“We Don’t Play Politics” – Wolff Reveals Conversation with Alain Prost to Handle Drivers

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Since Nico Rosberg retired after winning his first and only title in 2016, Mercedes seems to have adopted an approach that suggests a clear hierarchy between their driver pairing of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

This may have come about as a result of Mercedes boss Toto Wolff speaking to four-time championship winner Alain Prost.

Wolff revealed that he shared a good relation with Prost and tried to gain some insight into the fierce rivalry between him and his teammate Ayrton Senna in order to avoid a similar heated environment at Mercedes.

Wolff said, “We have always been very transparent with each other.

“At the beginning of my stint with Mercedes, I remember a discussion with Alain Prost. I said to him, ‘what went wrong between you and Senna.

“He said that sometimes, we didn’t know whether we had the support of the team or not. There was always politics involved.”

Toto Wolff sits with folded hands while answering questions at the press conference in Italy
Formula One F1 – Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola, Italy – Mercedes’ Team Principal Toto Wolff during a press conference FIA/Handout via REUTERS

Prost and Senna were teammates for only two years at McLaren. Despite the duo both winning one title each alongside each other, the heated on-track moments along with a rather toxic atmosphere in the paddock meant that one of them had to split.

As a result, Prost moved to Ferrari for the 1990 season.

Mercedes boss has learned from the wise words of Alain Prost

Understanding well enough what Prost meant, Wolff decided what was best for his team. And how the team could gain success whilst having a positive atmosphere where both drivers feel wanted.

He said, “We don’t play politics. We play politics outside, but we don’t play any politics inside. I would never permit it.

Valtteri Bottas gives Lewis Hamilton a fist bump at Emilia Romagna Grand Prix
Formula One F1 – Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola, Italy – October Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas celebrates after qualifying in pole position with Lewis Hamilton who qualified in P2 Pool via REUTERS/Luca Bruno

“Transparency, being honest with each other, blaming the problem and not the person, and empowering are the values that are of utmost importance to us.

“That’s why it’s a good place, a fun place, but it’s also a pushing place.”

The Brackley-based outfit have most certainly benefitted from this approach. There is no infighting among the team. Both Hamilton and Bottas know what they have to do.

Moreover, the team has reaped the benefits in the form of seven consecutive Constructors’ Championship titles. It’s safe to say Mercedes have been and will continue to be in good hand with Wolff at the helm.

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