Nico Rosberg reveals Mercedes ‘isolation’ due to Lewis Hamilton split

Nico Rosberg beat Lewis Hamilton to the 2016 championship, but retired immediately after instead of attempting to defend his title.

Mercedes’ dominance over the past decade already looks mightily impressive on the surface, but when it is considered that the Silver Arrows were managing a highly toxic driver pairing for the first half of their domination, their feats look even more commendable.

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton had been childhood friend and the opportunity for the pair to race together in Formula 1 would have been something that they had dreamed of in the younger categories.

The phrase ‘never hire your friends’ was proved true however during the pair’s time together at Mercedes, as the two drivers developed a strong dislike for each other, not being able to look each other in the eye by the time Rosberg retired.

A big reason for their fall out was the fact that they were directly competing for championships as Mercedes dominated Formula 1, and Rosberg has confirmed that it was not just the drivers that were divided in the team.

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“The whole team had to maintain a neutral attitude between Lewis and I,” explained the German.

“There was a strange atmosphere within the team because it was clear that there was rivalry withing our own garage.

“As a result, there was a spirit within the team without balance – and that made it difficult to get closer together. I was in isolation at the most important point of my career.”

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It is suggested that Hamilton does not cope well with being beaten by his teammates, having crash both himself and Rosberg out of the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix and then backing him up into the pack at the season finale in Abu Dhabi rather than helping Rosberg to secure the title.

Since the Hamilton-Rosberg conflict, Mercedes have chosen to operate with a clear number one and two driver, opting to appoint Valtteri Bottas and George Russell to wingman the seven-time world champion rather than compete with him.

The Silver Arrows will be hoping that the changing of the guard within the team goes smoothly, as they will be planning for George Russell to take over from Lewis Hamilton after a couple of seasons together, while the 37-year-old hunts for a record breaking eighth championship before he retires.