Toto talks securing the double, post-race emotions and tough competition
We've done it! We've won the 2018 Formula One World Constructors' Championship! Victory for Lewis and a P5 finish for Valtteri at Interlagos were enough to clinch the title for the fifth time in a row.
"Lewis sounded very emotional because this Constructors' Championship meant so much to him," said Toto after the race. "When I had a conversation with him on the Sunday night after Mexico, neither of us felt happy. Here's a man who has just won his fifth Drivers' Championship and yet isn't satisfied because, without wanting to sound lacking in humility, our objective is to win both championships, also for the team. That's why, understanding the race situation, he was emotional; he wanted to finish this on a high and win the Constructors' Championship in Brazil."
But the route to a tenth win of the season was anything but easy. In Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, Lewis was up against a tough opponent: "Lewis understood that Max was not the enemy today. It was about trying to beat the Ferraris, and when Max appeared like a missile behind him, it was clear that he wasn't going to fight him unnecessarily and lose race time by trying to make it to the end on the medium tyre."
Following the collision between Max and Esteban Ocon, however, Lewis took the lead again and brought the car home in P1. "Without him we wouldn't have won five championships," stressed Toto. "He's an exceptional driver and an unbelievable personality and therefore he has been an integral part of the team. There are many other exceptional people who have contributed to the success, but clearly it wouldn't have happened without him, and it wouldn't have happened without others either."
With this fifth consecutive World Championship double, the team has drawn level with Ferrari's record - set between 2000 and 2004.
It was by no means easy: "It was our most difficult championship to date, and that's why the relief now is the most I've ever felt. We had such a horrible race today, and yet we got the perfect end result with Lewis winning and us winning the Constructors' Championship, but I can tell you, mid-race we had information to suggest an imminent Power Unit failure on Lewis's car. But the guys in the background and the HPP guys fixed it."
As throughout the whole season, the success was a team effort - and that was precisely what made the difference: "This year, I think you could see there were phases where we seemed to have the upper hand, but then it was Ferrari again, and then towards the end, Red Bull joined the club. Every time you guys said 'Well this is a home run now and you've clearly found the silver bullet', the next race proved to be very difficult."
"We said you need to be cautious because this has gone both ways throughout the season, and this is why this Championship feels best, because we had a hell of a fight on our hands throughout the season with Ferrari, a fantastic team and an amazing brand. Being able to win a fifth consecutive Championship is something we wouldn't have dreamt of six years ago. In our wildest dreams, that wouldn't have come to my mind. Equalling a Ferrari record that seemed unachievable is something that makes me feel so grateful and fortunate to be in this team."
Alongside Lewis, Valtteri played a crucial role in securing the team' fifth consecutive World Championship double: "Valtteri's contribution was enormous. Until the Baku incident where he lost 25 points, he was properly in the fight for the Championship. Since then, it has gone against him, yet he's kept his dignity and played a big role in supporting the team without losing his stature as a racing driver, and as a racing driver that can win. He will come back strong next year and will give Lewis and all the others a run for their money."
In the 2019 season, Valtteri, Lewis and the team expect a lot of new challenges arising from new rules, changes to the driver line-ups and at least two formidable opponents in Ferrari and Red Bull. If Lewis claims a sixth title, he will come closer to matching Michael Schumacher's record.
"I think it's always about setting the right objectives," said Toto. "You have to develop a blueprint of what you want to achieve and then push hard. Then the records become an interesting objective. He's won five Drivers' titles now, and he's second with Fangio, which is amazing."
"He got a trophy yesterday from the Fangio museum; for him, hearing his name mentioned in the same sentence as Juan Manuel Fangio is unbelievable. Yes, he will be setting his sights on the next title, but before the seventh there is a sixth, and I can assure you this will be very difficult and complicated next year."