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Hungary... by the Wolff

NEWS STORY
30/07/2014

Much as he enjoyed the Hungaroring thriller, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits that the race left his team feeling "numb"

"Feelings are still very mixed," he admitted in an interview for the team's website. "When the chequered flag fell, we were numb to have finished third and fourth at a race where we had started with one car on pole and one in the pit-lane. Honestly, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

"With Nico, it was a case of “what might have been.”," he admitted. "What might have been if he hadn't been caught behind the first Safety Car? What if the brakes hadn't overheated during those laps, which then led to a temporary brake by wire failure which cost him positions when racing resumed? And what if he had been able to pass Lewis before the end of his third stint? He clearly had the pace in the car but things did not go his way."

As for Lewis...

"Putting aside his spin on the first lap, he put in one of the drives of the season - he came from dead last and, at one point, it looked like he could even win the race. He undoubtedly pulled off the overtake of the day, when he ‘monstered' round Vergne into Turn Four; it was a killer instinct move. And that is what the fans want to see.

"It was nerve-wracking," he said of the race, as viewed from the pit-wall. "With each car, there was a point when we didn't think they could finish. For Nico, it was behind the first Safety Car when it looked like the brake system had failed. With Lewis, it happened when he started losing fuel pressure - and power - as he was running behind Fernando, with Nico closing in. At that point of the race, we were hoping he could make it to the finish - but we certainly expected the problem would be terminal."

When asked about the controversial call to Hamilton to let teammate Rosberg through, Wolff said: "When the Safety Car came out, we chose to split the strategies, and offset
ourselves to the cars ahead, in order to create opportunities to win, or worst case finish on the podium.

"When we did so, Nico was running two positions in front of Lewis. We put Nico onto an aggressive three-stopper and Lewis onto a two-stop, with a long final stint on the prime tyre. That meant they would find each other on track at some point - and we would have a situation to manage. Lewis was asked to let Nico pass because we believed they both still had a chance to win the race as the strategies played out. But Nico never got close enough to Lewis to make the move - and we were ultimately comfortable with the decision Lewis made to hold position.

"As a racing team, our mission is to win championships and to win races. We thought both of our drivers had a chance to fight for the race win - not just for a podium finish - so we acted accordingly. When it comes to drivers in the same team running alternative strategies, it is usual for them not to make life hard for each other when it comes to overtaking. But we must appreciate that we are not in a usual situation any more.

"At the start of the season, Paddy and I agreed a clear policy with the drivers that they are free to race for the win - as long as they are fighting for it. Equally, we have been clear that our priority as a team is always to give ourselves the best chance of winning the race - no matter which driver is fighting for it. The calls Paddy and the team on the pit wall made on Sunday were completely in line with our policy. And so, our drivers will continue to be free to race for the remainder of the 2014 championship; and they will be racing to win.

"However, we should also be clear-sighted about the situation: this debate about team orders is obscuring our real problem at the moment, which is reliability. If we give the drivers the opportunity to use the full potential of the car on every lap, then we have the performance to race at the front of the field - and they will be free to race for the win without external factors playing a role. We haven't done that recently and that has given us some headaches. But those problems can be avoided if we do a better job."

Asked if he felt 'team spirit; was damaged on Sunday, he said: "No. This is an intense title fight and we will have tense moments that we need to work through. But this is also when a team shows its true colours. Look at last weekend: one of our cars came back to the garage as a charred wreck after qualifying. Ten hours later, we had a complete race car for Lewis - because every mechanic from both car crews had worked to get it ready and make sure the team could perform to its maximum on Sunday afternoon.

"From time to time, we have to take a step back and see what we have achieved this year. Nine wins in 11 races, and ten pole positions, is an incredible record - and we have set the target of performing even better after the summer break because this championship is far from over. But when we look at what has been accomplished so far in 2014, every member of the team can go into the summer break walking a little bit taller than we did back in March. They have done a sensational job.

Finally, asked if the team has identified the cause of Hamilton's fuel leak on Saturday, the Austrian said: "The car suffered significant fire damage on Saturday and the components had to be sent back to the UK for thorough analysis. The leak has now been traced to a localised fatigue failure in a high-pressure fuel hose, although the precise causes of this fatigue are still being determined. Extensive checks and appropriate countermeasures are now being conducted to ensure there can be no repeat."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by f1fan, 02/08/2014 0:15

"Let Lewis and Nico race for the championship fair and square. Provide both with equally reliable cars and no team orders to let one pass the other. Abolish the ridiculous "double" points system."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Martin B, 31/07/2014 2:54

"To Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda, I thoroughly admire your attitude and long may it continue. If only some other teams followed your policy!!!"

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3. Posted by MrShadow, 30/07/2014 19:00

"Somehow I feel that if the situation is the other way around in the next race, the comments would be quite different."

Rating: Negative (-2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

4. Posted by miss d'it, 30/07/2014 15:37

"Totally agree with 'jet jockey'

Whoever made the decision to ask for the pass, never thought of the negativaty that they then faced from the commentators, media, driver and fans. Hopefully they will learn, time will tell. And, how refreshing to have a senior manager admit faults, and not say the usual claptrap of 'lessons must be learned/not let this happen again'

As i have said elsewhere, let them race, but fairly, without bias, and being sensible, then we will see a return to the thrilling spectacle that was Bahrain. Now that is what F1 should be."

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5. Posted by Jet Jockey, 30/07/2014 14:08

"Mr. Wolff...

I'm going to say four things;

- Glad to see you came to your senses and agree (as Niki Lauda did) that Lewis did the right thing because "your" order to let Nico pass to Lewis pissed off the majority of your racing fans and F1 fans around the world. Since Mercedes is almost guaranteed the "Constructor’s Championship" there should be no more orders to let either driver pass the other from pit wall... Let them race to fight the "driver's Championship from" Spa on (hopefully you will give Lewis a reliable car and perform good pit stops for him).

- Why was Lewis changed over to a medium compound tire on his second pitstop? With the track running at least 20 degrees cooler it was not the right tire for the job that afternoon. With soft compound tires I’m sure he could have overtaken Alonso’s Ferrari and possibly hold off Ricciardo too.

- Since both Nico and Lewis came together at one point on the track towards the end of the race, why wasn’t Lewis also brought into the pits for another tire change this time with soft compound tires to be used for his last stint out (he had new tires left over because of the fire). If Nico was able to catch up to the leading group at a rate of 3 seconds a lap after his tire change, so would have Lewis and because Lewis is a better driver/passer he would have probably won the race and Nico could have been in second place, that is if he would have managed to pass Alonso and Ricciardo.

- Of course the last part is all speculation as was the order to Lewis to let Nico pass was going to give Nico the win… NO MORE ORDERS PLEASE!
"

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