Alain Prost gave Mercedes crucial advice early this year to help avoid a repeat of his troubled pairing with Ayrton Senna in the late 80s. Only in the past days has the bitter extent of the intra-team championship clash between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg become clearer.
Briton Hamilton suspected Rosberg deliberately faked a mistake to spoil his qualifying session at Monaco, and a few months later at Spa all-out "war" was declared as the pair collided. It reminded many observers of the iconic Prost versus Senna battles of 1988 and 1989, when the fiery duo went head-to-head as dominant McLaren teammates.
Mercedes' similar 2014 clash was managed by relative team boss newcomer Toto Wolff, who confirmed to Italy's Autosprint this week that he took advice straight from Frenchman Prost's mouth. "You have to learn from past mistakes," Wolff said. "I discussed it a bit with Niki Lauda when we signed Hamilton and Rosberg."
"Then at the beginning of this season I was talking with Prost and I asked him his opinion about what I should do not to fall into the same all-out war situation he had with Ayrton," Austrian Wolff explained. "Then he said the magic word -- transparency. He told me that at the time McLaren did not act in a transparent way with the drivers. Perhaps because Senna was the last to arrive so he was the novelty."
"Prost said that in the end he couldn't understand how the team was organised as disagreements and rivalries between the drivers spread to the mechanics. The team was split in two. So Alain gave me very precise advice not to do the same. (He said) 'Put the two drivers on an even footing and tell everyone exactly the same things. Do not play favourites. It is the only way to contain the rivalry'. And so I did. It was one of the most important lessons I have learned about becoming a good team leader," Wolff added. (GMM)