• IN WORDS: Valtteri Drove a Sensational Race - Toto

Toto debriefs a Hungarian Grand Prix weekend that had it all...

One of the big talking points post-race surrounded the team's stance on Valtteri's role in the end result - something Toto feels was taken out of context in the heat of the moment once the flag had dropped.

"That's exactly why things that are not being discussed directly face-to-face are being completely spun out of control in the wrong way," he commented.

"In today's race, starting P2, after lap one, Valtteri's race was the perfect win-manage race. And I don't mean it in Championship terms because we have no number one, we have no number two.

"It was just how he was racing. It was, from my standpoint, his best race so far with Mercedes in the last two years."

The closing laps of the race proved increasingly challenging for Valtteri, as he battled bravely to cling on to his second place - and his tyres - under immense pressure from the Ferrari pair behind. It was a heroic performance and one that didn't yield the result the Finn deserved.

"The bittersweet feeling that I have is that he would have deserved to finish P2 - where he started and where he was after lap one. He drove a sensational race.

"I don't know how much length the tyre was on but I guess it was around 50 - 54 [laps]. The tyres were completely shot.

"We were surprised how he managed to hold Sebastian and Kimi behind him for 25 or so laps and we knew the last five laps would be really critical.

"Sebastian made a good move into Turn 1 on the inside and there was no traction on Valtteri's car anymore. He stayed on the inside on the dirty line, braked late, there was also nowhere to go - complete normal racing incident. The second one the same."

It wasn't just Valtteri who had to nurse his tyres to the flag. While all may have appeared serene for Lewis out in front, he too drove a beautifully managed race to bring home a resounding win.

"Lewis drove a faultless, spectacular race as well. We thought about it [pitting under a late VSC] because Valtteri was defending so well. We had more than 20s gap, we would have had VSC and Safety Car margins, so we would probably have pitted."

Had it not been for Valtteri's staunch defence, Toto believes it could have been a different story at the front in the latter stages of the race.

"I think he [Vettel] would have certainly made it up to Lewis on the UltraSoft and been close to Lewis. The outcome could have been a totally different one.

"Lewis' Softs were 10 laps younger than Valtteri's, so I don't think he [Vettel] could have overtaken. But it would certainly have been more grey hairs for us and excitement towards the end of the race.

Heading into the weekend - and even after Friday practice - the engineers were expecting a tough fight to compete with Ferrari and Red Bull, with neither the circuit nor the conditions in Budapest traditionally favouring the team. So, what made the difference - and how positive might that be for the rest of the season?

"I think free air plays a big role. But it's a little bit of a mystery that sometimes you perform on a tyre and not on the other one - and I think it was the other way around with Ferrari.

"So, more data to collect, more to understand - but the prevailing over-arching feeling for us is that we won the race in Budapest with 60-degree track temperature.

That was something we would have not thought could be achievable for us. And that gives me a good feeling that we have understood more and we can be more competitive in the hot races in the future."