Mercedes’ Toto Wolff: “Sometimes it’s not the quickest car that wins”


(From L to R) Valtteri Bottas, Dr. Dieter Zetsche & Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport - Hockenheimring
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Toto Wolff heralded an incredible race for the Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport team at the Hockenheimring on Sunday, with Lewis Hamilton climbing from fourteenth position on the grid to win ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

It was the first time that Mercedes finished one-two in their home Grand Prix, with the result being made possible by the retirement from the lead of Sebastian Vettel, with the Scuderia Ferrari driver spearing into the barriers in the stadium section when the rain began to fall in the final third of the race.

“What an incredible race – here at Hockenheim, on home turf for Mercedes, and a one-two finish after all the bad luck we have had in recent races,” said Wolff, the head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport.

“Today it felt like that turned into good fortune for us and it was the perfect scene on the podium with our two drivers and Dr [Dieter] Zetsche [Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars] up there.”

Wolff admitted the fastest car did not win the German Grand Prix but sometimes that does happen in Formula 1, with Vettel and Ferrari being the driver and car to beat this weekend.   However, he knows the race is won on a Sunday, not on a Saturday, and when the German crashed out, Mercedes were able to capitalise and take a one-two finish.

“Like always, the race happens on Sunday not Saturday, and sometimes it’s not the quickest car that wins; that was what happened today,” he said.  “It’s hard to sum up a Grand Prix like this one in a few sentences but things were unfolding in an interesting way when the rain came.  

“Valtteri was planning to make the one-stop plan work, and looked like he was in better shape with his tyres than the Ferraris ahead.  Likewise, Lewis had great pace running long on the soft tyre, then was poised to hunt down the guys in front in the second part of the race.

Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport - Hockenheimring
Valtteri Bottas finished second in Germany – Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

“Things were pretty chaotic when the Safety Car came out – it was a very late call, a lot of traffic on the radio and we ended up with one car in the pits and one car out on track. In the end, this covered every option for us – then the battle was on when they went back to racing.

“With so much at stake, and after the misfortune of recent weeks, we took the call to tell Valtteri to hold position; it would have been the same if the cars had been the other way round, too, because we needed to protect the one-two and avoid losing one or both cars.”

Wolff felt the result in Germany was just reward for the toils the team has been through in recent weeks, with Ferrari and Vettel snatching victory at Silverstone before Hamilton’s stoppage in Qualifying that resulted in him starting down in fourteenth.

“After the drama of Silverstone and then qualifying yesterday, this is a dream result and that unpredictability is the beauty of sport,” said the Austrian.  “But our focus will turn quickly to Hungary, where we will have to do it all over again next weekend.”

A reflective Wolff also took time to wish Sergio Marchionne, the recently departed Ferrari President, well after the Italian’s health declined, and he acknowledges that despite being rivals on track, there is a friendship off it.

“Even in the joy of victory, our thoughts also remain with Sergio Marchionne and his family; although we are rivals on the track, we are friends off it and we were saddened to hear the news of his illness,” said Wolff.