Toto Wolff: “The race isn’t over until the flag drops”

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Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff says the Mercedes dominance everyone is talking about could have “vanished in a second” at the British GP.

The Britis Grand Prix ended in dramatic fashion for Mercedes. First Valtteri Bottas got a tyre puncture on lap 50 and then two laps later the same thing happened to race leader Lewis Hamilton. Although Bottas had to pit and ultimately dropped out of the points, Hamilton masterfully managed to win the race on three wheels.

Toto Wolff says this situation once again proved that the champiobship is not already decided and unpredictable things can happen.

“I know that I get lots of criticism when I point out that events like this can happen, that once you think that everything is smooth and you are just cruising into the sunset, these things can unfold,” said Wolff.

“We could have easily lost two cars today out of the points, and then the so-called Mercedes dominance would have vanished in a second. We could have had the fastest car at Silverstone but gone home with zero points.

“This is what I am always pointing out, that the championship is not over until it is mathematically impossible for anybody else to catch us and the race isn’t over until the flag drops.

“In that respect, I am not happy that my predictions come true sometimes for us, but that is also what I love about motor racing, that it is very unpredictable until the end.”

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The same tyre also failed on Carlos Sainz’s car, so Wolff is expecting Pirelli to address the issue for the next race that will again be held at Silverstone.

“Pirelli is always very diligent and very transparent in pointing out if there will be potential problems, and it was clear from the beginning that with this generation of cars and the amount of downforce at Silverstone, there could be blistering on the tyre. We saw it also in the junior formulas.

“It is a very difficult job to produce tyres for cars that generate so much downforce, so doing these laps with the hards was not something that was completely unusual so we take the risks.

“I wouldn’t want to make any conclusions now as to what the reason of the failures was because there was so much debris out on track, looking at the [Kimi] Raikkonen bits on the track at the end.

“With any tyre, if it is worn down the debris will get through the carcass easier. I think we need to wait for Pirelli’s analysis and I am sure they will make the right decisions.“

Some are suggesting Mercedes’ innovative Dual Axis Steering (DAS) system might have had something to do with the tyre failures, but Wolff doesn’t think so.

“I don’t think the DAS system had any influence. For example, Carlos Sainz had the same problem with what I think was the same tyre, front left.

“That’s the one that’s having a hard time at Silverstone, and we’ve seen more drivers blistering on their hard tyres. The punctures have nothing to do with DAS.

Wolff also confirms there were discussions about pitting Hamilton after Bottas’ tyre failed.

“We had that discussion at the pit wall. There was enough margin compared to Verstappen to bring Lewis in again, but there was only one lap to go and Lewis’ tyres looked better than those of Valtteri.

“That’s why we decided to let him continue,” concluded the Austrian.

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