Ferrari presented Mercedes a double victory in Sochi: First team-order confusion, then engine breakdown and to top-it-off – an unnecessary stop. Toto Wolff was more than happy.
Mercedes can rely on Sochi: Mercedes remains unbeaten at the sixth race in Russia. Mercedes sports director Toto Wolff looked relieved after the finish line and the double victory of his team:
“We are doing really well, first and second place, the main challenger, a really big step in both championships,” summarized Wolff.
“Given the difficult situation we are in, this is probably one of the best wins ever.”
This was all possible thanks to a safety car incident and the chaos at Ferrari’s command stand. The lack of team cohesion at the Scuderia was already identified by Wolff as Mercedes’ biggest opportunity in the fight against the emerging competition from Maranello ma- in Sochi, he was more than right.
“We can understand that, of course,” Wolff remembered their own squabbles within the team between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
As for Ferrari, he said:
“They are now learning by doing.” To manage two alpha animals, however, is “not a completely trivial” task according to Wolff.
“Of course, the safety car was one of our few hopes, so we stayed out long, and the fact that Ferrari set it up makes it even more bizarre.”
But to bring in Leclerc for a second time to stop on soft tires, Wolff couldn’t understand:
“We wouldn’t have done that. They probably trusted their engine to be fast enough on the straights, but it was not enough.”
Also, the team thanked Valtteri Bottas. Due to Ferrari’s second stop, Bottas was able to secure P2 ahead of Leclerc, and he defended his position like a champ for the rest of the race that ultimately took off pressure from Hamilton.
“Valtteri drove brilliantly and today had a big share in the victory. If Charles had come through, the success wouldn’t have been that easy,” Wolff emphasized.
Bottas is the only driver who has a chance of challenging Hamilton for his next championship title – at least on paper. That’s, another advantage if you have already learned what a clearly manage hierarchies within the team…
*This article was first published in German at autobild.de/motorsport.