Formula 1

Mercedes’ Wolff: “We extended our lead, but that isn’t what people will remember”

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Mercedes F1 W08 EQ power+ - Azerbaijan GP 2017. Credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team

Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team Boss Toto Wolff was pleased with the outcome of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, despite his drivers finishing in second and fifth place.

The Austrian felt they got the best result they could in what proved to be an extremely chaotic event, as well as boosting their position at the top of the constructor’s standings, which was a satisfying achievement.

“When the winner was at one point in P17, and the guy in second was a lap down and last after lap two, then you know it’s been a crazy day!

“Our big picture from today is that we extended our lead in the constructors’ championship by 16 points and confirmed we have a very fast race car. But that isn’t what people will remember.”

Driver Lewis Hamilton had a particularly eventful grand prix, in which he first of all had to put up with the wrath of a frustrated Sebastian Vettel when sat behind the safety car.

The Scuderia Ferrari driver was convinced the Brit had slowed down and brake checked him after the safety car had gone in, and took it upon himself to ram the side of the W08 to show his anger. However, FIA data produced following the race proved the German had been wrong, and Hamilton had done nothing out of order.

Vettel was given a ten-second stop/go penalty for his behaviour, but Mercedes feel this was perhaps not harsh enough.

“For Lewis, it was a really eventful race. With the Vettel incident, I think the FIA has made its decision during the race and we can’t rewind the race now. Emotions cook high in the moment but it doesn’t change the relationship between our two teams.

The Brit was then forced to make an unscheduled pit stop when his headrest bizarrely came loose. The Brit tried his best to lock it back into place whilst driving the track at break neck speeds, but was unable to keep it secure and was eventually instructed to pit by the powers that be.

That ultimately lost Hamilton the race, and he finished down the order in fifth place. It was not the perfect result by any stretch of the imagination, but Wolff was pleasantly surprised by the pace that Hamilton displayed.

“Then he was leading after the red flag when we had the problem with the headrest and had to change it; that cost him the win but we need to investigate what exactly happened there.

“It is never about blame; we look at the process to see what we can improve, then go to the next race better and stronger, and this is what we will do again as a team.

“But we should be encouraged with the pace Lewis had.”

Valtteri Bottas on the other hand went from being a lap down, following a collision with fellow compatriot Kimi Raikkonen on the first lap of the race, to second at the chequered flag.

It was the most unexpected of results, and was made all the more satisfying by Bottas snatching the spot from Williams Martini Racing rookie Lance Stroll on the line.

Wolff praised the Finn’s efforts, but also advised that they must learn from their errors in Baku, and ensure they perform better at the upcoming round in Austria.

“As for Valtteri, it just goes to show you can never give up. He did a sensational job from a lap down and it was the perfect finale to steal P2 on the line.

“But nevertheless it could have been P1 and P3 today, so we need to learn our lessons and keep pushing for the next race in Austria.”

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