Nico Rosberg has cautioned Toto Wolff’s rumoured departure from the Mercedes team principal role could trigger “a really bad turn of events” for the Formula 1 team.
The 2016 F1 world champion made the observation in a Sky Sports F1 discussion about why his former team-mate Lewis Hamilton is yet to sign a contract for next year.
In recent weeks Wolff has confirmed that his longer term role at the team is still under discussion and indicated that he might not be team principal from next season, while downplaying that a change will have any impact on Hamilton’s decision-making process.
However Rosberg suggests that Wolff’s future plans will indeed have an effect on Hamilton’s thinking because of the potential changes in the Brackley camp.
“I do think it matters,” Rosberg said on Sky Sports F1. “Because Lewis is very convinced that Toto is an integral part of the success of that team, which is true, because Toto absolutely is. And it’s not guaranteed that if Toto goes and there is a new leader that the stability remains.
“And also if Toto goes it could potentially be a spiralling effect, so that many of the team leaders in the leading positions say, ‘OK it’s the end of the an era, Toto’s going, I loved to work with him, let’s also move on to something new’. That could be a really bad turn of events for the team.”
Rosberg also made some intriguing observations about Sebastian Vettel, suggesting that his countryman has a “huge opportunity” at Aston Martin in 2020 after struggling at Ferrari over the past two seasons alongside Charles Leclerc.
“First of all these cars are much more nervous than we’ve ever seen,” said Rosberg. “The rear sometimes just snaps, and you can’t feel it. And that takes away confidence from drivers a lot. Sebastian has always been a driver who needs a stable rear end, he needs confidence in the rear end.
“I think he’s gone into a big negative spiral. Things start small, one big mistake when you’re in the lead in Hockenheim, another one here, another one there, and then it starts to become a big avalanche.
“It just spirals you negatively, and the more negative you are mentally the more doubtful you are, the more mistakes you do. It just goes from worst to worst to worst.
“The team also has Leclerc as their God, and he’s not the God anymore. That’s also a big spiral downwards, and that’s a big shock.
“He was the number one for Ferrari, for the whole country, and suddenly there’s this young Leclerc, signed on a five-year contract. I think it’s a big mental thing as well.
“His big chance is Aston Martin, it’s a huge opportunity. He’s going to be God again in that team, the car is fast, he can have some real success moments and have a positive mental spiral, and maybe come back to being as good as he used to be, and also remove those mistakes.
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“So it’s a big chance for him, and I’m really happy for him that he’s found that opportunity.”