Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff believes he may have to run Formula One drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton as two separate teams if they continue to dominate the sport.
Hamilton and Rosberg have won 32 of the last 38 races, with the former claiming the drivers’ championship, the latter finishing second and Mercedes winning the constructors’ championship in both of the last two seasons.
Mercedes’ dominance has also coincided with a major drop in interest around the sport, and Wolff believes continued victories may see them become villains in the storyline; citing Red Bull as a prime example.
“Our dominance is bad for Formula One. It is. It makes the racing boring. It becomes predictable how the result is going to be. The sport needs multiple winners,” he told the Daily Mail.
“It needs the odd freak result. It needs the underdog to win. The moment you become a dominant force, you suffer and your brand suffers. You become the dark side of the force.
“It even happened to Red Bull. They joined the sport. They were the Jedis. They jumped in the pool when they finished third in Monaco with Coulthard. They had the Formula Unas, the girls around the paddock. They had the Red Bulletin. They were controversial. They had a superb brand.
“But after winning the world title four times in a row, they developed into an unsympathetic brand. Nobody wants the establishment.
“If you start to behave like the establishment, you are finished and people will have animosity against you. So our dominance is bad for Formula One and it’s bad for us, but what can I do?”
The rivalry between Mercedes’ drivers has become increasingly heated over the last two seasons, with Rosberg complaining that Hamilton has been too aggressive when the two battled for position.
Wolff says the answer to this dilemma, the drop in interest in Formula One and the risk of becoming the most disliked team could be to make the drivers compete as individuals.
“I want the dominance to continue but if it were to continue like this, I need to think what to do so we do not become the enemy and how we can help the show,” he said.
“Maybe it’s about unleashing the two of them completely. Make them have their own strategy cars. That would be a solution.
“We had a more relaxed approach this year, letting them fight it out on the track and it might have a new dimension next year.
“I want to contain it. I don’t want fighting in the team. I’d like the boxers to fight but not the trainers and the physios and everybody around the ring.
“I’d like the boxers to behave like boxers who fight very hard but after the fight has finished, you can be a sportsman and embrace your enemy. But the dilemma is there. It is easy when it is theory.
“Understand that you are a role model. If you cause controversy, your animosity, your moods, your oscillations in behaviour, spill over into the team.
“People are going to copy you. People are going to react according to that. I want to have a positive mood. That message was not only to them. That message was to the whole team.”