Mercedes AMG Motorsport boss Toto Wolff admitted that his team did not know if Lewis Hamilton would be able to start the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix, a race he went on to win.
Hamilton claimed victory in controversial circumstances, after on-track race winner Sebastian Vettel was handed a five-second time penalty for rejoining the track in a dangerous manner and impeding Hamilton on lap 48 of 70 at the Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve.
Seven-time Canadian GP winner Hamilton had suffered a scrappy weekend before his win, crashing in Free Practice 2 and needing an emergency hydraulic system replacement on Sunday morning to repair a leak.
“What looks to be a victory was a very tough weekend for the team behind the scenes,” said Wolff.
“We had a car that was in a million bits because of the hydraulic leak. We weren’t sure whether we could race it, whether it would finish the race.
“Then half the team was suffering from a flu, which nobody sees. It was just a matter of pushing through.”
Hamilton was slow to pull away on the formation lap behind the Scuderia Ferrari of Vettel, expressing his concern over the radio and needing reassurance from race engineer Peter Bonnington.
Mercedes’ updated ‘Phase 2’ power unit was also a cause for concern, with Racing Point F1 Team driver Lance Stroll forced to change units to the older specification before qualifying – having suffered a spectacular failure in Saturday morning’s Free Practice 3 session.
After Stroll’s fiery blowout, Wolff was adamant that Mercedes would not turn down its engines during the grand prix in order to safeguard against a repeat failure.
“We had the engine that blew up on Lance’s car, which we didn’t know if it would affect us,” he continued.
“Overall it was one of the most difficult race weekends I can remember even though it didn’t look like this from the outside at all.”