Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff address 2021 F1 rumours in 2019
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Toto Wolff is worried his Mercedes team’s problems could get worse before they get better heading into this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix. The Austrian insists his team will “throw everything” at the race weekend in Sao Paulo, but admits their Red Bull rivals are once again the favourites for glory.
Max Verstappen extended his lead over Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ standings to 19 points after overtaking both Mercedes at the first corner and dominating the rest of the Mexican Grand Prix.
Hamilton finished second ahead of the other Red Bull driven by home favourite Sergio Perez, but Valtteri Bottas’ spin on that first lap after contact from Daniel Ricciardo proved costly.
The Finn finished outside the points, meaning Red Bull were able to pull within just one point of their Mercedes rivals in the constructors’ championship, after being 36 points adrift just two races ago.
“It was definitely a weekend of damage limitation for us,” team principal Wolff said, reflecting on the result in Mexico City.
“Given the track characteristics, we knew it would be a challenging weekend for us and that proved to be the case on Sunday.
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“The win was never in our grasp, but Lewis gave all he had to hang onto that second place, in a car that should probably have finished third. It was a strong defensive drive from him, securing valuable points for both championships.
“For Valtteri, his pole lap on Saturday was spectacular, which made Sunday’s result all the more painful after he was hit at Turn 1.
“That meant it was a very difficult afternoon for him, but we know that’ll only make him more determined to come back fighting next time out.”
Next time out, though, is at another track at high altitude and which also favours the Red Bull car over the Mercedes machine on paper.
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Of course, races do not happen on paper – regardless, Wolff expects his opponents to have the upper hand once again at Interlagos.
“The best thing about a triple-header is you don’t have to wait long for a new opportunity to get the positive momentum back,” he continued.
“We’re excited to be returning to Brazil, the fans are so passionate and Interlagos is such an iconic circuit.
“It’s not been our strongest track in recent seasons and has tended to suit Red Bull more, but this year has proved anything can happen. It’s the last sprint race weekend, too, which opens up more opportunity.”
Despite admitting the Silver Arrows’ disadvantage, the Austrian vowed his team will do all it can to upset the odds or, at the very least, limit the damage once again to keep within touching distance in both championships.
Wolff added: “We’ll be throwing everything we’ve got at the Brazilian Grand Prix and the races beyond.
“We’re privileged to still be in the fight so late in the season and expect these titles to go right down to the wire, with both teams fighting hard to the very last lap.
“We’ve got some catching up to do and know it’ll be an intense battle, but we’ll continue to push hard and keep our eyes firmly set on the end goal.”
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