Lauda and Wolff commit to Mercedes until 2020

F1i 20/02/2017
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The lucrative new deals by both men are hardly a surprise while their duration corresponds to Mercedes’ own commitment to Formula 1.

Also, both men retain their ownership of the Mercedes AMG F1 team, with Wolff holding a 30% stake while Lauda enjoys a 10% participation.

The renewed loyalty puts a final point to a frantic period of negotiation at the Brackley-based outfit with collective talks on several fronts as Mercedes settled deals with Bottas, tech boss James Allison who replaces Paddy Lowe, and senior management with Lauda and Wolff.

“In 2013, we restructured the management of the team with the clear goal of improving our performance,” said Daimler chairman and CEO, Dieter Zetsche.

“Since then, however, the results have exceeded our expectations. A key factor in this success has been the combination of Toto’s entrepreneurial skills and Niki’s experience.

“Their renewed commitment gives our programme important continuity for the next four years.”

Niki Lauda commented: “The last few years have been some of the most enjoyable I have had in Formula One. Toto and I formed a perfect partnership at Mercedes and we have a great team on every level that has delivered results. I must thank Dieter and the other members of the board of Daimler AG for renewing their confidence in us.”

Toto Wolff concluded: “Winning is never down to single individuals – it is about the right group of people coming together, aligning themselves with a common objective and then combining their talents to achieve that target. Each day I come to the factory, I am humbled to have the privilege of representing this inspiring group of people.”

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Hamilton against sharing telemetry

F1i 19/02/2017
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Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton has said he would like to see an end to the practice of team mates being able to scour each other’s telemetry after practice and qualifying sessions.

“I go out, do my laps, do all my homework – the other guy can see everything,” said Hamilton in an online interview for UBS. “I don’t think they should do that. I have asked my team, I don’t want to see my team mate’s.”

“I don’t feel it’s fair that he brings his ‘A’ game and I should be able to study his ‘A’ game on a computer.”

Hamilton’s fractious relationship with former team mate Nico Rosberg is well documented, and this year Hamilton will be paired up with Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes, so does this signal a new ‘cold war’ in the garage?

“I’m not against team engineers sharing data, but I think the drivers shouldn’t be able to study each other’s data,” Hamilton insisted.

“There are times where, because you only have a limited amount of time and we have all these things we can change, sometimes you just decide to go the wrong way and start on the wrong foot.

“Unless you go back and go the direction the team’s other car is going, you’re just lost, there’s just nothing you can do. Those are some times things you have to do, and I think for a team going forwards that’s not a bad thing.”

But in Hamilton’s view, drivers sharing overall car telemetry was different to drivers seeking to data-mine their team mate’s every run.

“I think it should be ‘you hired me because I am the best, you hired me because I’ve studied, because I’ve won every class that I’ve been in, I’ve not missed one in terms of winning’, and you’re hiring whoever the next person is because they’ve hopefully won some things along the way as well and you’re hiring them for their ultimate skill all round.

“You’ve got to find the limit yourself, that’s the whole challenge of being a racing driver. When I get in this new car it’s seeing what the limit of it is and if I can’t do it on my own then I’m not good enough and I don’t deserve to be there – and there are some drivers that don’t.”

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Mercedes: We fear everybody ahead of 2017 F1 season

F1i 18/02/2017
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Toto Wolff.

The German manufacturer has been the dominant force since 2014 and the introduction of the 1.6-litre V6 turbocharged power units, securing 51 race wins and three championship doubles over the past three years.

This season will see the advent of wider and more aggressive-looking cars fitted with bigger Pirelli tyres and generating 20 percent more downforce.

Despite the aero overhaul, Mercedes has been tipped to retain its edge given that engine rules have not been tweaked save for the scrapping of the tokens system.

“I was nervous four years ago [Wolff joined Mercedes in 2013] when we started our journey, on whether we would be able to win races and championships soon,” the Mercedes boss told BBC 5 live Sport.

“We have done that over the last years so the nervousness has gone down a bit. Equally there is a risk and we would not want to fall into the trap of being complacent. These regulation changes come at the right time and we’re super motivated in getting it right.

“It’s not a given though. We don’t know. There could be the odd silver bullet like Ross [Brawn] had back in 2009 with the double diffuser [on the Brawn GP car that helped Jenson Button secure that year’s title].

“We will see probably in the second Barcelona test if somebody has new innovations on the car that others have not spotted.

“Through a regulation change, you need to fear everybody because nobody would have expected Brawn GP to be a championship contender in 2009 so we look at everybody as there are opportunities for everyone.”

Mercedes will unveil its 2017-spec W08 on February 23 at Silverstone.

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