Wolff: Dropping either Hamilton or Rosberg a last resort for Mercedes


Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff has said that dropping either Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg would be a “worst case” for the German team, and he doubts that their intra-team relationship would ever be bad enough to warrant such drastic action.

The media has been rife with speculation about possible action following the collision between the two drivers at the Belgian Grand Prix two weeks ago. When trying to overtake Hamilton, Rosberg made contact with his teammate, leaving the Briton with a puncture.

Hamilton eventually had to retire from the race, causing him to drop a further 18 points back in the race for the world championship behind Rosberg, who went on to finish in second place. The gap now stands at 29 points at the top.

Following a meeting with the team, Rosberg apologized to Hamilton for causing the incident, and both drivers were told in no uncertain terms that a repeat incident would not be tolerated.

Last night, in an interview with the BBC, Wolff admitted that if the two drivers could not work together, the team “would have to take decisions and take the consequences of having a different line-up.”

When asked about his comments in today’s FIA press conference, Wolff made clear that this was only a worst case scenario for Mercedes, and he cannot foresee a situation where the team would have to make a change.

“Obviously at this stage, we are very happy with the line-up, with the two drivers,” he explained. “We have always said that.

“We trust them, and we had a very good discussion with the two of them, a very clear discussion. We’ve always said that this [collision] shouldn’t happen. I think at that stage of the season it was important to re-emphasize that.

“My statement about what would if we couldn’t get on top of it? This is a very very worst case.

“I don’t think we will ever get to that.”

Internal rivalries have famously caused some big splits in Formula 1 over the years. Fernando Alonso walked away from McLaren at the end of 2007 following a tough year alongside Hamilton, but most famously, Alain Prost left McLaren following the arrival of Ayrton Senna. Their rivalry ended in two on-track crashes at championship-deciding races, and was chronicled in the 2010 film Senna.

Of course, the Hamilton-Rosberg rivalry is nowhere near this level yet, but it is creating a great storyline for the 2014 F1 season.

You can watch the latest fight for supremacy between Rosberg and Hamilton on NBCSN tomorrow in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix, live from 8am ET.

NTT re-signs as IndyCar title sponsor in multiyear deal starting with the 2024 season

James Black/Penske Entertainment

The IndyCar Series has re-signed NTT as its title sponsor in a multiyear agreement starting in 2024.

NTT, a global information technology and communications company based in Japan, became the series’ title sponsor before the 2019 season after starting as a sponsor of the No. 10 Dallara-Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing.

NTT Data (a subsidiary of parent company Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp.) will remain the official technology partner of IndyCar, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indy 500 and the NASCAR Brickyard weekend.

With the extension, an IndyCar spokesman said NTT would become the second-longest title sponsor in series history. The longest title sponsor was PPG from 1980-97 (under the CART sanction of the Champ Car Series).

NTT replaced Verizon, which was IndyCar’s title sponsor from 2014-18 after IZOD from 2010-13.

“NTT is an excellent partner across our enterprise with strong expertise and a deep commitment to our sport,” Penske Corp. chairman and IndyCar owner Roger Penske said in a release. “From Smart Venue technology at the Racing Capital of the World to the reimagined Series mobile application, NTT is transforming the fan experience in new and innovative ways. We look forward to a bright future together.”

NTT has used artificial intelligence-enabled optical detection technology at IMS to provide information to the track’s operations and security teams, helping improve fan traffic flow and safety, the track said.

“IndyCar is a great partner for NTT Data because of our shared commitment to driving innovation, increasing sustainability and delivering amazing experiences,” NTT Data CEO Kaz Nishihata said in a release. “We also appreciate how IndyCar is so diverse, with drivers from 15 different countries, and races that range from short ovals and superspeedways to road and street courses. It’s both an incredible sport and a wonderful example for our world.”

NTT also has been instrumental in helping redesign the IndyCar app and providing more race and driver data for use in NBC Sports’ broadcasts by utilizing 140 data points from every car in the field.

“NTT is fully invested in the development and growth of our sport and has already established a terrific track record in our industry with problem-solving capabilities and access to top talent and tools,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said.

Said NTT Data Services CEO Bob Pryor: “We’re thrilled to continue our collaborations that enhance and expand the fan experience for motorsports and serve as proof points for data analytics, AI, and other innovative digital technologies. For more than a century, this racing series has pioneered innovations making driving safer for everyone, and by continuing this relationship, we will accelerate the pace of innovations and new technologies, particularly related to sustainability that ultimately can benefit organizations, communities and individuals around the world.”

Starting as a Japanese telephone company, NTT grew into a $100 billion-plus tech services giant with U.S. operations based in Plano, Texas.