Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff reheat Mercedes partnership in kitchen

• Hamilton says team are going to be stronger after talks
• Mercedes make Valtteri Bottas No1 target to replace Nico Rosberg

Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff have declared their partnership will be stronger than ever next year at Mercedes.

The former world champion and Mercedes’ head of motorsport seemed to be at odds at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as Hamilton defied team orders in his attempt to snatch the Formula One drivers’ title off team-mate Nico Rosberg.

However, following Rosberg’s retirement, Mercedes have been forced into focusing on ironing out any issues with Hamilton as they continue their search for the world champion’s replacement.

Valtteri Bottas is Mercedes’ No1 choice to replace the German but Williams have rejected an opening offer to release the Finn from his 2017 contract.

In two short videos posted by Hamilton on Instagram on Sunday night, the 31-year-old revealed he had held a meeting in Wolff’s kitchen, where the pair are seen sitting alongside each other.

“We just had an amazing meeting,” Hamilton said. “I just wanted to send on a message to let you know that we are going to be the strongest partnership next year and we look forward to fighting for this championship again.”

Wolff, who said on Friday that in hindsight Mercedes should have let the two drivers race “in the way they deemed to be appropriate” in Abu Dhabi, also wants to put the controversy behind them.

“We spent a good couple of hours together,” Wolff said. “We had a really fantastic meeting and we will be coming back so strong in 2017.”

Mercedes could, however, be without their technical director, Paddy Lowe, for next season after the 54-year-old was linked with a return to Williams.


Mark Dobson

The GuardianTramp

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