As the Formula 1 World Championship season reaches the half way point, ahead of the month long summer break, Mercedes are top of the constructors’ standings while both their drivers – Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas – are very much in contention for the drivers’ accolade, and the pair are what team chief Toto Wolff believes is the team’s biggest forte.
Speaking ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix, Wolff said, “Our drivers have been one of our biggest strengths so far. Lewis has delivered some consummate performances this year in China, Canada and Silverstone in particular.”
“The win in front of his home crowd was emotionally charged and I am sure he is carrying that energy with him right now. As we see almost each weekend, he is equalling and matching new records in our sport’s history – and building a legacy as one of the sport’s greatest drivers.”
“Budapest has always been a good circuit for him but, as he knows better than anybody else, the past is no guarantee of future performance. It’s all about the right preparation, hard work and delivering on the day.”
Hamilton is second in the driver’s championship, a mere point adrift of top spot while Bottas is 22 points behind Hamilton.
Although the quiet Finn has yet to be offered an extension to his one year contract, Wolff is impressed, “Valtteri has embodied Finnish resolve and fighting spirit. He has a fierce work ethic, steely approach and a great natural talent.”
“He threw himself into the challenge of switching teams and we are now starting to see his full potential reveal itself. I have the feeling he is getting better with each passing weekend and is already a more complete driver than at the start of the season. I’m excited to imagine how he will continue to develop for the rest of the season.”
The twisty nature of the Hungaroring may favour Mercedes’ rivals, but Wolff is keen to keep the momentum going in the wake of the team’s one-two at Silverstone, “Now we head to Budapest for the final race before the summer break. We enjoyed a fantastic weekend in Silverstone but it is now something nice in the history books.”
“We have to do the job again beginning with first practice in Hungary. Our rivals will be determined to fight back strongly – and we have to anticipate that. There is no complacency at all at Mercedes, just a resolute determination to get the job done.”
“We have reached the halfway point of the 2017 season and both championships are very much in the balance right now. The points tables show that we have a small buffer in the constructors’ race and a small deficit on the drivers’ side. But that’s not important at this stage – there are no prizes awarded for the half-time champions.”
“Our approach is to take it weekend by weekend, to build our performance at each circuit in a calm and logical way and to keep pushing. The time for worrying about the points will come later. What I see when I walk the corridors of our factories is an energy and determination like never before. It is inspiring to see how our team is tackling this championship battle.”
“The first half of the season was a mixed one for us. From the first test, it was clear we had a real fight on our hands with Ferrari – and soon we could see this might become one of the classic seasons. It was a bumpy start for us as we didn’t quite find the right set-up window to make our car function.”
“Then we had a bad weekend in Monaco – like always, you learn much more from your defeats than your victories. We used that learning in the right way and, from that point, we started to turn things around,” added Wolff.
Big Question: Are Lewis and Valtteri the best driver pairing in F1 right now?