Austin, Texas -Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has admitted he has to act fast this week to prevent Nico Rosberg’s displeasure sparking a new row with Lewis Hamilton that casts a shadow over the team’s triumphant season.
In the aftermath of Briton Hamilton’s victory and triple title success in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix, Wolff broke away from the celebrations to confirm he was aware of the dangers following the German’s reaction to their first corner duel on the opening lap.
Wolff said: “We will take a very calm, but firm approach to this. It could be that something is imminent. We have to deal with it.”
Austrian Wolff said he and the team are keen to retain their unity and spirit after a successful defence of the drivers’ and constructors’ titles.
Rosberg complained after finishing second behind Hamilton in Sunday’s race that the Englishman had “gone one step too far” when he drove him off the circuit at the first corner.
Hamilton made a better start than Rosberg, on pole, and drew level as they went into the first corner, where Hamilton had the inside line.
However, he drifted wide on cold intermediate tyres on a treacherous damp circuit and forced Rosberg off.
‘One step too far’
“Turn One was not decisive for the race, as I was able to come back,” said Rosberg. “But, if I’m leading I have a right to a piece of track…He ran into me and that is one step too far.”
Rosberg recovered and eventually regained the lead in a spectacular race before an unforced error in the closing laps gifted victory and the title to Hamilton.
Wolff agreed the incident had the potential to repeat the acrimony that erupted following their clash at the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix.
“Yes, it does, but if we don’t take any action,” he said. “We will. But we should let things cool down first. It’s never easy. It wasn’t easy the first time around, but we do have some experience now.
“We just need to have a calm approach, a firm approach of how we would like them to compete.”
Wolff agreed Hamilton had been very aggressive.
Wolff said: “It’s very hard. Lewis came on the radio and said it wasn’t on purpose. I think it’s something we are going to talk about in a couple of days, but this is the moment to celebrate a world champion who deserves to be world champion.
“Once the emotions have cooled down we will discuss it.”
He said there was danger of trouble in the team this week when they arrive in Mexico for the Mexican GP unless the problem was solved.
“For sure, that is imminent,” Wolff added. “I was just asked how I am going to approach these races. I said ‘I don’t know’ because I have never been in a comfortable situation of being able to sit and watch a race and enjoy it as a fan.
“But it is also a crucial moment now to make sure this race and incident don’t release consequences within the team and split the two sides of the garage.”