Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes Formula 1 team are “a million times closer” than they were 12 months ago after clearing the air following his bitter rivalry with Nico Rosberg, according to squad chief Toto Wolff.

Much of the tension that brewed at Mercedes was defused when Rosberg announced his shock retirement after beating Hamilton to the F1 title at the end of last year, leaving the team to make way for Valtteri Bottas’ arrival.

Hamilton and Wolff held a now-famous ‘kitchen meeting’ to clear the air and discuss matters, laying the foundations for the Briton's successful charge to his fourth F1 world title in 2017.

“Every driver has the right to be upset when you lose a championship. You could not expect him to be all cheery when his teammate has just walked away with the title!" Wolff told the official F1 website.

“Another factor, of course, was that the relationship between the two was not great. Frustration had built up over the season on Lewis’s side, but not on the team side. Some of it was for very right reasons, but there are always two perspectives.

“Where it all changed for me was that meeting in the winter. It was not an easy discussion, but since then we’ve grown stronger together.

“And no doubt it is a perfect match: we provide the best car on the grid and he provides the strongest driving. So yes, it works for both of us.”

Asked if Hamilton and Mercedes were closer than before, Wolff said: “A million times closer.

“Sometimes all it takes is to agree that you disagree. And then move on. In any functioning relationship of mine it is never plain sailing.

“You grow in difficult moments, and that goes for him and myself.”