After the Tuscany Grand Prix, Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-AMG, answered several questions about tactics, as well as rumors about the future prospects of the champion team.
Q: During the race, we heard that Valtteri Bottas, before the second pit stop, asked the team on the radio to put him tires not the same as Lewis Hamilton will receive. Mercedes has used similar tactics in the past, but did you have any plans to do so today?
Toto Wolff: Yes, we discussed this, because Valtteri wanted to get freedom of tactical maneuver due to this, but then everything went head over heels – I don’t remember on which lap he drove into the pits. In general, after that all plans had to be changed.
Q: An article appeared in the Daily Mail today with quotes from Eddie Jordan – of course you are aware of this. Can you somehow comment on his suggestion about the impending sale of the Mercedes team to the Ineos concern? And is it true that a contract for the sale of 10% of the team’s shares has already been signed?
Toto Wolff: You see, people grab onto some scattered information and write stories on its basis. We have an excellent relationship with Ineos, we are working together on a number of high-tech projects, including the America’s Cup yacht team and the cycling team. This cooperation is mutually beneficial, we and our teams have the same goals – that is why we are partners. And the rest is nothing more than speculation.
Daimler has no intention of selling the team, and Ineos is not going to acquire a controlling stake in the team and change its name. I also have no reason to give up my share in the team, so this is all fiction.
Question: A question to continue this topic. There is still no clarity about your and Lewis’ prospects – is this delay connected with the fact that there is no certainty with the team either? Or does its future seem quite clear, even if Ineos continues to invest in the team?
Toto Wolff: I will use your wording: with the future of the team there is complete clarity, it will remain Mercedes-AMG Petronas, and no changes are expected here. As for Lewis, we simply do not have time to discuss everything, because three series of three races in a row followed one after the other, but now we need to somehow get together and talk.
Question: Explain what happened to the tires there when the team informed Valtteri by radio about the problem with the front right tire, and that it was necessary to make a pit stop. Then Lewis was called into the pits, although he was ready to stay on the track, but he was still persuaded to go to replace the rubber for safety reasons. Can you tell us what plan you followed? And closer to the finish line, when your racers were exchanging fast laps, did you want to ask them to slow down a little for safety reasons? You were probably a little nervous …
Toto Wolff: Valtteri had completely worn out tires, because of this, vibrations began, and we made a pit stop as a precaution. But he was in a very different situation from Lance Stroll (who had an accident, probably due to a puncture), who flew off the track when there was a lot of debris on the asphalt, and Pirelli has yet to find out what happened there. But this could well have been the result of numerous accidents.
Was I nervous at the end of the race? Not. With a few laps before the finish, it was clear that we should give Lewis and Valtteri the opportunity to compete with each other, as well as compete for the best lap. Both understood that they must act with caution, try not to attack the curbs, and they acted that way. So there were no worries.
Question Lewis is one step closer to repeating Michael Schumacher’s record for the number of victories won. Are you planning to celebrate this somehow? Maybe you cook something special for Lewis?
Toto Wolff: No, because we believe in karma, and it is necessary that events develop in their own way. And in general, could you imagine that someone would be able to break the record equal to 91 victories? But if this happens, I have no doubt that we can come up with something interesting.