Niki Lauda Admits Mercedes Was Close To Firing Lewis Hamilton
The Mercedes/Hamilton pairing has been a match made in Heaven and yet It came close to ending.
Mercedes has dominated the sport of Formula 1 ever since the new V6 Turbocharged Hybrid power units were introduced. The result has seen the German marque collect trophies hand over fist. However during the tumultious 2016 season Mercedes almost sacked their lead driver, Lewis Hamilton.
We all remember 2016 as the season Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton went from BFF's to bitter enemies. Mercedes was the class of the field and yet their drivers squabbled like school children. This was in part to Mercedes' philosophy of letting their drivers have at it as long as Mercedes finished first and second. This seems simple enough but the result was anything but. The drivers clashed on and off the track and at one point it got so bad that F1 legend and Mercedes executive Niki Lauda nearly fired both drivers.
Once best friends things got so bad between Hamilton and Rosberg that the two stooped talking and put their jobs in jeopardy.
After the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix where the two Mercedes Men collided and took each other out of the race things hit their boiling point. “We put some regulations in, we told them – especially in Barcelona when they pushed each other off the track – we said this was unacceptable for Mercedes and one of you guys has to win. You cannot push each other off. We had some rules put in, that you are not allowed to (collide) and you have to pay a penalty if you do it again or we will think of releasing you from your contract, because we are team players here and we cannot destroy each other.” Lauda admitted in a recent interview.
It is difficult to imagine the top team in the sport, dominating everyone having a driver relationship so bad that the team would even consider sacking one or both drivers. Sure the Mercedes were better than everyone else but you still need talent to win races. Test drivers are talented and often the future of the sport but they aren't on the same level as Hamilton and Rosberg. If there is one thing that illustrates just how bad things got between the two of them it is this.