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Toto Wolff Q&A: Constructors' title means so much to Mercedes

12 Oct 2014

For much of the season it has been a question of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ Mercedes would wrap up their first constructors’ title, and on Sunday in Sochi they finally did just that by way of their ninth one-two finish of the season. After the race, Mercedes’ head of motorsport Toto Wolff spoke of his delight at the team’s success and explained why he expects the battle for the drivers’ championship to run and run…

Q: Toto, Lewis (Hamilton) now leads the drivers’ championship by 17 points - is he edging towards the title?

Toto Wolff: The title fight is still wide open because there are 50 points (available) in the last race. But of course we’ve made a huge leap forward to also win the drivers’ title. But my guess is that between Lewis and Nico (Rosberg) the fight will go down to the wire. I have no illusions about that. Just take today: the (first) corner was actually Nico’s corner had he not missed the braking point and ruined his tyres. But that’s how fast it can go.

Q: When Nico had to pit for new tyres at the end of lap one, what did you think would still be possible for him?

TW: Definitely not finishing on the podium in P2! We knew that it would get critical in terms of making the tyres last until the end. Twenty laps before the chequered flag our experts said that it will not work - but we’ve tried and it did work.

Q: Around twenty laps before the race finished Nico did some really fastest laps. Was that the moment when you were pondering calling him in?

TW: It was a bit of a funny discussion that we had on the pit wall: our expert said to call him in and I said ‘let him race!’ And it worked. This new track and its special tarmac made it possible. Pretty much towards the end the tyres reached a ‘sweet spot’ and built up grip. That was the reason why it worked.

Q: Was Pirelli’s tyre selection a bit on the conservative side for this race?

TW: Probably yes, but we all didn’t know what to expect here so it was better being more on the conservative side.

Q: Have you been surprised again by Mercedes’ dominance? Nico was able to move through the field like a hot knife through butter to bag P2 and Lewis didn’t have the need to push to the limit…

TW: Lewis managed the race perfectly and Nico showed a champion-worthy performance. The wrong braking at the beginning cost him the win - you clearly have to say that - but then to see how he moved through the field - that was coldblooded! That was real damage limitation for his claim to the title.

Q: Is winning the constructors’ title in a year when there have been such massive rule changes even more precious?

TW: It is worth so much! That we’ve prepared so meticulously - that is really fantastic. All the people that have contributed to this moment: Ross (Brawn), Michael (Schumacher) - all the many faces that come up in my mind - it’s also their title. This title means so much effort, so much hard work - that maybe is not always visible at a race venue. It is such a rewarding moment.

Q: Has Stuttgart called? Has the investment paid off by winning this title?

TW: Yes, Stuttgart has called and congratulated! To be part of Formula One is a coldly calculated investment - and by winning this title it paid off. Mercedes is the best racecar constructor in the world - we are closing the circle to 50 years ago. That is immensely rewarding.

Q: The Mercedes power unit has dominated the season - will you be able to carry that into 2015?

TW: Well, I think the others will catch-up. We have no illusions about that…

Q: …but didn’t you already predict that at the beginning of this year, that others will catch up from midseason, but they didn’t. Are you surprised about that?

TW: We are pushing so hard! We have inhaled a mentality to celebrate our victories - but on Monday back in the factory we work as if the podium had not happened. And that’s the same through all our departments! Very recently I was read an interesting saying: ‘the guy on the top of the mountain didn’t fall there.’ It is hard work and full concentration to the very detail.

Q: Now the constructors’ title is yours, can the season get any better?

TW: Bagging the drivers’ title? Hopefully in three sizzling races!