In the wake of George Russell’s collision with Lewis Hamilton at the Qatar Grand Prix, former Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg has offered a valuable perspective. Rosberg, who once had a heated rivalry with Hamilton as his teammate at Mercedes, urged Russell not to be the “nice guy” and to assert himself within the Mercedes team. The incident in Qatar brought to light the need for healthy competition between teammates and raised questions about the dynamics at Mercedes.
During the Qatar Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton attempted to pass his teammate, George Russell, on softer tires by going around the outside at the first corner. Unfortunately, Hamilton’s move misfired, resulting in contact between the two Mercedes drivers. The collision sent Hamilton spinning into the gravel and out of the race. While Hamilton took responsibility for the incident, it was not the first time the duo had experienced such flashpoints during the season.
Just two weeks prior to the Qatar race, Russell and Hamilton engaged in intense wheel-to-wheel combat on the track, narrowly avoiding a similar catastrophe. Mercedes team management has expressed their preference for a competitive edge between their drivers, emphasizing the need for tension in the team. Bradley Lord, Mercedes’ communications chief, stated, “There should be a little bit of tension there because they are competitors, and we don’t want puppy dogs in the car, we want lions, and that’s what we’ve got.”
Nico Rosberg, now a Formula 1 pundit, shared his insights on the matter during the Sky Sports F1 podcast. Drawing from his personal experience of competing against Hamilton at Mercedes in 2016, Rosberg emphasized the importance of being assertive and standing one’s ground when necessary. “Things have been heating up there because also, in Suzuka, it was well over the limit on one occasion when they both took each other off the track,” he noted.
Rosberg continued, “It’s a very difficult situation for George as well. Unfortunately, you can’t just be the nice guy in that situation – you have to also keep the pressure on. You have to make it difficult for the team, unfortunately. It sucks, but otherwise, the team will always just take the easiest route.”
Remarkably, in the aftermath of the Qatar collision, Lewis Hamilton admitted fault for the incident. Rosberg pointed out the significance of this admission, saying, “It was a good one in Qatar for George because Lewis actually admitted [he was at fault]. So that was a big win for George in that sense, also internally, which is very rare because in my time Lewis never had 100 percent fault.”
According to Bradley Lord, the real challenge for Mercedes lies in maintaining a healthy and trusting relationship between their two star drivers while embracing the tension that comes with competition. He emphasized the drivers’ ability to work together as a team to achieve the team’s objectives. “I think Lewis, again, has paid tribute to the quality of his relationship with George after the race,” Lord stated, expressing his confidence that the team will come back stronger after resolving the incident.