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Toto Wolff: “Both drivers showed their emotions today”

Toto Wolff: “Both drivers showed their emotions today”

How was the debrief Toto?

TW: Interesting. It was a good debrief because it was a positive debrief. There wasn't any animosity. There was much more positive today. We didn't do any mistakes in the race. Generally everybody is in good spirits.

Was it good from Nico to complain? Was it good from Lewis to slow down?

TW: It was good for Nico to complain and it was good for Lewis to slow down. Lewis was the car in the lead. He was in control of the pace. Our expected race would have been Option/Prime/Prime. We have learned our lessons from Malaysia and thought we might run into trouble again. But then we found out that the Option was much better than expected and we wanted to cover Ferrari with the Option. So we put the Option on for stint two. The driver realises he has the Option on but he doesn't know what's going on behind him so he controls his pace. Lewis was controlling that pace. From his point of view that's completely understandable. Nico on the other hand was really running into trouble because he was bunched up behind Lewis and couldn't go anymore near. So he asked for a two second gap to Lewis to protect the tyres a little bit. In the same time Sebastian was increasing the pace behind him.

Do you understand why the average fan might be baffled by the second driver complaining that the first driver is going too slow?

TW: The emotional factor is important, I think. I can see it from both perspectives. You're unable to overtake. The moment you get close, you totally lose tyre performance. Nico was really trapped in this situation.

And that was when the situation got a little bit tense...

TW: There wasn't any action from Lewis to slow Nico down in order to make him finish third or worse. 100%. He didn't know the gaps behind Nico. What he knew was that he needed to take that tyre longer than we have had ever run it the whole weekend. That's why he decided to slow down in the way he did. Now of course after a while the team realised that this was putting Nico into trouble and risking the second place. If Lewis has a DNF he could potentially lose the race for Mercedes. There were lots of thoughts on the pit wall about the possible consequences and he didn't know that. When we came on the radio it was the moment we needed to act. Then he increased the pace and as a remedy we pitted Nico first what we normally wouldn't have done.

  • 2015 China Sunday Lewis Hamilton

    2015 China Sunday Lewis Hamilton

If Ferrari up their pace and we get to a situation where you have to apply team orders, how are you going to do that? Are you going to risk it and finish third?

TW: Our main objective is to be number one. This is what we decided. We have a big responsibility to the team and a big brand. It is not just the two guys out there but about a thousand people working on these cars. If it ever comes to a point of interfering between the two of them because we risk to lose a race win we would do that. We do not have the gap any more from last year where we can just let them push each other until the very end. We need to manage the gaps between the two of them. It could have come to a point on Sunday where we could have been very firm on the radio saying this is what needs to be done in order not to risk the race result. It could come to a situation where we risk losing the win to a Ferrari when we might have to do an unpopular call and manage them more.

Could you have done something to prevent this in advance? Better explanation on the team radio, for example?

TW: You can't stop drivers getting worked up. If we require our two drivers to conduct themselves in a 'super-corporate' manner and to say nothing, then we would be criticised for that, and rightly so. It's quite understandable that tempers run high. Sometimes it's one of them, sometimes the other. We just have to accept that. It's understandable that Nico isn't happy with the situation. But it's also understandable why Lewis played it the way he did it. We don't want to eradicate all the emotions they feel as racers. Both of them showed their emotions today.

To what extent will today's outcome alter your approach in Bahrain?

TW: In no way at all. What pleases me is that as a team we have bounced back. We've solved the problem of making the tyre last longer. We tackled the problem from different angles - aerodynamic, mechanical and the behaviour of the power unit. That worked. So in this respect, we are well prepared.

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