Toto Wolff defends controversial decision, reveals it was done to prevent ‘ganging up’ against Lewis Hamilton

Sir Lewis Hamilton said in 2016 that he would reveal all about the swap in his book.

Huge question marks were raised in 2016 as to why Mercedes decided to swap over their mechanics as Nico Rosberg beat Sir Lewis Hamilton to the title.

Hamilton and Rosberg had gone through a bitter rivalry in 2014 and 2015 as they fought for the title, winning 32 of the 38 races between them across those two seasons.

The Briton came out on top in both of those seasons, but the battles were certainly not without controversy as they came together on track multiple times.

What was once a blossoming friendship had turned into a bitter feud, and that was starting to translate to some of the mechanics as well, which is why Wolff felt the needed to make some tweaks.

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg as Mercedes team-mates.v1

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“We didn’t swap everyone exactly, but the principal mechanics were swapped,” he told Squaremile.

“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.”

The Austrian reiterated that everybody in the team needed to be on the same page in that the ultimate goal was to help the team win, not just one of the drivers.

“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,” added Wolff.

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“Without wanting to harm either of the drivers, we just decided that we needed to make a point here.”

One of the reasons the changes became so problematic was the various failures on Hamilton’s car, most notably at the Malaysian Grand Prix that year when his engine failed while comfortably leading.

It meant that he ultimately lost 28 points to Rosberg that day as the German recovered to third following contact with Sebastian Vettel on lap one, while Daniel Ricciardo led home Max Verstappen for Red Bull’s first one-two since 2013.

READ: Nico Rosberg provides update on his relationship with Lewis Hamilton, insists he doesn’t regret Mercedes tensions

Rosberg divulged previously that Wolff had not given any notice before switching the mechanics with the season right around the corner, and he suddenly found himself working with “enemies.”

“There was such a division between the two sides of the garage that also the mechanics they had become adversaries, and the engineers lived in this climate,” he said, quoted by the Express.

“Without warning, and without asking us, Toto transferred my entire team of mechanics to Lewis’ car, and all of his crews went to my car for the rest of the season. 

“All of this happened just before the first race, and it was crazy. 

“My mechanics, whom I totally trust and who are also my friends, were transferred to Lewis’ car, and I had enemies working on my car.”

Rosberg retired from the pinnacle of motorsport after his dramatic title success in Abu Dhabi that year, and Hamilton has since gone on to add another four titles to his tally.