Mercedes Boss Wants More Intra-Team Drama For 2018
Mercedes enjoyed another highly successful Formula 1 season in 2017. They won the Constructors Championship and their top man Lewis Hamilton brought home his third Driver's Championship while driving for Mercedes (his fourth overall). To any team that would be enough but Mercedes boss Toto Wolff sees things differently. He views Valtteri Bottas' victory to close out the season as an opportunity, but not the one you might be thinking of.
Bottas finished the season third in the Driver's standings. One could safely assume that there is an opportunity for him to improve on that result. Afterall the ultimate goal for Mercedes is to win both championships and have their men finish one, two in the Driver's standings. Bottas will be entering his second season with the team and it stands to reason he will improve over his first. Better familiarity with the car, the team and Mercedes AMG as a whole would lead to better results. Again, Wolff sees things slightly differently. Wolff believes that the way to improve Mercedes in light of Ferrari and Red Bull becoming more competitive is to make the relationship between Bottas and Hamilton more "disruptive".
Yes, Mr. Wolff wants there to be a fiercer rivalry between his two drivers. A rivalry that would push both men to their absolute peak performance. "I don't think we need to avoid a stressful situation. We need to acknowledge that, if two teammates can fight for race wins and a championship, that this will be a rivalry. " Wolff said. "And we need to be conscious and acknowledge that that is the case. "
Wolff continued, "We are not trying to build a new family here, we want to be the most effective racing team, and an effective racing team needs stress, needs tension, needs disruption as much as it needs calmness and a positive attitude and mindset. But like everywhere in life you want to have the mix of both, probably the recipe for success."
Does all of this sound familiar? It feels like we have already witnessed this narrative before. This sounds like Wolff wants a repeat of the intra-team stress that accompanied Nico Rosberg's time at Mercedes which came to its climax during the 2016 season. Remember all that drama, tension and stress that went along with the 2016 season? Sure the result was Mercedes domination but at what price? If Rosberg is to be believed, that price was the stress of it all. Stress that took such a toll on the 2016 champ that he immediately retired after reaching the F1 mountain top.
It is no doubt that some level of stress is a good thing in any business. You want your employees to feel pressure to perform at their absolute best. Whether that is out of fear or simply the desire to be the best, a little stress is good. That is a fine line, too much and employees can crack. Too much can lead to an unhappy environment that employees can no longer tolerate and suddenly you find your best people walking out the door.
I really don't understand this tactic. Mercedes has utilized this during their recent reign of success and some could argue "if it ain't broke don't fix it". However it is easy to tell your boys to go at it, go compete for wins, there are no team orders outside of don't crash each other. The thing is Mercedes deployed this tactic while also having the most dominant car on the grid. If a small mistake occurred they could simply ride the back of this domination and still achieve the results they desired. Mercedes is no longer the dominant team. Ferrari showed this season they can compete with the silver arrows. Red Bull is improving and poses more of a threat to Mercedes than they have in years. Mercedes needs to be on the same page, working together to stave off the challenge from their rivals. I think Wolff is playing with fire here and it could blow up in his face.
Or it could lead to a Mercedes freight train and still more domination. Only time will tell. Let us know what you think in the comments below? Is this much ado about nothing or is Wolff's strategy a seriously risky one?
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