Hamilton and Bottas show teams can have “two alpha males” – Wolff

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In the round-up: Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says their pairing of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas shows it is possible for two top drivers to coexist within the same team.

What they say

Bottas has already re-signed for Mercedes and Hamilton is expected to stay at the team next year. Wolff was asked how the team’s current line-up compares to its previous pairing of Hamilton and Nico Rosberg:

I think if you have a dynamic between two drivers where the talking happens on the track [then] I think you can have two alpha males.

Valtteri showed some really good performances this year, but then dropped away towards the end. […]

The combination works well. When Lewis has a bad day, Valtteri pulls it off and the other way around. Valtteri had a really bad day [in Turkey] and Lewis won the race. And I think this combination really works well for the team.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Christopher would like to see more than one extra race added to the 2021 F1 calendar:

I know it would be taking it up to 24 grands prix, but how about Sepang on the 18th and Algarve on the 2nd of May? They would both be double headers with China/Malaysia and Portugal/Spain but they are quite reasonable.

Mugello is very unlikely because of access for crowds and the following two in the above survey would get the places. Also, it is quite likely that at least one of the other races may not occur due to Covid or the Azerbaijani contract with Armenia or one still subject to contract.
Christopher Windle

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  • Born today in 1954: Multiple championship-winning technical director and Formula 1 motorsport chief Ross Brawn

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87 comments on “Hamilton and Bottas show teams can have “two alpha males” – Wolff”

  1. Mr Hamilton, who has been a vocal supporter of the Black Lives Matter campaign, said F1 ‘cannot ignore the human rights issues’ in countries on the circuit.

    Well this will either come to a head or Hamilton will be called to heel. Last time I remember the presser clearly when heading to Bahrain and Tost basically shut down the argument entirely with his comments
    The two positions couldn’t be further contrasted and I really doubt F1 is all of a sudden going to start caring. I fully expect a similar official line to be taken by F1 despite any protest.

    1. F1 will likely be telling Saudi Arabia that F1 has to make a statement in order to placate critics, but don’t take it too personally as it is all for show. Just sign the cheque.

      And I guess Hamilton will say that is would be super-awesome if there was more rights in Saudi Arabia, that we need to educate each other to drive change together, that he believes in us and we can be our best selves.

      1. Hamilton will still call them an amazing crowd when he wins lol

        1. I live in the GCC and may head over to watch the race so if he does, I’d be quite happy.

    2. I’m starting to get all “politicked” out to be honest. It almost as if its permeates every facet of our lives! But perhaps its always been like this, and I haven’t paid much attention.

      This thing with Saudi is going to be an interesting one. Certain segments of the media have been calling on drivers to boycott the race, if so, soon there wont be many races! haha. I mean, the calendar is littered with races in nations that can hardly be considered paragons of freedom and fairness.

      I guess everyone has good intentions. Lets hope for the best. People should be allowed to express their opinions, but at the same time, people should be allowed to reserve the opinions, free of vilification.

    3. Hamilton to get a sir? What about the car, the real star of the show?
      If sirs mean anything at all in this day and age [even Tom Jones got one], then the engine designers of stuttgart and the aero-chassis engineers of Brackley should be made barons and viscounts in the house of lords. There is no fairness otherwise.

      1. Engine is designed and made in Brixworth ENGLAND

  2. Arise Sir Lewis Hamilton wow that is cool man yes.

    1. Excuse me.

      Don’t you mean ‘Still I Arise’?

      (A tip of the hat to Will Buxton for that one.)

    2. No less than he deserves!

  3. ROFL
    Two alpha males indeed.
    There’s just one on that team.
    We all know who he is.
    The other one is a bridesmaid, a perennial also-ran.

    1. That’s what I thought when I read the title. After reading the quote I think the 2 alpha make line was aimed at the Nico-Lewis pairing. I think wolff was implying he was glad not to have alpha males now.

    2. I think at this point they should just drop the charade and just admit Bottas is just the number two driver. No shame in being the number two to one of the greatest F1 drivers ever. All this talking about “Bottas’ title challenge” and “alpha male” does just about the opposite, which is to cristalyze in everyone’s mind that he is the wingman.

    3. Are you not counting Toto ?

    4. Actually Bottas is more like a traditional alpha male. Success in F1 doesn’t count towards that and Hamilton is more like a social butterfly/metrosexual/popstar.

      1. May be, but in this context Bottas isn’t an alpha male, he just doesn’t have the killer instinct as an F1 driver that Hamilton has.

        1. @sprintcarfan He does though, but he doesn’t have the skills to apply it that often.

          He pushed Hamilton off track in pretty much every chance he got this season. Which was only twice perhaps, but still

    5. And someone once told there it is impossible to have two n.1 in the same team.

  4. “The seven-time world champion, 35, is to be given the gong after his controversial tax affairs were deemed ‘all in order’.”

    Does anyone honestly care about Hamilton’s tax affairs other than your average Sun/Daily Mail reader? What he does/did is (a) not illegal (b) not unusual and (c) not immoral. There is no moral duty to pay tax, it is a legal obligation and it provides that you have to pay the minimum amount you actually owe, not one penny more. If you can save on your tax bill in a legitimate way, it is allowed. Rich people all over the world, including millions we have never and will never hear of, use legal means to legally reduce their tax bills every single day. Why shouldn’t Lewis? In my professional capacity I have helped hundreds of clients in the UK, Middle East and Africa purchase assets and do business around the world (including UK real estate) in a tax efficient way, it is so normal that I struggle to see why there is so much fuss made about it. He deserves this honour, the tabloids shouldn’t try sully the moment by trying to make a controversy where there is none.

    1. Maybe because he’s black. Same issues here in France… never talk about well-white Bernard Arnaud but the few « coloured » sportsmen that missed to pay a penny on their tax bill.
      Jealousy and racism, nothing to be proud of.
      We all pay tax everyday with the VAT, actually a fifth of everything we buy.

      1. @jeff1s it is certainly true that he does seem to get a disproportionately high amount of attention devoted to that topic compared to all the other British Formula 1 drivers did the same thing.

        You don’t find similar comments about the tax affairs of Button in the run up to his award, even though he runs similar schemes to Hamilton: likewise, there are no comments about Mansell living in the Channel Islands for tax purposes or that Damon Hill does likewise (complete with a shell company in Ireland through which processes payments to him for tax purposes). Stewart, meanwhile, openly talks about his decision to move to Switzerland for tax purposes, and yet it is rarely brought up when he is discussed either.

        Mind you, it is The Sun we are talking about, and that newspaper has been criticised for such behaviour before. There was a particular case when, at around the same time, two footballers – one white and one black – both decided to buy a house for their parents as a way of thanking them for the support they gave them during their junior careers. For the white player, The Sun praised them and commented about how nice they were for doing that – the black player, however, was instead criticised for being reckless with their money and for showing off for doing the same thing.

        1. I thought this had to do with Hamilton’s potentially becoming Sir Hamilton. That might also account for some of the different scrutiny as only Moss, Brabham, and Stewart have been knighted, and presumably some time ago. I just mean that perhaps Button, for example, did not have to account for his tax status publicly because he was not made a knight.

          However, I want to note that I fully believe Hamilton has to put up with a lot more than others because of his skin color, and that almost certainly includes recent discussions surrounding possible knighthood. Not disagreeing with your points above, anon, just commenting.

    2. As long as it’s exactly $750 pa then all sides should be happy then.

    3. @geemac I think plenty of people, not just Sun and Daily Mail readers, believe there is a moral obligation to contribute to society through tax. Your point about ‘rich people’ being able to game the system is precisely the point – they have access to methods that the rest of us do not. So it is those on low and middle incomes who shoulder the greatest burden, in relative terms, to compensate for those who don’t pay their fair share.

      In terms of Hamilton specifically, it was widely reported a couple of years ago that HMRC was passing details of known tax avoiders onto the Cabinet Office, specifically to ensure that they were not nominated for honours. We do not know if Hamilton was on this list but, given his widely-reported use of a Manx tax scheme to avoid paying taxes on his private jet, it is likely that he was. The comment that his taxes are ‘all in order’ is likely a suggestion that he has now been removed from the Cabinet Office list and is therefore eligible for an honour.

      1. @red-andy Regardless of what people think, it is not a moral obligation, it is a legal obligation. This is a fact. In addition, I’m pretty sure that Lewis Hamilton is not tax resident in the UK which also gives him no legal or moral obligation to pay tax in the UK. Nationality does not equal an obligation to pay tax.

        To take myself as an example, I am British, but I grew up and began my career in South Africa (where I paid income tax), then moved to the Middle East (where I was not legally required to pay income tax), then moved to the UK (where I paid income tax and availed legal routes to cut my liability like salary sacrifice childcare vouchers) and am now back in the Middle East (where I again pay no income tax). Based on the arguments of The Sun, I am a tax avoider and should be publicly flogged despite following the rules all my life (as Lewis Hamilton has). Just because Hamilton gets paid squillions a year doesn’t make his actions any worse than my own.

        1. @geemac

          Nationality does not equal an obligation to pay tax

          I suppose you are talking about the UK because for example U.S. residents/ citizens and green card holders residing in foreign countries that signed FATCA agreement with the USA are required to report their non-US financial assets on an annual basis to the IRS. Technically speaking they are automatically reported by the financial institutions/ governments of those countries as soon as the person in question is FATCA eligible.

          1. Indeed, @tifoso1989. And quite a few people in the EU (probably in other places as well?) are currently losing access to their bank accounts because they (often without knowing about this and because it is hard to rescind it) failed to file their info to the US IRS, since they had/have a US nationality

          2. @bascb
            The FATCA jurisdiction extends to a total of 113 countries. I remember it caused a fuss around 2014 when it came to force in some countries and I used to work in a software provider for the securities services. Some clients/prospects were asking urgently for it to be implemented in their systems.

            I also remember working on this same topic in Brazil where there is a strict monitoring to the investors in the financial market and there is very detailed tax matrix covering every possible case. (For example : a foreign investor (US citizen) residing in a Tax heaven buying stocks must be taxed X % on cash dividend).


      2. Not sure that’s true about a hit list of tax dodgers. A complete waste of resources as most wont ever get nominated. And you would have to top the list with half of the government and most of the the Royal Family if you did.
        There is a review of tax affairs for those nominated for the higher awards at an early stage; which is why we got more leaked detail of Hams tax situation (top 5000 of UK Taxpayers, etc) during in the summer; and a few more details of his charity work (£1 million to Children in Need, etc) as that plays a part in the recommendation.

    4. There is no moral duty to pay tax

      I’d say even more so than a legal obligations it’s a moral obligation.
      If you live in a community and decide (through your vote and/or failure to leave) that you’ll provide certain services through such community at less than cost, then that’s what you pay taxes for.
      If that’s not a ‘moral duty’ then I have some serious concerns about your moral compass, @geemac.

      1. If you live in a community

        This is the point. Lewis Hamilton does not live in the UK, therefore his tax affairs should not matter to the UK tabloids.

        My moral compass is well tuned…but I will not pay more tax than I am lawfully required to. Salary sacrifice childcare Vouchers, company cars etc are all legitimate and common ways ordinary people in the UK can lower their income tax and national insurance burdens. Are you saying that people who make use of these are immoral?

        1. Are you saying that people who make use of these are immoral?

          You can read what I ‘said’, and that is certainly not what I wrote!
          I’m saying that if you believe that “there is no moral duty to pay tax” when you live in a community then IMO you’ve got your moral compass out of sync.

          PS Income Tax is just a small portion of taxes collected by governments.

    5. @geemac

      For me, engaging in tax avoidance means that I interpret activism by those celebrities as mere virtue signaling. If someone doesn’t want to help pay for government services, but make demands from the government, then they use their privileged social position to look good, but don’t use their privileged bank account to actually make a sacrifice, while demanding that far less privileged people pay for it.

      It’s in essence no different from a rich person coming across a homeless person and then demanding that a nearby working stiff gives his jacket to the homeless person. That’s worse behavior than just not intervening at all.

      The epitome for me is Bono, who makes extensive demands from governments, including his own, but has extensive tax evasion operations, if not also tax evasion.

      PS. And don’t start with that nonsense about Hamilton actually being Monégasque. If you wake him up at night and ask him what nationality he is, he will say British.

      1. PS. And don’t start with that nonsense about Hamilton actually being Monégasque. If you wake him up at night and ask him what nationality he is, he will say British.

        @aapje No, what I was saying is that The Sun are implying that just because he is British he should pay tax in Britain. He shouldn’t, because he is not tax resident in the UK.

        1. @geemac

          And that’s because he moved there for tax evasion, after he got rich. That’s what people do who want welfare and such when they aren’t well off, but refuse to chip in once they make it.

          A good example of how fake his ‘migration’ is, are the many calls for a knighthood.

          1. Tax evasion should be avoidance in that first sentence, btw.

      2. @aapje fair dinkum everyone here getting their knickers in a knot about “moral tax obligation”, but I would bet that any one of you, when it comes to crunching the numbers, would take any opportunity to reduce the amount of tax you pay via any legal means you have access to.

        The key word you’re all missing is “legal”.

        Don’t hate the player, hate the game. The legal system allows this to happen legally. If you think sports stars should contribute their “fair share”, write to your politicians about changing the laws.

        1. There is a large Grey area between legal and illegal. If you have the funds to use experts to discover or even create the Grey area, your moral compass needs adjustment.

          1. I live in Australia, there’s very little grey area.

            Sure there’s things which shouldn’t be legal (but they are), but it’s not a “grey area”.

            The system should change.

        2. @justrhysism

          Just because you would do that, doesn’t mean that everyone would.

          1. @aapje if you’re willing to pay a cent more than you’re legally required to, then I can guarantee you’re in the minority.

      3. Lewis is paid by a UK company which employs him so he actually pays taxes on his salary which is his UK earned income. Any income from his investments and sources other than his company is taxed according to whatever laws they have in Monaco since that is where he lives.

      4. Jose Lopes da Silva
        24th November 2020, 16:20

        Your perspective is a little socialist, but a relevant one.
        Liberals would prefer that Hamilton, as a free citizen, applied his money in charities and elsewhere where he would want, instead of giving it to the State.

    6. Does anyone honestly care about knighthood other than your average British reader?…

    7. @geemac The people who give out knighthoods care, because they’re technically not allowed to issue them to people who are in bad standing with HMRC (the department responsible for British taxes).

      1. @alianora-la-canta Yes, but Hamilton isn’t because everything he has done has been above board.

  5. As an American I’ve been led to believe that getting Knighted is a big deal. It’s like the Olympic Gold Metal, but it’s a true reflection of a longer accomplishment.
    Now to hear that Mr.Lewis Hamilton, Sir Lewis Hamilton’s is what he will be called certainly speaks to the validity of his accomplishment.
    Who was the last Grand Prix Star who became knighted? Was it Jackie Stewart 3 times world champion??? He was deserving too.
    So here is to Sir Lewis, thanks for the show we are seeing and the way you conduct your business. This then, is such a fine way of saying thanks for the joy that comes from seeing this great champion. Turkey was such a classic moment for sticking to your intuition. Watching Sir Lewis wait watch and strike when the track came back to the car and then went away so slowly it turned intermediates into slicks.
    But that takes something internal, something that fans can’t feel but only think they understand. My guess is Lewis is very aware of all that surrounds him. He has to be pleased and deserves that pat on the back. This knighthood stuff is a proud moment for many LH fans across the world.

    1. The last F1 person who was knighted was Sir Patrick Head if I recall correctly. He was knighted around 15 years later than Sir Frank Williams.

  6. Congrats to Lewis. But I believed he shouldn’t taking a knee in front of white imperialist. There should be new procession to reflect that he’s an equal.

    1. Showing respect for our monarch is something undertaken equally by all who meet her, regardless of skin colour. Better not to make something out of nothing.

      1. Then he should stop talking equality when embracing caste system.

          1. Not really. It is a related situation and no whataboutism.

    2. @ruliemaluana I think it is a personal matter for the recipient if they are nominated for an honour, whether they choose to accept it.

      My own view is that the UK honours system has been so debased by corruption and patronage in recent years that the honours are essentially meaningless.

      But, I can see why someone like Hamilton, who clearly feels his position keenly, and takes obvious pride in being such an inspiration for young people – especially young black people – would accept one. And he has undoubtedly earned it, far more than the slew of backbench Conservative MPs, Tory donors and retired civil servants who will doubtless also be taking the knee before HMQ come New Year.

      I am sure Hamilton will feel that the knighthood is not just for him, but for all the youngsters who look at what he has achieved and dare to dream the impossible.

      1. @red-andy I’m afraid young black people will see that they need to win seven world title or being born from the right womb to get a Sir.

        1. WOW! Is that really your take on this?

        2. I was halfway through responding as a young-ish black person, but really didn’t know what to say!! and then I looked at his previous comments and realised there was no point.

        3. @ruliemaulana right womb? Hamilton wasn’t born into success and wealth.

          1. @justrhysism That’s the point.

          2. @justrhysism It was presented as either/or, so Lewis winning 7 titles led him to get the same honour as being born to the right family apparently would. (I think it is less simple than that).

  7. COTD’s suggestion would work if China could form a double-header with another place. The thing is, based on the info I’ve received, that China has to happen as a standalone for the time being because of customs issues. The Chinese GP has taken place with other events before, a handful of times with Bahrain despite their distance, most recently in 2018, but I guess things changed with customs after the most recent occasion. I wouldn’t mind if even Fuji Speedway were to fill the gap between China and Spain should the Vietnamese GP not be able to go ahead. Yes, it’d also be ideal on April 18, but more ideal for a standalone on April 25 there than Portimao, as well as Sepang in comparison.

  8. there are clearly two alpha males in the mercedes team, lewis and toto

  9. Bottas the alpha wingman.

  10. Bottas = alpha male? Give me a break!

  11. Well Bottas is an Alpha male but its all relative to who you are stood next to. However its v kind of his manager to say that he is a safe pair of hands when Lewis isn’t there, particularly whilst he is having contract talks with the other Alpha. A very subtle push ?

    Its been reported, nowhere reliable yet, that Toto is moving upstairs and if he does there must be a slight question mark over Lewis re-signing. It would be extraordinary if he did as he’d probably be out of a drive, about 1 % likely id say, so expect it as a headline on Planet f1 !

    1. @tonymansell – This may be a bit pedantic, but, if your status changes depending on who you are teamed with, then you’re no longer an alpha. Look at lion prides or wolf packs. There are instances of 2 or 3 alphas sharing control of the pride/pack. But generally, there is 1. The others are not alphas. Maybe they could go off and start a new group and be the alpha of that group. Or they could attack and kick out the alpha of their group and become the alpha.

      I have seen nothing from Bottas indicating he wants to leave to go to a worse team just to be #1. Nor have I seen anything that indicates he is trying to overthrow Hamilton, nor that he could even if he wanted to do so.

      I think the discussion of alphas and betas and so on, with regard to people, is crude and unfitting. But, if the comparison is being made, Hamilton is the alpha driver at Merc. Bottas is second fiddle. There is no logical way to argue otherwise.

      1. @hobo Wow ! you are right pedantry is your friend! Yours that is. Unfortunately you still missed that I said its relative. Real easy, if Bottas is in a Haas he’s the alpha, if he’s at Merc, he isn’t. That’s it. Ill leave you to try and fit that into your analogy

    2. @tonymansell Completely agree. He does act like the alpha male every chance he gets. Granted it didn’t happen that often, but we’ve seen Bottas push Hamilton off track at least twice and he once overtook Hamilton going off track himself.

      Still, even an alpha male will need to yield when he’s totally on the back foot. There is no point in just driving into another car.

      1. and he once overtook Hamilton

        Yep, that must have been a alpha male in your world.
        But the reality…
        “valtteri, this is james”…

  12. Look Bottas will never get equal treatment to Lewis. Why should he?? He is just another employee playing a role in helping Mercedes kick everyone all over the field. He no more deserves Hamilton type attention than the janitor who sweeps the floors at Mercedes does. But give Bottas credit as he has accomplished and succeeded in the role he plays. A worthy teammate. But always a distant number two.

    1. He does get equal treatment. Or rather, he would if he was ahead.

      Just look at Austria to see how they let Hamilton suffer and lose two positions just because Bottas was ahead and they didn’t allow Hamilton to pass him.

      1. Bottas has had his race destroyed to help Hamilton to win more than times than Barrichello ever supposedly did.

        1. @darrenmoore
          Any particular examples? Certainly its not written into his contract he must yield and certainly who ever is ahead gets first call and certainly if 1 driver can win the WDC and the other cannot he will move over if they have competition like when Ferrari had the best car but any team and all teams do that.

          You throw a comment like that and dont back it up then its kind of worthless

  13. mark from toronto
    23rd November 2020, 16:19

    Bottas/Hamilton is much easier to manage then Rosberg/Hamilton. Enough said..

    1. That being said, Bottas is way better than say Albon or Stroll, or whoever is the next best #2.

    2. Also easier than Vettel/Webber because of Turkey 2010

  14. Oh pull the other one Toto, its Black Friday not April Fools.

  15. Wolff is obviously talking hypotheticals

  16. Sure, all three are quite Alpha, very good at their craft.

    Well Lewis is the reigning record holder, Toto is somewhat skilled with words and Bottas is not getting in the way by harming team relations. Just not fast enough to provide us with a title challange. Or Lewis with discomfort.

  17. Toto can be funny sometimes. Bottas is one of the best alphas a team can get.

  18. Lewis is more Alfa type 33, Bottas Alfa Arna

  19. that nose is going to rip the mask off of your face toto.

  20. 2 å ALPHA males ToTo??? If so, then why dont you replace Valtriiii by Max? Is your first ALPHA, Lewis, not in agreement with you about that? Mercedes Marketing? Fanbase? Money? BadName? Politics? Fear? ?? or maybe ??? Mr. Wolf your statement is an inside politics-keep-bottas-happy-easy-cheap-nonsense remark. Bottas is not a ALPHA male.

  21. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/25/saudi-womens-rights-activists-trial-moved-to-terrorism-court

    How can any decent person want to condone this (and worse – much worse) by rocking up to a race in Saudi. No country is perfect, obviously, but there is a line beyond which we won’t go. Putting on gigs and sporting events in Saudi – massively subsidized by the government – provides cover for the regime and afford it legitimacy and acceptability it should not have.

    We’re keen to take a knee to mark one kind of injustice (quite rightly), but then completely ignore another kind when it suits us? That’s plain shabby.

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