Toto Wolff said it was pleasing to come away from Spa-Francorchamps with a double podium, with the team principal of Mercedes AMG Motorsport happy to see both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas put in strong drives on Sunday.
Hamilton started third but finished less than a second away from race winner Charles Leclerc of Scuderia Ferrari, while Bottas ended the day on the bottom step of the podium, comfortably clear of the second Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel.
Wolff felt the straight-line speed advantage of Ferrari had made life difficult for Mercedes, particularly in the first and third sectors of the lap around Spa, although he admitted there may have been a way to get Hamilton ahead of Leclerc had they contemplated a slightly earlier pit stop than they actually did.
“Overall, this was a weekend of damage limitation for us in terms of the championships, so we can be satisfied to come away with a double podium finish and two strong drives from Lewis and Valtteri,” said Wolff.
“We had a quick race car this afternoon, pulling back lots of time through the second sector as the tyres degraded, but you could see the straight line speed of our competitors – even with the DRS and the tow, we didn’t really have enough of a speed delta to put them under pressure lap after lap.
“When you finish so close to P1, of course you look back at what you could have done better – perhaps the optimum stop lap for Lewis would have been one earlier, but it’s a lot easier to make that call with hindsight.”
Wolff says the whole weekend has been overshadowed by the loss of Anthoine Hubert in a horror crash during the FIA Formula 2 feature race on Saturday, and he says the Frenchman will always be remembered. With Leclerc a good pal of Hubert, Wolff said it was perhaps fated that the Monegasque racer was going to triumph in Belgium to honour his late friend.
“Of course, the big picture this weekend is a different one – a talented young man lost his life yesterday and that has overshadowed everything,” reflected Wolff.
“We must continue to remember him and hold Anthoine’s memory high – today was Charles’ well-deserved maiden F1 victory, and they were close friends, so everything happens for a reason.”