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Toto Wolff Q&A: Ferrari form makes success all the sweeter

11 Oct 2015

With a second straight constructors' title to celebrate, and a driver seemingly headed for glory in the drivers' fight, there was a lot to cheer for Mercedes in Russia - but there was also disappointment as Nico Rosberg retired and slipped behind Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel in the championship. According to Toto Wolff, head of motorsport at Mercedes, that proves just how big a threat Ferrari will be next year - and gives them even more reason to celebrate now...

Q: Toto, today Mercedes clinched the constructors' title for the second time in a row, but obviously that wasn't confirmed until the stewards decided to penalise Kimi Raikkonen...

Toto Wolff: Yes, we had already packed the championship T-shirts into their boxes to ship them back home! (laughs)  Now of course we are super happy about being forced to take them out - we wear them with great pride. It is a fantastic achievement for the team and all its employees in Brackley and Brixworth. Now the drivers' title is next on the agenda!  

Q: The whole weekend you had a good gap to Ferrari - but now Vettel is second in the drivers' standings and Ferrari has an engine update to come. How much are you looking over your shoulder?

TW: It is great for the sport to have serious competition - and it pushes us as Ferrari is the team you want to be battling with. We are expecting them to be very strong next year, as they have shown great performance earlier than expected. Towards the end of today's race you could see that Sebastian (Vettel) still had good pace, so yes, it will be exciting in the future.

Q: There was a fear from Mercedes' side that this race could turn out to be a déjà vu of the Singapore race. But if you look at the lap times Lewis was in a league of his own in the middle of the race, lapping 1.5 seconds faster than anybody else. In your wildest dreams, was that something you expected?

TW: For sure the supersoft tyre was a bit of a question mark after Singapore, and looking back to last year and the super-smooth tarmac here that caused us some problems, we didn't want to be caught out with the same issues - so we preferred to be a bit more on the sceptical side.

Q: If you recap this weekend, pace-wise it was clearly Nico's (Rosberg) weekend. And then it all went terribly wrong for him. Can you explain what happened to his car?

TW: Nico was very unfortunate as indeed it was his weekend up until the race. A spring broke that controls the movement of the gas [throttle] pedal. The gas pedal moved permanently upwards - it was coming constantly closer towards him - and at one point the spring simply broke and liquid leaked out. That was the end of his race. It is sad because it was a 'penny worth' part that cost him a possible win. When you look overall at both drivers' performances, they are still very close so it was sad to see Nico drop out.

Q: You were spotted 'conferring' with Max Verstappen's management - his father Jos and his manager - for quite some time here in Sochi. It is understood that Mercedes wanted to sign Max, but Red Bull snatched him before your very eyes..

TW: Ha, I've known 'crazy' Jos for so many years - so we just had a nice talk over coffee!

Q: Are you sure? If you were having a nice talk over coffee, why bring his manager?

TW: No, not sure! (laughs)