Toto Wolff says there was more to the Japanese Grand Prix than met the eye despite the Austrian watchin Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas claim what appeared to be a straightforward one-two finish for Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport on Sunday.
Hamilton led away from pole position and was never headed as he took his ninth victory of the season, while Bottas withstood late race pressure from Max Verstappen to claim another second-place finish, his seventh of the season.
However, Wolff, the Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, says there were issues for the team at the Suzuka International Racing Course, with Hamilton suffering with some driveability issues with his engine while both drivers were managing their tyres to avoid blistering them too much. They also were concerned about the pace of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing behind them, with Verstappen, in particular, impossible to shake off.
“That was a very tense Grand Prix for us,” said Wolff. “It might have looked pretty smooth from outside but within the team we were managing blisters in the tyres, some driveability issues with Lewis’ power unit and very competitive Red Bulls behind us.
“So to take a 1-2 for the second race in a row is pretty special – not just for the trackside team here after a tough back-to-back, but for everybody back in Brackley and Brixworth who have poured their efforts into developing this car and power unit.”
Wolff says it is guaranteed that Mercedes will continue to work as hard as they have been across the remaining four races of the season to ensure they secure both the Drivers’ Championship for Hamilton and the Constructors’ Championship for the team.
Hamilton has a sixty-seven-point advantage over Sebastian Vettel in the Drivers’ standings, while Mercedes sit seventy-eight points ahead of Scuderia Ferrari in the Constructors’ with just the races in the United States of America, Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi to come.
“There hasn’t been a single silver bullet – just a lot of hard work, creativity and a mind set to channel the pressure of the competition and keep pushing hard to achieve our objectives,” said Wolff. “The approach will remain the same in the coming races: we will not let up one single bit when it comes to bringing more performance to the car and keep taking everything day by day.
“It has been an important week for the team and we have come out of the challenges we faced even stronger than before. From here, every race is like a mini-championship and we need to keep aligning our race weekends in the same way we achieved in Sochi and Suzuka.”