Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg’s first-lap crash in the Spanish Grand Prix has left everyone within the Mercedes Formula 1 team scarred, according to motorsport boss Toto Wolff. Both drivers have been keen to move on, and Hamilton said the pair have gotten over it faster than previous flashpoints, but Wolff recognizes there remains a degree of healing that needs to be done.
Ahead of this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, Wolff told Autosport: “Every major incident, and I would quantify Barcelona as a major incident, leaves scars. Barcelona has left scars, certainly on the drivers, within the team, and the people involved within Mercedes in Formula 1.
“It was an incident that was not supposed to happen, but I look at things philosophically,” he said. “Scars are bad because it means something has hurt, but they can also be good because you try and avoid more in the future.
“That’s what I would like to take out of it. Yes, we had a complete wipeout, but I would like to think it is something that can be avoided in the future.”
Despite suggestions that there is no way back for Hamilton and Rosberg’s relationship – which goes back to their childhood days in karting – Wolff is adamant that is far from the case.
“Somebody who says that doesn’t have a clue about their relationship,” said Wolff. “I would say their relationship oscillates. It varies upon the circumstances. In the winter, the moment the pressure is off, it changes, and you can say it is always pretty relaxed. But then the pressure builds up again over testing, and in particular once the racing starts, it becomes a relationship between competitors.
“If you were to look through a magnifying glass, or from a media perspective seeking headlines, you will see at times it is better, at times worse; they talk to each other and then they don’t, depending on what is happening on track. I wouldn’t want to generalize a very complex, long-lasting relationship by saying it has gone from good to bad, and back to good. It is much more complicated than that.”
Although this is the second high-profile racing incident between the duo, the previous collision at Spa in 2014, Wolff insists he is happy for them to continue racing because they clash so infrequently, with team orders only serving as a last resort.
“We are in Formula 1 for many reasons, and one of them is to promote our brand,” said Wolff. “The brand stands for racing, the right mindset, sportsmanship, among many other things. Team orders would bring the result in the end, but it would be to the detriment of the image of Mercedes-Benz. We haven’t done it, and we certainly have no plans to do so at this stage.
“Having said that, if we were to slide into a situation that becomes complicated, I wouldn’t want to rule it out.”