Toto Wolff: “Nico Rosberg not ‘too nice’ and won’t give up on title”

nico rosberg

Nico Rosberg’s fading title challenge against Lewis Hamilton is not being hampered by the German being too “nice”, according to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.

The German driver, who started the race 41 points adrift of his Mercedes team-mate, had admitted that only victory would be sufficient in Sunday’s Japanese GP.

But despite starting in pole position he lost the lead to Hamilton at the start.

The Mercedes pair were side-by-side going into the first corner, but it was Hamilton who emerged from the second corner ahead with Rosberg forced to take to the kerb and grass as his team-mate resolutely held the racing line.

Dropping to fourth, Rosberg fought back to second place to secure Mercedes’ eighth one-two of the year, but finished 19 seconds adrift of first place. As a result, Hamilton has re-increased his title lead to 48 points with just five rounds to go.

Wolff, however, believes Rosberg will keep fighting hard and that perceptions that he is ‘too nice’ to beat Hamilton are wide of the mark.

“The way I see him and the way I feel where he is, he has not given up,” he said. “And there’s no way a driver is ever going to give it up unless it is mathematically not possible anymore – at least for Nico’s case and Nico’s character and that’s what I see.

“We try to maintain a good relationship within the team and not have any animosity and this is sometimes when a driver appears to be genuinely nice that it’s been seen as a weakness. It’s not at all.”

But put to him that Rosberg had often struggled to assert himself in wheel-to-wheel combat with Hamilton over the last two seasons, Wolff replied: “Yes, we have seen races – Bahrain and Spa [2014] – where we have seen that, but it also shows how close they fight with each other.

“I wouldn’t want to say that there is a tendency that if they fight it’s Lewis who comes out with the better end, that’s definitely not the case for me.”

Suzuka was Hamilton’s eighth win from 14 races this year and Wolff said the world champion had picked up from where he left off before Mercedes’ aberration in Singapore.

“He was very dominant and back to the momentum he had before,” the Austrian added. “It wasn’t as controlled from the car’s perspective as it appeared, but definitely his driving was very impressive.”

In fact, Wolff revealed that Mercedes had several concerns on both W06s during the race.

“We had some minor dramas with car, temperature-related issues,” he explained. “Lewis flat-spotted his tyre and that caused massive vibrations. When we took the tyre off it was flat-spotted down to the carcass, so that could have ended badly. We tweaked the power unit and the chassis a lot because we were seeing signs of reliability issues which worried us a bit.”


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