Mercedes’ Toto Wolff: “The development race is on”

Credit: Steve Etherington

Toto Wolff was pleased with the fight back from the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team as Lewis Hamilton took their first victory of the 2017 season at the Shanghai International Circuit on Sunday.

The Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport saw Hamilton lead every lap having started from pole position, and set the fastest lap in the process, and he praised the Briton for a mistake-free afternoon in China.

“This was a great drive by Lewis and a great result,” said Wolff. “Pace-wise, things looked pretty good out there today in all conditions, although there wasn’t much between us and Ferrari when we were running in free air.

“For Lewis, it was a pretty drama-free afternoon: he was managing the pace in the right way, our strategy was spot on and, on an afternoon when there was lots of scope for making mistakes, he didn’t put a foot wrong.”

Wolff was disappointed that Valtteri Bottas could only finish sixth after an unusual mistake when he spun while attempting to warm his tyres up behind the safety car, but was pleased that the Finn was able to drive strongly after his error having fallen to twelfth.

“As for Valtteri, his spin behind the Safety Car was unfortunate and cost him a lot of time,” said Wolff. “Mistakes like this happen but it was encouraging to see he had the pace in the car after that and could at least battle back to the position he held before the spin.

“Now he needs to forget about it and concentrate on the next race.”

Wolff overall was happy that Mercedes returned to winning ways after the disappointment of the Australian Grand Prix, and feels the development race between them and Scuderia Ferrari will be important to see who comes out on top this season.

“Overall it’s now 1:1 for us against Ferrari and the development race is on,” said Wolff. “This is just the beginning…”