Toto Wolff reveals why he stopped speaking to Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton has been holding off on a new contract with Mercedes, despite his current deal almost expiring.

Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ team principal, has revealed that tensions with Lewis Hamilton were very high following the British driver’s loss to his teammate Nico Rosberg in 2016.

Wolff and Hamilton have worked together for over a decade now, with Hamilton switching from McLaren to the Silver Arrows in 2013.

This was the start of a golden era for Mercedes, in which Hamilton claimed six world championship titles.

However, Wolff revealed that this success hasn’t always translated to cosy relations between himself and the British racer.

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He used a divorce analogy to describe a particularly torrid time during their relationship – in 2016.

Nico Rosberg had finished second in 2014 and 2015 and waged “all-out warfare” against his teammate in the following years.

This resulted in Rosberg’s only championship win, in 2016, when he triumphed over Hamilton by a slender margin of five points.

The German driver then promptly retired from F1 racing, having won its greatest accolade.

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Speaking to media sources about his relationship with Hamilton, Wolff said: “Lewis has become a friend.

“Over the years we’ve gone through difficult spells and very good moments.

“We celebrated many championships and we had discussions among ourselves which were not always easy.”

The Austrian went so far as to make a parallel in their relationship to his own marriage with the former driver Susie Wolff.

Wolff remarked: “A key moment was at the end of 2016 when we didn’t speak to each other for a while.

“So I invited him to come to my kitchen in Oxford and sit down and have a chat.

“The analogy I gave to him is that also I have arguments with [my wife] Susie.

“Even if we shout at each other, even if we have this argument, there’s never thought of divorcing.

“That’s why I said to him, ‘I don’t want to divorce you and neither do you. Because I want the best racing driver in our cars and you want to have the best cars.’”

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Wolff thinks this analogy provided a breakthrough regarding their frosty relations at the time.

He said: “So we came to the conclusion that we can have conflict.

“We can create an atmosphere where we’re able to be brutally honest with each other, and sometimes we agree to disagree, but we move on.”