Toto Wolff: 'Nico Rosberg-Lewis Hamilton relationship negative'

Nico Rosberg leaves the stage behind Lewis Hamilton during a press conference for the kickoff of the new Formula 1 season in Fellbach, south-western Germany, on March 11, 2016
© AFP
The intense relationship between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg had become "negative" for Mercedes, according to Toto Wolff.

The intense relationship between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg had become "negative" for Mercedes, according to Toto Wolff.

The team boss insists that he was never really angry at Rosberg - now replaced by Valtteri Bottas - for suddenly calling it quits after winning the 2016 title, despite having a firm contract for 2017 and beyond.

"Not at all," Wolff told Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper.

"I immediately tried to see the opportunity of the situation. On the one hand, Nico was a top performer who pushed himself and his teammate to top performances.

"On the other hand, the rivalry between him and Lewis had become so intense that it was a negative for the team.

"We always had to deal with the things that came up as a result of these animosities rather than taking care of performance issues, which was not good."

Although names like the fiery Fernando Alonso were mentioned to fill Rosberg's seat, Mercedes ultimate plumped for the quiet Finn Bottas.

"I'm expecting some quieter times," admitted Wolff.

"But if Valtteri is really good and the two of them are close to each other, it can be just as difficult, I am under no illusions. Even Bottas knows that he has little time to prove himself.

"We cannot afford to put someone in the car who is not fast enough and doesn't push Lewis. But his personality played a role. Valtteri is extremely quiet, not political, not manipulative. Pairing him with Lewis is the right combination."

The 2017 calendar kicks off with the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Toto Wolff the Mercedes GP Executive Director looks on from the pitwall during day four of Formula One Winter Testing at the Circuito de Jerez on January 31, 2014
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TeamPoints
1Mercedes161
2Ferrari153
3Red Bull72
4Force India53
5Toro Rosso21
6Williams-Mercedes18
7Renault14
8Haas9
9Sauber4
10McLaren0
DriversTeamPoints
1Sebastian VettelFerrari104
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes98
3Valtteri BottasMercedes63
4Kimi RaikkonenFerrari49
5Daniel RicciardoRed Bull37
6Max VerstappenRed Bull35
7Sergio PerezForce India34
8Esteban OconForce India19
9Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes18
10Carlos SainzToro Rosso17
11Nico HulkenbergRenault14
12Romain GrosjeanHaas5
13Kevin MagnussenHaas4
14Pascal WehrleinSauber4
15Daniil KvyatToro Rosso4
16Lance StrollWilliams-Mercedes0
17Marcus EricssonSauber0
18Jolyon PalmerRenault0
19Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren0
20Fernando AlonsoMcLaren0
21Antonio GiovinazziSauber0