Wolff Delighted with ‘Fantastic Start’ to 2019 after Three 1-2s for Mercedes

by Paul Hensby
Lewis Hamilton & Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport - Shanghai International Circuit

Toto Wolff knows it is imperative for his Mercedes-AMG Motorsport team to continue to push if they are to successfully defend both their Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship titles in 2019.

Despite three one-two finishes in the opening three races, something the team had not managed in any previous campaign despite winning both titles in each of the past five seasons, Wolff knows the team has not always had the quickest car on the grid, particularly in Bahrain where they inherited a lucky result thanks to an engine issue for long-time leader Charles Leclerc.

Wolff, the Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, says he is pleased to have been able to maximise their start to the season, with Valtteri Bottas winning the opening race of the season in Australia and Lewis Hamilton the next two in Bahrain and China, and he remains adamant that the team must continue to push to their full potential if they are to retain this momentum and keep their main rivals at Scuderia Ferrari on their toes.

“Three 1-2s in the first three races represent a fantastic start to the season,” said Wolff.  “We were able to maximise our opportunities, although we didn’t always have the fastest car.

“The team has done a very good job and performed strongly in every department, the double-stacked pit stop in Shanghai is just one visible example of many that are happening every week at all levels of the team.

“But we know that we need to keep pushing.”

Mercedes has yet to see both drivers finish on the podium at the Baku Street Circuit, while both Nico Rosberg and Hamilton each having taken one victory in Azerbaijan, either side of Daniel Ricciardo’s triumph for Red Bull Racing in 2017.

Wolff admits the track presents ‘unique challenges’ to the team thanks to its long straight and tight turns, but history proves it is not outright performance that proves decisive on the day in Baku but the importance of luck and staying out of trouble.

“The next stop will take us to Azerbaijan where we’ve seen some very entertaining races in recent years and I’m sure that this year will be no different,” said Wolff.  “The layout of the track presents unique challenges and it will be interesting to see which team will find the best compromise to deal with the mixture of long straights and slow corners.

“Baku is not purely about performance, though, and staying out of trouble is also important for a good result in Azerbaijan.”

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