Toto Wolff heralded Lewis Hamilton’s victory at the Spanish Grand Prix as ‘epic’ after the Briton went toe-to-toe with Sebastian Vettel and came out on top on Sunday.
The Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport was full of praise for the whole Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team following the race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, including Valtteri Bottas, who despite failing to finish was praised for the defensive driving against Vettel that gave Hamilton the opportunity to stay in touch.
“That was an epic Grand Prix,” said Wolff. “Racing simply doesn’t go more wheel to wheel – and we were treated to some fantastic racing for the win.
“Today’s win was one for the whole team: an amazing drive from Lewis, great calls by our strategy team, good defensive driving by Valtteri, the fastest pit stops of the race and a quick, consistent upgraded car. Everything clicked and came together for us.”
Wolff revealed that the decision from Scuderia Ferrari to pit early denied them the opportunity to use the undercut to jump Vettel, so they switched strategies to allow Hamilton the chance to come back at the German later in the race, which paid off handsomely.
“It wasn’t an easy race after we lost position at the start: we were on the back foot, so when Vettel covered the early undercut, we sent Lewis long and took the medium tyre – to give us options at the end with another set of softs,” said Wolff.
“Then we made perfect use of the VSC and took a risk to run nearly half the race on a set of softs: we thought it would work out but it was always going to be tight. After that, it came down to some brilliant driving and then managing the tyres and engine just right to the final lap.”
Although happy with the victory, Wolff acknowledged it was not the perfect day for the team, with Bottas retiring from the race with a mechanical issue, but he insisted the Finn drove a good race, especially as he was running with some damage after his first lap clash with Kimi Raikkonen.
“But it was not a perfect day: we lost one car with a technical failure and Valtteri struggled with a damaged car after the contact at Turn 1,” said Wolff. “In spite of that, he drove well and the one-stop approach could have worked out for him until the VSC happened.
“But it was a day when only one Ferrari finished, so in spite of the retirement, we built up our championship lead. But this was Lewis’ day with a supreme drive. People have been asking me if Lewis is now back. The truth is he has never been away – and today’s showed it.”