Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says Lewis Hamilton’s qualities stretch far beyond what he shows on the Formula 1 track – and include him not thinking the universe revolves around him.
The reigning F1 world champion delivered perhaps his strongest season ever in 2020 as he roared to his seventh title, matching the all-time titles record of Michael Schumacher.
The extent of his dominance, however, prompted some to question whether Hamilton’s success was down more to his car and the team than pure driver talent.
Speaking to Autosport about Hamilton’s role in what Mercedes has achieved, Wolff said neither team nor driver could be singled out as the most important factor.
However, he made clear that being a top line driver was about far more than just being quick on track.
“It’s not one dimensional,” explained Wolff about the car versus driver debate. “Formula 1 has always been about best man in best machine wins.
“The best man means the quickest driver, and the most intelligent driver. [He is] the one that understands how the dynamics in a team works, its technical ability, and on the other side seeing himself in the right context within the organisation and not like a solar system where everything revolves around the sun.
“Equally, the organisation around the driver needs to be on its absolute A game in order to deliver performance in the various areas. This means on the engineering side, on the commercial side, on the political side, and on the communication side, in order to keep the wheels rolling.
“This is a business without a silver bullet, contrary to what most people think – even within the industry. It’s a business around marginal gains where everything needs to be in the right place for a team to be successful.”
Mercedes and Hamilton are in discussions about framing a new F1 contract for this year, with the previous deal having come to a conclusion at the end of 2020.
While those talks could extend as far as the eve of pre-season testing, Wolff says he has no fears of Hamilton doing what former team-mate Nico Rosberg did in 2016 and quit on the spot.
“It doesn’t worry me at all, because I will always respect Lewis’s decisions,” said Wolff.
“Whether this is staying with us for a long time, or whether that means leaving the sport and pursuing different interests. I think we need to be ready for all kinds of curveballs being thrown at us.
“But at the same time, we talk a lot, and we are very transparent with each other. I think there is more to achieve together.”