Toto Wolff believes Lewis Hamilton was a raw diamond when he joined Mercedes and has made spectacular personal development with the team.
Hamilton missed out on the drivers’ world championship in his rookie season at McLaren by just one point but secured his first title the following year, and went on to take 21 victories in six years for the team. Now in his seventh season since joining Mercedes, Hamilton has won four drivers’ championships and 60 races, and Wolff says his team has provided the environment required to allow him to fulfill has potential.
Hamilton was spectacular on his debut with McLaren in 2007, but Wolff sees clear development of his skills and character since. Image by Staley/LAT.
“He’s an integral part of the team and has developed as a racing driver, but even more spectacularly as a human being,” Mercedes team boss Wolff (pictured at right, top, with Hamilton) said. “When he joined from McLaren it was, for me, like a raw diamond in a sense. You could see complications in his life, and may be lack of stability understanding what was needed.
“All that has disappeared through the Mercedes years. Every year he became a better Lewis and, knock on wood, in the last two or three years we’ve barely seen any mistakes; and if they happen he was the first one to admit them and then has contributed to our culture of being brutally honest with each other.”
Wolff added that giving Hamilton the ability to pursue other interests outside of F1 is central to getting the most out of him within the car.
“I think we need to stop putting people in boxes and say this is how a racing driver has to be. Put simply, make the effort to try and understand the human behind the helmet and try to carve out the framework that makes that person the best him, or the best her, and make them perform at the very top.
“I believe that Lewis has other interests, be it music or fashion, and it takes his mind off between races. Having a good time is something that I think is very positive and very important for his performance on the racetrack. We are very open with each other on what we do. We Facetime, we send videos. I feel in a very good place with him.”
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