Mercedes’ Toto Wolff: “In any normal race we would have pitted Lewis”


Großer Preis der USA 2016, Samstag. Credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team

Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff, was pleased to bring home a one-two finish at the Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday, but made it clear the race was far from an easy one for the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team.

It was a day of tough choices for the German squad’s engineers who had to make the decision whether to pit driver Lewis Hamilton straightaway following his big lock up at Turn 1, which saw the Brit flat spot the his tyres massively, or allow him to continue on whilst managing the resulting vibrations.

Had it not been such a close run battle for the title right now, Wolff indicated that they would likely have pitted the Brit rather than leaving him out to gamble on what might happen.

“Maybe that race looked straightforward from the outside but it really wasn’t from within the team.”

“It all began at Turn One when Lewis flat spotted his front right tyre under braking. That gave us a really tough call to make because we could see the vibrations getting worse and some of the peaks he was hitting were pretty scary.

“In any normal race we would have pitted him because of the risk of tyre failure or maybe worse but of course today that stop would have cost him the Championship.”

Hamilton has endured a run of bad luck this year, but the Austrian feels that was somewhat written off, thanks to his good fortune in making it through that first stint yesterday, without problem.

“We had a lot of debate with the engineers, balancing the positive and negative aspects of the decision, and we were monitoring the numbers every single lap.

“But in the end, some of Lewis’ bad luck this year got cancelled out today by making it through this situation and we pulled him into the pits as early as we could to make the one-stop strategy work.”

The 44-year-old praised both his drivers for superbly managing the high exhaust temperatures that Hamilton and team-mate Nico Rosberg were experiencing throughout the race, and also commended Rosberg for keeping calm and measured despite the pressure from advancing Red Bull Racing drivers, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, to bring home that second place.

“From there, he was able to control his pace all the way to the end, in spite of some high exhaust temperatures that meant we were juggling with engine modes to look after everything properly.

“For Nico, it was a bit tougher today as he was at risk from the Red Bulls through the race. Under some big pressure, he didn’t put a foot wrong, kept a cool head and finished in a very solid second position, managing the same temperature issues as Lewis in the final laps.”

Wolff also congratulated Hamilton for equalling the career win record of Alain Prost, by taking his 51st victory this weekend, and completing a strong performance for the team.

“Overall, it was a great day, with Lewis showing he is one of the greats of our sport by equalling Prost’s record of 51 wins. Congratulations to him for this incredible achievement.”

Wolff has vowed that the team will do everything they can to ensure both drivers have the perfect machinery to work with as they continue their battle for the title at the next round in Brazil, where Rosberg could be crowned champion, but not if Hamilton has anything to do with it!

“And now we head to Brazil with everything delicately poised. Lewis will keep fighting to the end but the championship is now in Nico’s hands – a win in Sao Paulo could make him Champion.

“Our job is simple: to give the boys a perfect, fault-free car to battle it out on track and that will be the entire focus of our preparations.”