RACE DEBRIEF

    With Mercedes just one point ahead of Red Bull and Lewis Hamilton 19 points behind Max Verstappen in the standings, their Team Principal Toto Wolff has given his thoughts on the weekend of “damage limitation” in Mexico – and why the Silver Arrows are “privileged” heading to the Sao Paulo Grand Prix…

    The Mexico City Grand Prix saw Valtteri Bottas take pole and Hamilton cement a front-row lockout for Sunday but Verstappen swept around the outside of the pair and went on to take a comfortable win. This weekend, Interlagos is expected by many to be another track that favours Red Bull’s car but there’s a twist in the tale given the third F1 Sprint of 2021 takes place on Saturday.

    READ MORE: Another Red Bull stronghold, return of the Sprint and more – 5 key storylines ahead of the Sao Paulo GP

    “Reflecting on the last race in Mexico, it was definitely a weekend of damage limitation for us. Given the track characteristics, we knew it would be a challenging weekend for us and that proved to be the case on Sunday,” began Wolff before previewing the second race of this triple-header.

    “The best thing about a triple-header is you don't have to wait long for a new opportunity to get the positive momentum back,” he added. “We're excited to be returning to Brazil, the fans are so passionate and Interlagos is such an iconic circuit. It's not been our strongest track in recent seasons and has tended to suit Red Bull more, but this year has proved anything can happen. It's the last Sprint weekend, too, which opens up more opportunity.

    “We'll be throwing everything we've got at the Brazilian Grand Prix and the races beyond. We're privileged to still be in the fight so late in the season and expect these titles to go right down to the wire, with both teams fighting hard to the very last lap.”

    WATCH: Maiden podiums, an all-Ferrari crash and a brilliant Verstappen win – relive the thrilling 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix

    1236423043
    Bottas dropped down the order in Mexico after being spun by Ricciardo into Turn 1; Hamilton finished second

    As for the race in Mexico City, Wolff admitted that the win was “never in our grasp” – but praised Hamilton’s drive to P2 ahead of Sergio Perez, adding that the Briton's team mate Bottas would be driven to bounce back in Brazil.

    “The win was never in our grasp, but Lewis gave all he had to hang onto that second place, in a car that should probably have finished third. It was a strong defensive drive from him, securing valuable points for both championships.

    “For Valtteri, his pole lap on Saturday was spectacular, which made Sunday's result all the more painful after he was hit at Turn 1. That meant it was a very difficult afternoon for him, but we know that'll only make him more determined to come back fighting next time out,” said the Mercedes chief.

    BEYOND THE GRID: 'It starts to eat you from inside' – Valtteri Bottas on pressure and pride at Mercedes