We are warriors but we'll always respect Ferrari - Wolff


Mercedes boss Toto Wolff won't let the bitter rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel scupper the good relationship enjoyed by the two teams away from the racetrack.

Vettel's successful opening salvo earlier in the season on the back of Ferrari's resurgence was welcomed by Hamilton who said he wanted nothing more than a valiant and worthy opponent to race against.

Vettel and Hamilton professed their mutual respect and admiration, but the pair's on-track clash in Baku last week has now blown apart that harmony, with the Brit saying his rival had disgraced himself by deliberately ramming into him in Azerbaijan.

Wolff acknowledged however that such a fiercely fought battle at the front was always going to challenge the relationship between the two men.

"The sport needs the rivalry and I think what we have seen in Baku has the ingredients of a great championship," Wolff said.

"At a certain stage the best ones compete for the world championship and in that phase of their life and career they can't be friends.

"Maybe we have seen a limitation of their respect."

Wolff insisted however that however brutal the fight could be, and through it the inevitable contention between Mercedes and Ferrari, he would always seek to preserve the friendly and respectful relationship between the two teams.

"For me the analogy is to rugby," he said.

"During the race Ferrari are our enemies and I wouldn't take any prisoners, but we must be capable, once the race is over, to have a beer like rugby players and acknowledge somebody's performance and acknowledge we are all warriors and fierce competitors out there.

"Nevertheless, we are racing on a joint platform and that somehow unites us."

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