Toto Wolff promises ‘really aggressive’ approach to aid Lewis Hamilton title bid

  • Mercedes chief says team must take the fight to Max Verstappen
  • Red Bull have ‘a good set of circuits coming up’, warns Hamilton

Mercedes will have to be aggressive to support Lewis Hamilton’s attempt to take an eighth Formula One world championship this season, according to their team principal, Toto Wolff.

Following Hamilton’s victory at the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday, Wolff said the team must go on the attack against Max Verstappen and Red Bull, who finished an improbable second after starting at the rear of the grid.

Hamilton won at Sochi after an enthralling race in which he chased down the McLaren of Lando Norris who appeared to be on course to take victory. With rain late in the race, however, Norris opted to stay out and try to take the flag on slick tyres while Hamilton pitted for wet rubber. It proved to be the right decision as the rain intensified and Norris floundered, going wide and allowing Hamilton through to take the win.

Sochi is a track where Mercedes have been dominant in the past and they had expected to do well here again. With Verstappen starting from the back because of penalties imposed for taking a new engine, Mercedes had hoped to maximise their points advantage over the Dutchman. Verstappen drove a superb recovery drive, however, aided by Red Bull also pitting him early for wet tyres enabling him to sweep through from seventh to second.

Having been five points down, Hamilton took a two-point lead in the title fight with seven rounds remaining. However, there is little to choose between the two teams and with Mercedes having stopped developing this year’s car Wolff admitted his team would have to try to take the fight to Red Bull.

“Max recovered in spectacular form, and that is not good for the championship,” he said. “We just need to continue to be really aggressive in how we approach this season, not be defensive but just move forward, in order to score these big points. Because neither us nor the others are really good in maximising the points at the moment.”

Toto Wolff at the Russian Grand Prix.
Toto Wolff was hoping for more than just a seven-point swing to Lewis Hamilton from Max Verstappen at the Russian Grand Prix. Photograph: Reuters

Hamilton did not score at the previous round at Monza after he was hit by Verstappen who was attempting a pass and this was the world champion’s first win since the British GP in July. The next round is in Turkey, followed by the US and Mexican grands prix, all circuits where Hamilton expected Red Bull to be strong.

“There’s still everything to play for in these next races,” he said. “I think they’ve got a good set of circuits coming up and I anticipate it will continue to be really close between us. Just got to be hopeful of some good races.”

Hamilton’s victory in Russia was his 100th in Formula One, a feat not achieved by any other driver. Ross Brawn, F1’s sporting director, has said he believes the British driver who has signed with Mercedes for two more seasons might yet score another 20.

“There is nothing stopping him,” Brawn said. “Who knows where it’s going to end up? He’s with us for another couple of years at least and he will win races every year. I don’t think we could predict 200 wins, but I think we could certainly predict 20 more as he’s still massively competitive and motivated.”

Contributor

Giles Richards

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Toto Wolff angry despite ‘best ever’ Lewis Hamilton performance in Brazil
Toto Wolff described Lewis Hamilton’s victory as one of his ‘best ever’ but hit out at ‘laughable’ decisions he believes Mercedes suffered in Brazil

Giles Richards

15, Nov, 2021 @5:28 PM

Article image
Mercedes’ Toto Wolff expects ‘hungry’ Lewis Hamilton to stay with F1 team
The Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, said Lewis Hamilton had been energised by the F1 world title battle with Max Verstappen

Giles Richards at the Red Bull Ring

25, Jun, 2021 @3:05 PM

Article image
Toto Wolff says Red Bull went ‘below the belt’ with attack on Lewis Hamilton
The Mercedes team principal explained the team’s scathing statement designed to defend their driver after his clash with Max Verstappen at Silverstone

Giles Richards at the Hungaroring

30, Jul, 2021 @3:51 PM

Article image
Wolff fears ‘messy’ finale to Hamilton v Verstappen F1 world title battle
The Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, knows Max Verstappen would be champion if neither he nor Lewis Hamilton finished in Abu Dhabi

Giles Richards

06, Dec, 2021 @6:52 PM

Article image
Lewis Hamilton eyes fourth title after showing composure and maturity | Giles Richards
Lewis Hamilton has proved he knows how to play the game and stay out of trouble as he progresses to the threshold of another drivers’ crown with his triumph in Austin

Giles Richards

23, Oct, 2017 @8:56 PM

Article image
Lewis Hamilton cannot be complacent in F1 title race, says Toto Wolff
Lewis Hamilton cannot afford to be complacent in his attempt to win a fourth Formula One world championship despite a 28-point lead, warned Toto Wolff

Giles Richards

18, Sep, 2017 @4:03 PM

Article image
Toto Wolff: ‘Lewis Hamilton is such a complex individual”
Toto Wolff praises Lewis Hamilton but knows how quickly an F1 season can go wrong, he tells Giles Richards

Giles Richards in Suzuka

06, Oct, 2018 @3:00 PM

Article image
Lewis Hamilton will not let ‘negative bubble’ derail his F1 title hopes
Lewis Hamilton, who has been comprehensively beaten by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in recent races, is determined not to worry too much about his world title hopes

Giles Richards at the Red Bull Ring

01, Jul, 2021 @3:29 PM

Article image
Lewis Hamilton dominates F1 Qatar GP to cut Max Verstappen’s title lead
Lewis Hamilton won the debut Qatar Grand Prix from pole with Max Verstappen finishing in second place, despite a grid penalty meaning the Red Bull driver started in seventh

Giles Richards

21, Nov, 2021 @4:13 PM

Article image
Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes not giving up F1 title fight, insists Toto Wolff
The Mercedes team principal said he still believes Lewis Hamilton can win his eighth F1 world title this season, despite Max Verstappen’s 19-point lead

Giles Richards

08, Nov, 2021 @5:40 PM