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"The two sides of the garage were getting quite rattled"- Mercedes' Toto Wolff reveals how he handled Lewis Hamilton v Nico Rosberg rivalry during 2016 F1 season

Nico Rosberg (left) and Lewis Hamilton (right) on the podium after the 2016 F1 Abu Dhabi GP. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Nico Rosberg (left) and Lewis Hamilton (right) on the podium after the 2016 F1 Abu Dhabi GP. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton's inter-team rivalry with Nico Rosberg during the 2016 season was so heightened that the garage was rattled, confessed Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.

Lewis Hamilton was signed by Mercedes to fill the seat left vacant by the outgoing seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher alongside Nico Rosberg in 2013. Toto Wolff also joined the same year from Williams.

Despite being newer to the Silver Arrows, Hamilton was able to get the better of his German teammate in his debut season. He followed up his performance with back-to-back world titles in 2014 and 2015 at the dawn of the 1.6L V6 Turbo Hybrid Era.

However, Lewis Hamilton's success came at the cost of his personal and working relationship with Nico Rosberg. The pair have known each other since adolescence. They were even part of the same karting team backed by McLaren and Mercedes before their subsequent promotion to F1. However, the battle for the Drivers' Championship in 2014 and 2015 especially left a sour taste in Rosberg's mouth and it was evident throughout 2016.

this was really a bad day for all of us... throwback to the Spanish GP 2016 πŸŽ₯ NEW VIDEO! πŸ‘‰πŸ» youtu.be/j28f3hhbkI8 https://t.co/yOJz0hom8F

The German won the first four rounds of the 2016 campaign. However, the two crashed out after tangling on the opening lap of that year's Spanish GP. That tension remained in the rounds that followed, right through to the season finale, where Rosberg finally claimed his one and only world title.

Mercedes were also said to have shuffled the mechanics and engineers of both drivers in an attempt to diffuse the tension between the pair. In a recent interview ahead of the 2022 F1 French GP, Toto Wolff clarified this topic by saying:

"We didn't swap everyone exactly, but the principal mechanics were swapped. We realised that the two sides of the garage were getting quite rattled and too competitive within their own structure, so we wanted to make sure that there was not too much ganging up against the other side of the garage."

Wolff added:

"Everybody is on the same team, everybody is being paid by the same company, and therefore it was important to show that you're not Team Nico Rosberg or Team Lewis Hamilton - you're Team Mercedes. Without wanting to harm either of the drivers, we just decided that we needed to make a point here."

Rosberg eventually retired less than a week after clinching the world championship, leaving Mercedes in the lurch before the Silver Arrows signed Valtteri Bottas.


Nico Rosberg has his own unconventional reason for supporting Lewis Hamilton in 2022 F1 season

Despite the frosty nature of their relationship, Nico Rosberg has confessed that he backs Hamilton in 2022, but not for reasons you may think.

The German feels that every achievement Hamilton adds to his long list of accolades adds to his own reputation of having beaten him before.

He's so obsessed bro if I had this dedication in life, all my problems will be solved https://t.co/Ug4B898xFQ

Speaking in an Instagram live video on his official channel ahead of the 2022 F1 French GP, the 37-year-old said:

β€œI support Lewis [Hamilton] actually. The better he does the better it looks on me since I beat him in 2016.”

Rosberg has also previously claimed that he does not see Mercedes winning a race this year. He feels they are way off the pace when compared to the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari this season.

What's your favorite race of the 2022 season so far? Tell us in the comments below..

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Edited by nicolaas.ackermann12
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