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Toto Wolff Q&A: Rosberg proved his mental strength

10 May 2015

Nico Rosberg came into Spain under severe pressure to break Lewis Hamilton's dominance in 2015. He left elated, a flawless victory the perfect riposte to those who suggested he was mentally shot. As Mercedes-Benz head of motorsport Toto Wolff says, it was a triumph that will lift the entire team – as well as reigniting his rivalry with his team mate...

Q: Toto, Niki Lauda said that today was a crucial win for Nico (Rosberg) – that he actually had to win here to stay in the picture...

Toto Wolff: Both our drivers are very headstrong so whatever happens – a bad weekend or a big defeat – they come out strong again. After the debrief is over they concentrate on the next race, so you could say that to have a short term memory helps (laughs). Remember last season it was a similar situation when Nico had a run. Two drivers who try to outperform each other – that is a dream situation for a team if you handle the rivalry in the right way. It lifts the performance of the whole team; it's actually the best-case scenario!

Q: What was the difference between the two this weekend?

TW: Difficult to say. If you are on such a level every little bit matters. In the end it's probably all about feeling comfortable in the car, on the track and so on. Before the weekend Lewis mentioned that this track was not his favourite, so I don't know if that was the reason why he came in second. It is true it was a difficult weekend to get it right set-up wise, with the gusty winds and the lack of grip from session to session. And it gives you a big advantage on this track to control the pace from the front – probably that all added to Lewis not feeling so comfortable. For Nico the weekend simply went better, even though he also had his issues.

Q: What happened with Lewis at the first pit stop?

TW: Yes, that pit stop obviously compromised Lewis's race a lot. We have to analyse what went wrong. My guess is that it was a problem on the wheel gun, but don't take that as the final word!

Q: The gap to Ferrari suggests that this could be the pattern of the season – that Mercedes one-two victories could become standard procedure. Is that so?

TW: We are always sceptical if something sounds too good to be true. These ‘gaps' can turn against you pretty fast if you don't stay on your toes. In the last couple of weeks we have not looked left or right: we only concentrated on our performance and bringing the necessary updates to the car, and I have to say some really impressive jobs have been done on the engine side and on the chassis side. But I am far from getting carried away by over-optimism believing that it will continue this way forever. It is easy to be caught out - we've seen that in Malaysia! There is no such thing as a silver bullet that makes a car paramount over all the others for a long period. Take this weekend: a number of cars have been almost equally fast in sector one and two, but we managed to have a really strong car in sector three, the crucial sector of the track.

Q: Was optimising the tyres a key element today?

TW: You always have to have a firm eye on the tyres and I must say that we've learned a lot in Malaysia where we let things slip out of our hands a bit. So yes, we've spent a lot of time assessing how our car sits best with a particular tyre.

Q: Is it going in the right direction?

TW: Yes, that is my feeling.

Q: Lewis had a miserable start. What happened to him? A poor start is very unusual for him...

TW: To start with, the side he started from was not the best. But here if you are stuck behind a car it becomes very difficult. For what happened exactly we will have to look at the data in the next days. But if you look, Lewis's race without all these little glitches was fantastic so I would say the result should actually read: P1 and P1. If you are on a three-stop strategy with a compromised start, with a compromised pit-stop and then finishing in P2 – that is really a fantastic drive from Lewis. Both of them delivered a faultless race, and that is good news for us – that even when things don't go so well with one car we are still able to finish one-two!