Mercedes’ Toto Wolff: “The strategy team did so well and made great calls”

by Paul Hensby

Toto Wolff heralded the performance of Lewis Hamilton during Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix, with the Briton claiming an eighth victory of 2019 in tremendous fashion as a pit stop gamble from his strategy team paid off in his battle against Max Verstappen.

Verstappen had put his Red Bull Racing machine onto pole position and had led the majority of the race only to be caught and passed superbly by Hamilton, whose Mercedes AMG Motorsport tacticians had made the decision to pit him for a second time on lap forty-eight, giving him twenty-two laps to close down more than twenty seconds.

He only needed seventeen of them, with Hamilton using his tyre advantage to good use, making the pass into turn one to take his seventh career win at the Hungaroring and eighty-first of his incredible career, much to delight of his team principal Wolff.

“What an unbelievable comeback,” exclaimed Wolff.  “This is why we love the sport, you are holding onto moments like this, where it’s an unexpected result and this is why it feels so great.

“We didn’t think it would go this way but the strategy team did so well and made great calls.  There was a specific point in the race where we weren’t sure if Lewis would catch Max, but he got his head down and once the Red Bull was in sight, we knew he’d pounce.

“An incredible drive and a great result to head into the summer break with.”

Whereas Hamilton’s drive was superb, there was much less to cheer from the other side of the garage, with Valtteri Bottas being forced to come from the back of the field after an early pit stop for a front wing change after first lap contact with Charles Leclerc.

Wolff admitted it was tough for the Finn following his early stop, with Bottas only able to reclaim eighth, a lap down on Hamilton and Verstappen, after losing significant time passing the slower runners.

“On Valtteri’s side, it was a disappointing day,” admitted Wolff.  “He was so pumped for the race and his Qualifying performance was great.

“But, the first lap didn’t go well and from there it was tough for him to fight back through the field.”

Wolff says the first half of the season has been ‘fantastic’ with ten wins from twelve races, but the team will be using the break to recharge to ensure they come back stronger for the second half of the year, starting with the Belgian Grand Prix.

“It has been a fantastic first half of the season, with 10 wins from 12 races,” concluded Wolff.  “We will use the break to recharge our batteries – and hopefully return even stronger in Spa.”

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