Toto Wolff on Russian Grand Prix: “It was a tough decision to make”
The Russian Grand Prix should have been a joy-filled day for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas team however it was bitter sweet due to ‘the call’ for Valtteri Bottas to let his team-mate past.
Following the race, the team-mates and drivers showed true sportsmanship with Lewis Hamilton giving the 1st place trophy to Valtteri Bottas and inviting him to stand on the podium – it was his weekend after all. This respect then continued in the media / press conference after the race with Lewis Hamilton saying “I didn’t want to win this way” along with mentioning that he asked the team over radio if Valtteri could simply speed up instead of taking first place for the win.
Since the race, an uproar has been seen by fans around the world who don’t agree with team orders – myself included HOWEVER, I do see logic behind both sides, even though I don’t agree.
A team doesn’t really care who wins the race – as long as it’s the best result for the team and in this case, with Lewis Hamilton winning, it’s a better result overall for both Championships (Constructors and Drivers). As fans, we all want to see battles, even between team-mates so as much as I might not agree with team orders, I can see the logic from a ‘business’ perspective.
Enough of me though – below, you can see what Toto Wolff had to say about ‘the call’ along with the reasoning…
Toto Wolff: “The race panned out differently to what we had expected – we spent a lot of time in the morning discussing various scenarios. The one that actually happened was slipstreaming each other, but then we got tangled up in the way we called the pitstops.
“We did the right thing by calling Valtteri in first, it would have protected his position, but we were one lap too late with Lewis.”
“I’ll take it on me, because I was engaging with James (Vowles) in a conversation when he should have made the call and this is why he came in a lap too late and lost position. Lewis then had to fight hard to overtake Sebastian, which was an awesome move, but blistered his tyres and then we were in a situation where Valtteri was in front managing the tyres.”
“Lewis was behind with a blistered rear and Sebastian all over him and at that stage, there were two possible outcomes. The best case would have been it stayed like it is and we finish second with Lewis and win with Valtteri.”
“The worst case was that the blister wouldn’t last until the end and Lewis would have been overtaken by Sebastian, in order to manage his tyres.”
“This is why having Valtteri in between was the call we made – rationally, the right call to do, but our sporting heart says it was not.”
“As racers, it was a tough decision to make but when there are Championships at stake someone has to do it! I thought about it the whole hour, in the same way I thought about it in Budapest.”
“In Budapest, we said if we can’t make it past Raikkonen, then we’re going to swap back. I wanted to stand by my word even if it would cost us the position but that was Budapest, mid-season and now, we’re here in Sochi at nearly the end of the season.”
“I thought about it all the time, but you need to consider the Championship and if at the end five points or three points are missing – then you’re the biggest idiot on the planet for having prioritised Valtteri’s single race result over the Championship.”
“It’s about seven points up and down, and as much as it is difficult to make such a call, somebody has to do it – somebody needs to be the baddie and it’s me today.”
” You need to weigh it up – to be the baddie on Sunday evening for many right reasons or do I want to be the idiot in Abu Dhabi at end of the season? I’d rather be a baddie today than an idiot at the end of the year.”
Toto Wolff on Valtteri Bottas: “He’s such an intelligent guy and understands how the team dynamic goes and what we discussed this morning…if he were in Lewis’ situation, would he expect the team to work for him?”
“The answer is clearly, yes and the rationality gives you the answer so he understands that, but in his heart, in the same way in my heart and Lewis’ heart and all of our hearts – it just doesn’t feel right that he wouldn’t win the race because he was the guy in the lead.”
“We spent a lot of time discussing it and we do that every day, to try and be transparent within the team and even if it’s the inconvenient truth, we discuss it and say, ‘how do we want to face that?'”
“It has served us well over the last six years and we had a really difficult ride with Nico and Lewis and there are difficult moments like today, but then you need to make the call and you need to stand by it.”
There’s lots more on the way ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix so check back for all the latest!