gave me the answers I needed.” for example. He had McLaren people there as experts, so how did he not check the tyre load data?

              Hughes’ article is pretty heavily anti-Hamilton, if you actually go and look. No sign of an agenda at all. He thought the cheating was fine. Just deliberate.

            4. Having fun reading way too much into people’s words and spinning up crazy theories, all because you don’t agree with a decision?

            5. I am just going with the evidence @raceprouk. I watched the front-on video too. Watched the Sky midweek report where James Calado was shown the video and instantly said it was deliberate.

            6. My apologies; I never realised watching a single video was all the evidence required. Maybe the stewards could learn from your example; after all, why should they waste their time consulting all the video footage, telemetry, and radio communications when one video is clearly enough to judge someone?

            7. It’s not all the evidence @raceprouk. There are several items of evidence.

            8. And yet you still ignore the fact that the only people with all the evidence are the stewards. But hey, maybe it’s my fault for not being a foam-mouthed looney.

            9. If Warwick had looked at the tyre load data @raceprouk, doncha think he’d have mentioned that?

            10. Why should he have to?

            11. For the credibility he so clearly craved, @raceprouk. He went on and on about the steering and braking traces and how they had ALL the data. If he’d had tyre load data showing it was just late braking and Nico couldn’t have made the corner, that would have been slam dunk innocent and the very first think Derek would have told us. After all it would have proved Nico was still “the most honest driver in Grand Prix racing” instead of it being “not black and white”.

            12. I can see this argument is going nowhere. I can also see that you have an agenda that you will pursue to the ends of the Earth. So I think I’ll leave you to froth at the mouth like a madman till the ends of the Earth.

            13. The stewards didn’t have all the evidence, the team did. What was best for them (Mercedes)? Have their driver publicly condemned for a Schumacher-esque maneouvre and lose his position, or push the stewards towards seeing it as accidental and sorting out the issue internally? Obviously they went for the latter. Except that they went too easy on Rosberg, which unsettled Hamilton, and then reversed their attitude after the Spa DNF by disciplining Rosberg heavily. From which he has never really mentally recovered.

              Incidentally lots of people in the media thought Rosberg had been really clever with his Monaco escapade. It was only seen a bit more negatively after Hamilton’s wins after Spa. Even so some journalists were suggesting he should try the same kind of trick this year to rattle Hamilton.

            14. There is a difference between finding evidence that will proof foul play beyond all doubt and simply seeing that it was “wrong”. An F1 driver immediately can tell it was deliberate and they did speak out (unless there was a camera on them and they suddenly had a case of PC)

              It was quite obvious it was deliberate from the video’s and all the analysis that was done like that in that Motorsport article, but how do you prove that he actually did it on purpose? Unless Rosberg had simply steered into the wall like Schumacher did, it would be hard to have 100% clear evidence.

              So, the stewards couldn’t find evidence to penalize Rosberg with 100% certainty, they acquit him and try to stop the outrage by pretending there wasn’t even the slightest indication that something was amiss. That doesn;t mean he actually didn;t do it on purpose.

              Rosberg missed the corner by a little and saw his opportunity. Then he backed up back on track to make sure Q3 was cancelled. A normal slight slip up would have ended in him braking a bit harder and turning right, or if he actually had turned left he would have waited for the session to be over. Not 100% proof perhaps, but it’s more clear that he did do it on purpose than that he didn’t.

            15. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
              29th October 2015, 11:48

              Here’s Warwick explaining that Nico’s word was probably the most important factor of the decision –

              [WARWICK:] “It was not black and white. It took a long time. We wanted to be sure and thorough. The driver is a massive component in what we end up deciding.

              I know there are conspiracy theories but you will not find a more honest driver in grand prix racing than Nico.”


              The same article states that Martin Brundle thought only a minority of the paddock believed Rosberg had made a mistake, which concurs with DC’s initial reaction in the commentary box that it looked odd – and of course concurs with the Mark Hughes article posted by @lockup.

              You can pour all the scorn you like, the fact is that most people who saw that incident thought it was deliberate. Warwick decided to take Rosberg at his word.

            16. @raceprouk After reading your constant rebuttal’s, I’m convinced you would deny it even if Rosberg came on here and said “Yep, that one was deliberate to stop my faster team mate from getting pole.”

            17. @psynrg: Don’t insult me.

              I’m going to spell it out:
              – Monaco is bumpy
              – The cars have no ABS
              – Rosberg pushed too hard and locked up
              – Unable to make the corner, he went down the escape road
              – Going down the escape road meant no damage to the car
              – The yellow flags went out, as they always do at that point
              – Rosberg then reversed back up the escape road

              But hey, let’s not let such a simple explanation get in the way of yet more crazy theories and fact ignoring.

      2. @lockup I think Lewis was a couple of times too aggressive, and often provocative through the media but in the end Lewis didn’t do anything wrong. What started their rift is on Mercedes. Rosberg should be angry at Mercedes, not Lewis, the Bahrain 2014 incident or lack thereof, is a bargaining chip he lost at SPA. Nico shouldn’t have signed that extension early last season, he should have only signed after the end of the championship fight. If Nico wants to beat Lewis he needs the Ferrari’s or any other team to consistently beat Mercedes as in 2013, as it stands Daimler and the guys that hired Lewis will always favour Lewis for obvious marketing reasons. You can see that Lauda and Wolff are only worried in keeping Lewis happy. I’m sure Lewis himself is not like Senna, I don’t believe he pays the mechanics to fiddle with Rosberg’s car. I just think Merc don’t support Nico. Nico should leave, perhaps try to get a seat at RBR or McLaren, otherwise Mercedes won’t let him win the title unless, Hamilton somehow really loses his mojo, which as it stands is unlikely, what will probably happen is Lewis winning a 3rd title in a row, a forth career and perhaps a 5th if the 2017 rules are not to be.

        1. I agree they prefer Lewis @peartree, though think how marketable Rosberg would become if he beat Lewis Hamilton!

          But Bahrain 2014, Japan 2015 and Austin 2015 are why they prefer Lewis. I don’t even believe they will have this ‘word’ with the drivers, I reckon they loved it. Even Toto is a racer, after all. And they saw like the rest of us that when Nico had a genuine move, later on, Lewis let it happen.

          1. The cynic in me says that the Mercedes top brass want a driver partnership where the toys can be packed away after they’ve been thrown about the place. That’s harder to do with two drivers that genuinely have an equal chance of winning the championship.

            In this instance, I can’t help but feel that Lewis is more their cup of tea than Nico is. That’s yet another hurdle Nico has to overcome before he can achieve his goal.

            I think Nico needs to get out of there. He’s a good driver, but, as things stand, it’s hard to see him ever truly challenging Lewis.

            But then again, where would he go?

            1. Yep @andybantam, any wdc-level car is going to have Lewis, Seb or Nando in the other one. Nico is doomed, as far as a wdc is concerned. He needs to accept what he is and have a dignified career like Patrese or Berger or DC.

              Otherwise this kind of thing can happen :)

          2. @lockup I don’t think rosberg beating Hamilton would be good to F1 or Mercedes. F1 is trying to get into the US market, Lewis success and his lifestyle is what F1 needs to start to create the attention.

            1. Fair point @peartree. Well it’s hard to remember now how anonymous Mercedes were before Lewis arrived. On top of that I think Nico alienated the team with Monaco and Spa.

              I don’t think they would hinder Rosberg though, even if they needed to which they clearly don’t. But yes he ought to leave, if he can, though there’s no sign any other team is interested really. There’s always a market for a good No 2, but he’s ruling himself out of that.

      3. @lockup I continue to disagree with your overly dramatic rendition of the story of Nico which has you starting on this page as it all starting in Monaco, which I think is likely false as both players were testing the waters before that, and ending with him alienating the team, no other team being interested in him, and him ruling himself out of even being a good no 2.

        I know there is no talking you down from this ledge and having tried before, I will not try again, so well have you constructed a story without really knowing it from the inside, all tied up with a nice bow, throwing Nico out with the trash like he might as well change careers.

        It can’t possibly just be a unique story of long time friends in a complex relationship that gets massively intensified due to their domination together at Merc, both human beings, neither perfect, they and the team understanding that and working with it, Wolff having just acknowledged that after LH pushed NR off at COTA.

        You like to portray this like Nico is now undesirable on the market, so bad have his actions been, whereas the reality is that any team would take him in a heartbeat as they understand the complex situation he is in and what a force he is up against, how close he has been to said force, and what great experience Nico is gaining in this only his second season in a WDC capable car, with much more to come.

        1. Hey @robbie :)

          Cmon I am not throwing Nico out with the trash, that IS being dramatic dude, but seriously. He’s a terrific No2 ability-wise, best on the grid even, so fast, but not willing to be a No2, so which team wants him? He’s not bringing money is he?

          He’s in a very simple situation it seems to me: alongside a more capable teammate. The more desperately he fights it, the worse he looks. Everyone but him knows what’ll happen if he’s on the outside of Lewis without an overlap, but he stays there like he’s never heard of a cutback and then when the inevitable happens he complains and sulks in that unattractive way.

          I’ve been so disappointed that he wrecked the original wonderful story. Not with using Overtake in Bahrain, but in Monaco. Then he’s kept making it worse. It’s like every time I’m starting to get over the past and trying to like him again he does something new.

          1. @lockup Seems to me a classic case where because LH won a WDC several years ago, everything he does is therefore ‘WDC-level’ whereas when Nico does something it is not even racing or standing his ground…the very stuff of a WDC level driver…it is desperation, or trying too hard, or good no 2.

            Why would he cut back? He was fully beside and had he not been pushed off but instead fairly left room as he could have expected, he could have gotten ahead. He was probably thinking since he was always ahead and then even with LH, had he tried a cut back he’d have other players to contend with coming from behind and inside them, such would have been the drastic nature of a cut back from being fully beside. I doubt situations reversed LH would have done anything differently but my goodness NR would have been totally castigated as being ‘up to his usual tricks’ by the likes of you. You would have claimed the only way NR can beat LH is to push him off the track.

            I don’t believe you are really trying to like NR because you seem too poised to keep finding anything new to grasp at to shoot him down. That’s fine, it’s your take on it, but I think it is overkill. In this case Nico can’t even get pushed off the track right let alone dare be ticked about it. And if it was ‘just racing’ as indicated by a lack of penalty, then why can’t Nico ‘just race’ rather than being second guessed from armchairs that he should have let off and let LH go in hopes of a cut back. NR owned enough real estate at that corner to deserve to not have been pushed off and have his and his teammates race potentially ruined by contact. Why isn’t it LH that obviously should have let off a bit so he wouldn’t overcook it and run NR off the track? Him standing his ground is fair game…Nico doing it is taboo.

            1. Well we do see them the other way round @robbie and it does generally turn out different. Lewis does the cutback like he did later in the same race or he smells the coffee and tucks in behind as he did in Sochi. There’s no drama because of Lewis’ driving.

              I just checked again and they were dead level going into the corner. Rosberg was never in a million years going round the outside. Never ever. It was completely unrealistic. It’s only because it was Hamilton that anything was said about it, and now I see Lauda has said there won’t be any discussion in the team after all. That was just Toto in PR mode. Lauda IMO would have been a bit shocked if Lewis had let Nico through there.

              So Nico’s complaining won’t have cut any ice with Lewis or the team, though I think his relationship with Lewis was broken already. Nico wasn’t pushed anyway, he took himself off with his poor positioning, just as in Sochi, and it’s part of how he’s not quite top tier even though he is fast.

            2. I mean just as in Suzuka

            3. No what’s done is done and I’m sure after the heat of the moment Nico is over it, but I think it is silly to suggest Nico was never going around. For LH to have immediately said it wasn’t on purpose means he could have left more room but overcooked it so yeah in that regard Nico was never going around, but while it was happening Nico couldn’t have known he was not going to be left room until he was being run wide. LH was just lucky the contact didn’t take them both out. I defy any racer to actually back off enough to try a cutback when he is already fully beside someone. To expect Nico to have done that is to expect him to lie down and submit and he’s obviously better than that.

            4. Yes okay the cutback would have been tricky @robbie, because Lewis was defending that too, by doing a bit of extra braking, but anything would have been better for Nico than just driving alongside Lewis heading for the runoff on the far side of the track. Because Lewis was never, in a million years, going to turn left before the kerb. Whyever would he?

              I hope Rosberg is over it, though history suggests he might not be.

    2. I can understand Rosberg being upset and I can sympathise – man just lost a second world title to his team-mate. That’s going to hurt no matter which way you look at it. Then again, Massa didn’t go flinging caps at people when he lost and he had a much tighter fight. Certain dignity in defeat.

      Rosberg may have been shoved wide by his team-mate, sure – but he still made a silly error later that cost him the win so he’d have lost either way. Also it’s probably fair to say he’d lost this title from day one as Rosberg hasn’t looked a match for Hamilton since early last year. ‘Clear the air’ talks won’t achieve anything.

      He’s not a terrible driver by any means but I have no faith he’s a future driver’s champion. He should stop pointing fingers at Hamilton or looking at what everyone else is doing and actually do what he keeps threatening to and ‘come back stronger next year’, otherwise he’ll only ever be remembered as Hamilton’s less-successful team-mate.

      1. Then again, Massa didn’t go flinging caps at people when he lost and he had a much tighter fight.

        IIRC, the cooldown room wasn’t part of the live coverage back in 2008; that’s a far more recent thing. So we don’t know what went on in there. Having said that, I think Massa was more interested in interacting with the crowd than throwing hats around with Hamilton anyway :)

        1. To be fair the race Hamilton beat massa to the title he wouldn’t have been in the cool down romantic anyway as he finished 5th

          1. By romantic I mean room. Phone auto corrected

          2. That is an exceedingly good point ;)

        2. Then again, Singapore 2011, Massa interrupted Hamiltons post race interview

      2. About Rosberg being shoved wide. Take a look at the start. Hamilton drives straight ahead, and starts pulling away, Rosberg responds by pulling leftwards sharply, causing Hamilton to ‘twitch’ further left, maybe instinctively. That means, though, neither of them is on a good line for the apex. Rosberg brakes earlier, but can’t do a switch-back because he moved too far left – had he stayed out, he’d have been able to pass Hamilton, very probably, when the latter was taking the inside of the corner (wetter with less adherence). I think Hamilton is right, it was down to Rosberg’s slow start and the line he took – he (Hamilton) wasn’t going to slow down and let him pass on the curve when he was ahead!

      3. @rocketpanda Massa didn’t fling hats but he will talk to the media all week that it’s always other person who crashed into him :P

    3. At least Rosberg clapped for Hamilton on the podium. Or he might have seen a fly and wanted to kill it :P.
      Hamilton was almost unreachable this season, but what Rosberg did made it seem that he was very close to winning the championship all year. Even Vettel seemed very happy for his rival for winning the championship.

      1. At least Rosberg clapped for Hamilton on the podium.

        He also hugged and congratulated Hamilton in the cooldown room pretty much as soon as Hamilton walked in. But of course no-one reports on that, because it doesn’t generate headlines; better to take the hat-throwing and blow it out of all proportion.

        1. I might be wrong, but I think I saw Hamilton saying “I´m sorry man” to Rosberg right after the amthens were finished, while putting his hand on Rosberg´s shoulder.
          At least that was I´ve read from Hamilton lips.
          Then Rosberg just briefly looked at Hamilton and turned the other side.

    4. I think rosberg was just really disappointed that a possible win for him was almost “robbed” from him when the last safety car came out. Maybe I remember it wrong but at one point it looked like the win was to be decided between rosberg and vettel.

    5. “The pair’s post-race hat-throwing exchange was interpreted by some as evidence of a new low in their relationship”
      Forgive me for thinking throwing a hat after losing the world championship isn’t a big deal. They’re competitive racing drivers trying to beat each other, what do people expect?

      1. Forgive me for thinking throwing a hat after losing the world championship isn’t a big deal.

        It’s on a par with squirting shaving foam in the hand of someone who’s asleep, then tickling under their nose with a feather. Unless you’re desperate for readers, in which case it’s on a par with a declaration of war.

        1. Besides, the hat said 2nd for a very obvious reason, 2nd in the race. No-one’s ever passed a hat or something over like that before?

    6. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
      28th October 2015, 22:31

      This Mercedes feud is so incredibly dull.

      1. Let’s be honest, the feud only exists in the media; they don’t have much else to report on apart from the continued toy throwing at Red Bull

    7. Talking of pushing the rules to the limit.

      How did Rosberg get so close to Ricciardo during the VSC?

      1. Simple. Hamilton was backing everyone up by going far slower than the prescribed VSC speed to try and cool his tyres, what a champion hey. Like when he does this sort of thing on proper safety car restarts or before the start of a race. Stuff safety and the whole concept hehind the VSC (drivers don’t need to lose time relative to each other and won’t feel disadvantaged by a VSC call). Of course completely different to ROS apparantelyusing rules to his benefit however unsporting by apparantely ruining Lewis’ possible pole lap in qualifying at Monaco by ROS (judged not to have happened by stewards, sorry end of, yet to some people this is the excuse for any aggressive/unsporting behavior from Hamilton towards Rosberg), as ROS is evil incarnate and HAM is saintly. Oh and if Rosberg is ever faster than Hamilton something was wrong with Lewis’ car or setup or whatever, but if Lewis beats Rosberg its always pure driving talent, apparantely. :-)

        1. The biggest man who got the disadvantage is Hamilton himself. Normally the leader is the one who lost most by SC because suddenly his gap is gone. Remember at that stage Red Bull is clearly better than Mercedes, its obvious that Hamilton risk himself by eliminating the gap so he can extend his inters stint. VSC done its purpose. Also where does Hamilton does unsporting things? Overly aggressive sure, but its still far away from unsporting territory. If you think Hamilton willing to throw the race just for the spite to Rosberg, you’re completely delusional.

        2. Your thoughts are not consistent with the lap charts shown in https://www.racefans.net/2015/10/26/vettel-hails-great-recovery-after-climb-to-third/. Hamilton may have gone slowish but the RBR drivers stayed approximately at consistent gaps behind him, Rosberg did not and went from 3 sec (3.036 if you want it exact) behind Ricciardo to within touching distance of his exhaust pipe.

          1. I also meant to include, on lap 4 Perez was 4.1 sec behind Rosberg, by lap 7 he was 6.8 sec behind.
            So Rosberg gained 3 sec on Ricciardo and Perez all under the VSC.

            He was definitely pushing the limits, and that the stewards need to be keeping an eye out for this type of behavior.

    8. In any 2 driver team, there’ll always be a winner and a loser.

      Rosberg can be as upset as he likes, but until he can dominate his team mate like Hamilton dominates him, he’s never going to come anything but second.

      Whether they’re friends or whether they hate each other doesn’t matter at all in racing. It’s all about winning and unfortunately, so far, Hamilton has proved he’s the better driver and I expect it to continue.
      You don’t win 3 WDC’s by being average or by being “nice” at the first corner which is something Rosberg has to come to grips with and accept.

    9. This talk of a rift or whatever seems absurd when the two drivers are separated in the table by another driving a car almost 1 second slower. The rift should be between the team and a driver who is being beaten by a slower car. Ferrari is going to come back even stronger next year and MB should consider whether they need to count on Raikkonen having another poor season to secure the WCC.

      1. Indeed, sad days when the rivalry of the moment is this. Rosberg is not anywhere near the level of Alonso and Kimi 2007, those guys were monsters, and Hamilton is no longer the rookie of the year (Go Max!), there’s no chance for Rosberg. And I thought “a guy who learns from Schumacher and works with Ross Brawn must become a champion!”. How wrong was I.

    10. The 2nd place cap issue ? I didn’t watch this year COTA race, but I found this issue a lot in youtube.

    11. the press is so eager to generate hits, that they make up all kinds of stuff, always according to “sources close to…”. I can make lots of articles like that. They are not the kind of friends that hang out together, but they respect each other and get along fine, cause they know they are both very good. Maybe a bit less after some races, but in time it recovers. People show emotions, both positive and negative, they are not robots. No need to analyze and interpret everything like amateur psychologists.

      1. Hear hear!

    Comments are closed.