Heading into the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix this weekend for the second race in a row at Silverstone, Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team’s team principal Toto Wolff is hoping to avoid the tyre problems that struck the team in the British Grand Prix.
Last weekend, both Lewis Hamilton and Valterri Bottas reported serious blistering on their right front tyres late in the race, which ended in punctures.
Hamilton was able to nurse his car back to win the race when his tyre went down on the last lap of the race, but Bottas was less fortunate as his tyre went down two laps earlier and led to him finishing in 11th place, outside of the points.
Wolff said that even after a nearly perfect race, last weekend showed that not even the most dominant team on the grid is invincible.
“The first Silverstone race was bitter-sweet,” Wolff conceded.
“We had a good Sunday for 49 laps, then it turned upside down with just a few minutes to go. Valtteri was very unlucky, having to complete an entire lap on a punctured tyre which ultimately put him out of the points.
“Lewis was more fortunate and managed to get his car over the line just in time on three wheels. But the reality is that we lost 18 points with Valtteri and that we could have easily dropped out of the points with both cars.
“We’ve said all along that reliability issues can be particularly costly in this shorter season and last weekend was painful proof of that. It was also a good reminder that a strong car by no means guarantees a strong result.
“It has always been our mindset to remain skeptical, to plan for the worst, knowing that there is no such thing as smooth sailing in our sport. We push complex machines to their limits every weekend and it would be foolish to assume that things will always go our way.”
The 70th Anniversary Grand Prix weekend is expected to be hotter than last weekend and Pirelli is bringing softer tyre compounds for this race. Wolff believes that these factors will bring about a challenging race on a very special weekend.
“The upcoming weekend at Silverstone will be a real challenge with higher temperatures and softer compounds,” he said.
“The hotter conditions brought the field closer together last week and the softer tyres will mean more pit stops and more variability with strategy, so we can expect a good fight.
“This second race in Silverstone is also the 70th anniversary celebration of the F1 World Championship. It’s great to think of all the brilliant stories of failure and success, of close wins and hard fights this sport has written in past decades – we are proud to have made our contribution to that story, and look forward to many great stories still to come.”