MONTE CARLO, Principality of Monaco: Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff on Monday praised Lewis Hamilton’s “superb drive” for exploiting an aggressive strategy in last weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix and making their team relationship stronger than ever.
Wolff said Hamilton’s flawless driving in the wet-and-dry conditions throughout 78 laps of the unforgiving barrier-lined Mediterranean street circuit was “just what the doctor ordered.”
Hamilton, who demonstrated supreme tire-management and race-craft, said it was his “best ever” win and the one that made him feel “in my heart, that I earned.”
The win ended a run of eight races without a win, littered with accidents and mechanical and technical failures, over seven months since he clinched his third world title in Texas last October.
That barren spell had culminated in a fractious first lap collision with championship-leading team-mate Nico Rosberg at the Spanish Grand Prix.
“These last couple of weeks have strengthened him and strengthened our relationship,” said Wolff. “That’s how I perceive it.
“If you go through really bad times together, it can build the relationship and give it even more strength.”
Hamilton’s win, together with championship-leading team-mate Rosberg’s disappointing drive to seventh, enabled him to cut the German’s lead from 43 points to 24 after six races.
The team asked Rosberg, struggling while running second in the early stages, to let Hamilton pass him, a request that he complied with. “I said ‘thanks for being a gentleman,’” said Hamilton.
“Although I feel, with Nico, it wasn’t going well for him, it is a big relief that we were able to score that win with Lewis after such a terrible streak of bad luck,” said Wolff.
The Austrian also praised Hamilton’s skill in support of their decision to keep him out on
full wet tires until lap 31 when he pitted for ultra-softs, without stopping for intermediates.
He said the decision not to go for intermediates was a joint decision involving Hamilton
and his engineers.
“There was a discussion on the pit wall,” he said.
Two weeks on from their dismal day at the Circuit de Catalunya, Rosberg’s unselfish move released Hamilton and restored team unity. It may also have reignited Hamilton’s title challenge.