Mercedes AMG Motorsport boss Toto Wolff says his team will not be focusing on clinching Lewis Hamilton his fifth World Championship in this evening’s United States Grand Prix.
Hamilton’s car will line up on pole position with his only remaining championship rival Sebastian Vettel staring in fifth after picking up a three-place grid penalty during first practice on Friday.
The Scuderia Ferrari driver needs to make sure Hamilton does not outscore him by more than seven points to prevent him from securing the title tonight – but has Daniel Ricciardo, Valterri Bottas and his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen to pass.
“That was a really intense qualifying session – but this is the kind of battle that the sport should be all about,” said Wolff. “In recent days, everybody has been talking down Ferrari and talking us up, but we knew those extremes wouldn’t be reflected in reality.
“Ferrari have had incredible straight line speed so far this weekend and they carried that through into qualifying, where we expected to have a very tough fight on our hands.
“And that’s how it proved, with Lewis pulling out that something extra to find pole in the car today.”
Despite Hamilton taking his eighty-first pole position yesterday, it is Raikkonen who will start the race on the faster tyre and will hope to have the pace advantage during the early phases.
“We’re happy to be on the first two rows with both Lewis and Valtteri – but we will have a tyre disadvantage to Kimi at the start, and we will need a good first lap to hold position,” said Wolff. “This race is not about the world championship, it is about trying to maximise the potential of our package and deliver the best performance we can.
“And hopefully that can take us another step closer to our goal.”