After being teammates in karting, Hamilton and Rosberg raced for Mercedes between 2013 and 2016, battling for the F1 World Championship in their last three years together.
The title battles featured a number of tense moments between the two drivers, including track collisions during the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix and the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix.
After beating Hamilton to the world title in 2016, Rosberg announced his immediate retirement from F1, prompting Mercedes to sign Valtteri Bottas as his replacement.
Speaking about the competition between Hamilton and Rosberg on Jake Humphrey’s High Performance podcast, Mercedes team boss Wolff dismissed the idea that friction helps bring out the best in drivers.
“I’m not sure it gets the best of both, because it’s negativity, and you still have to be a team player,” Wolff said.
“If the debriefing room is full of negativity, because the two pilots are hostile to each other, then that will spill out into the energy in the room, and that’s not something I will allow anymore. Never again.”
Wolff explained how he was unable to get to the bottom of the friction between Hamilton and Rosberg, saying there was “historical context” that Mercedes was not aware of and might never understand. fully.
“I couldn’t change it because the drivers were hired before I arrived,” Wolff said.
“Nobody really thought about the dynamic between the two? What’s the past between the two? There was a lot of historical background that neither of us knew and will never know.
“That’s why it’s something we’re looking at, how pilots work with each other, what happens if both fail.
“We accept the boredom and the pain if it goes against one, but we always try to keep the dynamic in the team positive.”
After some tension early in the season in 2014, Hamilton and Rosberg came to the first hits on the track at Spa when Rosberg refused to retire from a first battle on the track. He later told the team it was in response to Hamilton ignoring the team’s orders in the previous race in Hungary.
Wolff nevertheless worked to create an environment in which both drivers recognized that nothing was more important than the result of the team and the importance of representing the Mercedes brand.
“It was very difficult, because I came into the team as a newcomer to Formula 1, and Nico and Lewis had been in the sport for a lot longer,” Wolff said.
“But I was still able to create an environment where they had to respect the team, sometimes with an iron fist, and they understood that they couldn’t let us down, they couldn’t let Mercedes down.
“At the events of 2014, I sensed there was selfish behavior. I said the next time you get close to the other car, your teammate, you think of the Mercedes brand. “Lonely people on the team. You think of Dieter Zetsche, the CEO of Mercedes. It will change the way you act. You are not going to put your teammate in the wall.”
“I’ve always made it clear that if this happens regularly and there is a pattern, I’m not afraid to make someone miss the races.”