Wolff: Mexican GP victory showed Mercedes' strength in depth
The Mexican Grand Prix was not a race Mercedes were expecting to win, particularly after being outpaced by Ferrari and Red Bull in qualifying. Lewis Hamilton also faced racing without long-term Race Engineer Pete Bonnington in his ear. But together they emerged victorious in Mexico City – and that showed their mettle, according to Team Principal Toto Wolff…
Red Bull had triumphed in each of the last two years in Mexico, courtesy of Max Verstappen – and they promptly showed their prowess around the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez as Verstappen took pole, which became fourth for ignoring yellow flags.
Ferrari then inherited the front row, with Charles Leclerc on pole and Sebastian Vettel second. But through an impressive strategy, which saw Hamilton run a long final stint on the hard tyre, and strong communication between himself and Marcus Dudley, who stepped in for Bonnington, Mercedes and Hamilton seized victory.
“[Dudley did a] phenomenal job,” said Wolff. “It was not easy. But it shows that we have a strength, a deep strength in the team, and Bono stepping to the side for one race and handing over the baton. Marcus did a really good job together with Dom [Riefstahl], his data engineer [who usually heads up Mercedes’ race support team at the factory].”
Ferrari have had the edge in qualifying of late, taking pole in each of the last six races. But they haven’t been able to consistently convert that pace into race results come Sunday, with Mexico the latest example of that trend.
“The pure raw pace, they [Ferrari] have the quickest package at the moment, but Sundays don’t seem to come together for them,” added Wolff. “We like it. And we are hungry to continue as we’ve done. Maybe getting these occasional slaps in qualifying helps us to improve.
“It is a great reward for the team to still be able to put together a team performance that put us in a position to be able to win the race on Sunday when it matters,” he said. “But it still doesn’t feel great when you know you are not able to qualify in the front.”
Hamilton’s triumph in Mexico was Mercedes’ 13th from 18 races this season. With the constructors’ championship already done and dusted, it’s just a matter of whether Hamilton or Valtteri Bottas will secure the drivers' title and confirm their sixth successive double.
With Hamilton only needing an eighth-place finish in Austin, it looks like a sixth world crown isn’t far away…