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Wolff: Monza went exactly according to plan

NEWS STORY
10/09/2014

Having dominated for much of the weekend an electronic glitch saw Lewis Hamilton fail to capitalise on pole position, thereby allowing teammate Nico Rosberg to take the lead. However, the Briton was soon back in pursuit of the German who, courtesy of two uncharacteristic - and to some suspicious - mistakes, was to eventually cede the lead and victory.

"We had an electronic problem, which we had on the warm up lap and then on the start," says Wolff explaining Hamilton's muffed start. "We need to find out what it was exactly - but definitely something was wrong and he didn't have an optimum start. In the procedure there is a lot of clutch calibration and that was not perfect, so his start was not good."

Asked about Rosberg's brake problems, he added: "He tried to protect the rear brakes, so he went forward on the brake balance, hit the brakes hard and missed the braking point. There was no technical reason behind it."

At that precise moment, the TV camera appeared to catch Wolff smiling, suggesting he was pleased with the incident.

"You know what, it's really crazy," says the Austrian, "whoever picks that up and tries to interpret anything from such a picture must be out of his mind! First of all, it's not live. Whenever the camera pans to you, the signal comes later, so it wasn't synchronised with the picture. It feels like Big Brother is watching you - I will hide in the engineering office next time! There was a smile - I think it was when the two were closing up to each other and it was a smile to say ‘here we go again' for another close battle."

He is equally dismissive of claims that Rosberg deliberately fluffed the first chicane in order to gift the lead to his teammate.

"Only paranoid minds could come up with such an idea," says Wolff. "There was a lot of pressure on Nico as Lewis has been so quick on Saturday and we saw the same on Sunday as well."

Asked about Hamilton's decision to ignore his engineer's advice in terms of his tyres, again, Wolff is eager to put the record straight.

"Not all communications are broadcast. After the pit stops, the message was 'we should save the tyres on both cars, take it to the end and then let them fight at the end'. We changed that opinion because there was clearly an opportunity for the driver who was following to overtake at the beginning of the stint and at the end. So, we came back to the
drivers with the message that they were actually free to use whatever modes were available. It was exactly according to plan."

As for those two mistakes from Rosberg...

"It was not like many other races I've seen with Nico - you rarely see him make mistakes and he made two in one day at the same place. As I said before, he went forward on the balance and that is the moment where he locked up the first time. Then, one of the main messages to the drivers was “don't flat spot the tyres” because if they did that they
would need to pit. With a two stop strategy at Monza all would be lost, so this is why he didn't try everything to get round the corner - it was better to take the exit and avoid the flat spot."

And Hamilton...

"I've been impressed with Lewis since many races ago," says Wolff. "He's had some dreadful weekends - dreadful Saturdays and Sundays - but he has always come back with a smile at the next race. He is always in good spirits, in a good mood and I think that is something that is impressive in general.

"He made his way through the field and the way he overtook Massa, then pulled away from Nico once he had passed him was particularly impressive."

Asked how the Monza result might affect Rosberg psychologically, Wolff replies: "Mentally he is very strong and if you want to be a World Champion you have to go through lows and highs. Lewis has had many of them and came back. Nico had the same at Silverstone and also came back. So he has the mental strength to recover."

Might the mistakes at Monza indicate that Hamilton, already a championship winner, has the mental advantage?

"I wasn't with Lewis when he was battling for that championship," says Wolff. "But, you need extreme mental strength to make it to the end and win the Championship. I think both of them have that in them - to bounce back after bad weekends. Before the incident in Spa they were going back and forth, when one had a good week and the other one not, but neither of them ever really had a low afterwards."

And the boos that greeted Rosberg on the podium?

"I don't think there should be any booing on the podium," says the Austrian. "These are the top three guys who have had a mega race and, whoever it is, there should not be booing. This is sport - and sport should unite. But then, all of these guys have fans and some of them are pretty emotional. Does that take a toll on you? I think you have to be pretty tough not to even think about it. Maybe, though, it's something you have to survive if you want to make it to the very top.

"For me it's important that Mercedes wins," he concludes. "One-two finishes are even better. But I want to stay as neutral as possible - completely neutral."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Steve W, 11/09/2014 9:14

"I'm sure it did go exactly according to plan. Kind of funny way to put it, Toto.

Can't wait to see what the exact plan for Rosberg - uh, I mean Mercedes - is at Singapore..."

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