Toto Wolff compared Lewis Hamilton’s relationship with Mercedes to his marriage

Toto Wolff compared Lewis Hamilton's relationship with Mercedes to his own marriage after the British driver lost the 2016 F1 title to Nico Rosberg.

Wolff, 50, is the team principal, holds a 30 per cent stake in the manufacturer and is, ultimately, Hamilton's boss, but he hasn't always enjoyed the best relationship with the seven-time champion.

Their relationship became strained in the wake of a tense title battle between Hamilton and Rosberg, which ended with the German securing his one and only crown by five points.

Things came to a head during a Christmas bash at Wolff's home later that year, with an analogy involving the Austrian manager's wife Susie helping set them on the right path.

"We met at the Christmas party in my home in Oxfordshire that December, reluctantly," Wolff told The Times. "I said we need to decide whether we want to work together or not.

"'You want to win as a driver, I want to win as a team. Sometimes our different agendas are going to lead to conflict and we need to decide whether we can cope with that situation.

"We were in my kitchen. I said to him, and Susie didn’t much like this analogy, that even though Susie and I might disagree about something, it would never come into my mind to divorce.

"'And it’s the same with you Lewis,’ I said. ‘I don’t want a divorce. You’re the best driver. I want you in our car and we want to provide you with the best car.'"

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Things could have gone one of two ways.

But as anyone who has followed F1 since will know, the two have combined to form a winning partnership not seen since the days of Michael Schumacher and Jean Todt.

"We kind of went into this discussion at loggerheads and then, after four or five hours in the kitchen, we found ourselves on a totally different level," Wolff added.

"A purely business related relationship had become a personal relationship. He’s a friend. Doesn’t mean we don’t argue anymore but now, Lewis’s success is the team’s success, and the team’s success is Lewis’s success."

Hamilton has notched four more drivers' titles since that fateful evening, only missing out on a fifth in controversial circumstances in Abu Dhabi last December.

And Hamilton's success has also been the team's success, with Mercedes wrapping up their eighth straight constructors' title last term.

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