Toto Wolff admitted the safety car came out just at the right time during the Belgian Grand Prix, with its introduction enabling the team to switch Lewis Hamilton to a new set of Soft tyres without worries about losing the lead.
A blister had been developing on one of Hamilton’s rear tyres and there were plans for him to run until the chequered flags on that set, but the safety car enabled them to fit for fresh rubber.
Wolff, the Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, felt it was a faultless weekend from Hamilton at Spa-Francorchamps, who’s fifty-eighth career victory on his two hundredth Grand Prix closed the gap on Sebastian Vettel in the championship to just seven points.
“That was a fantastic drive from Lewis to finish off a perfect weekend from him,” said Wolff. “It was a great result for the championship and a faultless performance.
“He defended well on the opening lap then it was a battle lap by lap to stretch out the gap to Sebastian. After the pit stop, we saw a small blister on one of his rear tyres and we had some question marks about whether they would last to the finish.
“Then the Safety Car came out and made the decision easier for us. We had a discussion about which tyres to fit – we didn’t have a new set of Ultrasoft remaining, and the team on the pit wall knew that the Soft would be the better tyre over the stint – if we could defend in those first laps after the restart.
“As Lewis showed, it was the right decision, and he delivered a great win.”
Unfortunately, it was not all plain sailing for Mercedes, with Valtteri Bottas on the other side of the garage having a much trickier weekend, which culminated in the Finn finishing off the podium in fifth. Wolff revealed that Bottas had been struggling with traction all weekend long, with it costing him the opportunity to fight for a podium.
“From Valtteri’s side, we struggled with his car this weekend, and especially in traction as you could see on the TV pictures at the restart,” said Wolff.
“We need to find out what happened there – and likewise, he will be the first to be self-critical about losing the positions after the restart.”
Wolff expects Scuderia Ferrari to be strong again next weekend at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, but he insists Mercedes will continue to push themselves on and get the best possible result in each of the last eight races.
“Now we move on to Monza,” said Wolff. “Ferrari were very strong here and we can expect exactly the same at their home race.
“Our job is to keep pushing, keep bringing performance to the car and to make sure we deliver all of our potential at every race from here to the end of the season.”