Wolff: Barcelona test showed why Hamilton is the best paid driver

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Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff admits that watching Lewis Hamilton go about his work during the first test of the Formula 1 preseason test in Barcelona, reaffirmed why the sport’s dominant team dishes out over $30-million annually for his services.

Wolff told iNews, “Seeing Lewis operate, and seeing him again this week (shakes head). What I saw in the long runs was just the best of the whole week of testing. Just unbelievable, whatever that skill set is. It is difficult to describe what he feels.”

“Lewis is an exceptional individual and edgy person that when he operates on a high is unbeatable. When Lewis has that 100 per cent thing going on he is your man. These are the days when you know why he is in that car, and why he is the best paid driver.”

“The race that comes into mind is Monaco last year when it was raining and our car was not fastest, and lacking grip in the wet. He was unbelievable.”

Managing Hamilton has not bee a bed of roses for Wolff and Mercedes, there have been spats and sulks since he joined the Silver Arrows in 2013, but at the same time there are two FGormula 1 world titles in the bag as well as 32 grand prix winner’s trophies on the mantelpiece.

Wolff ventured, Talent management is not about one individual but 1,500. The other 1,499 make his car. I make no difference between Lewis and the other guys in this respect. That’s important, and their relationship with Lewis is great. Besides, Lewis is such a hard worker. When you see him at the last test, the diligence he applies to his work (again, a shake of the head).”

Hamilton is a regular feature at A-list events and red carpet superstar functions, but when he puts on his helmet and shuts his visor it’s all about the racing.

“They dream if they think fashion shows are his main thing,” said Wolff. “He is not only the best racing driver at the moment but also that interesting personality. He gives the tabloids lots of stories. He provides narrative. In order to be glorified you need to provide drama and he gives them all of that. He is a media phenomenon as well as a very skilled racing driver.”

As for the tensions that inevitably engulf the team, a recent example being the constantly simmering feud with his former teammate Nico Rosberg, Wolff explained, “Lewis works best in a climate of adversity. You need to allow drama to happen. If you streamline emotions because you want to be too corporate, you are losing something. F1 is what it is because of controversy.”