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Toto Wolff Q&A: Montreal proved we're no idiots

07 Jun 2015

Mercedes came in for a storm of criticism following their bungled strategy in Monaco - but one race later they dominated in Canada, managing Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg's races to perfection even while encouraging the duo to go head-to-head in the fight for victory. As Mercedes-Benz's head of motorsport Toto Wolff explains, walking the fine tightrope in Canada was the perfect riposte to events a fortnight ago...

Q: Toto, you looked tense in certain moments of the race and you and Niki Lauda were in discussions. Was there ever a situation where you were worried?

Toto Wolff: It is a circuit that is very intense on the brakes so it is always a balance, or a fine line, to get it right. We didn't want to interfere – we wanted them to fight it out on the track – but on the other hand we have to make sure that the car survives. At a certain stage of the race we had more than a thirty-second gap to Bottas but had high temperatures in the brakes of one car and were marginal on fuel with the other, so we discussed how to keep the key parameters under control. That was a bit of a tense situation, but in no way more tense than at other races this season. 

Q: Were there any concerns about the ERS temperature – something that you suffered from here last year?

TW: No, ERS was no issue today.

Q: Were you surprised that Ferrari was not quicker in race trim? The predictions were that they would challenge you in the race after their good Friday performance...

TW: I think we must not underestimate the upgrade that they've brought. Yes, we have seen very strong pace from them on Friday, so my guess is that maybe these new parts haven't made it to the mapping they would have wanted to run. My assumption without really knowing it is that we haven't seen the best of Ferrari today. Sebastian (Vettel) had a very difficult Saturday, starting the race at the back, having an incident with [Nico] Hulkenberg and running into backmarker traffic. And Kimi spun – and that doesn't make a two-stop strategy work. My prediction is that they will bounce back in Austria. 

Q: What happened to Nico's race? At some stage it looked as if he would be able to attack Lewis, but he fell away at the end.

TW: Brakes were always an issue. We wanted to help to manage the brakes so that the two of them could race each other 10 laps from the end. But when he started to push towards the end of the race, we saw that he missed the braking once – and he probably realised that unless Lewis makes a mistake it's not going to work for him in the last couple of laps.

Q: There were issues with Nico's brakes and Lewis' fuel situation. Which problem was more difficult to manage? 

TW: Nico's brakes were in danger after the first third of the race. They had very high temperatures and we passed on a very clear message to look after them. In that stage of the race the brakes were a much bigger problem than the fuel. We know that Montreal is always very tough on the brakes as there is a certain limit of what you can put in a 13 inch rim in terms of brake material. That's what makes Montreal so difficult.

Q: Do you feel that the race result restored the balance of the team after the Monaco incident?

TW: I must say that after Monaco it was very difficult for the team to handle that situation after the massive media hype. We were exposed to massive criticism. It looked as if all the previous race wins and both title wins of 2014 were suddenly forgotten and a bunch of idiots were managing the team. Today's result makes that all a thing of the past.

Q: In the past we’ve seen some spectacular and sometimes crazy races here, but today seemed to be more about brake temperatures and fuel loads...

TW: I don't think that this is true. There are race tracks that are for example difficult on brakes – and Montreal is one of them. And if you are on a one stop strategy you better have a firm eye on your fuel – that is race strategy. 

Q: Will you run the same brakes on Austria?

TW: I think so, but I am not sure.