Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Mercedes’ boss Toto Wolff says the mistakes made by his team in Brazil would still have been made had he attended the race.
Toto Wolff missed the Brazilian Grand Prix two weeks ago, the first race he had not been in attendance at in over six years. This was because of him deciding to help oversee the launch of Mercedes’ Formula E programme in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia last weekend, as well as carrying out office work back at base in light of Mercedes wrapping up both F1 titles in recent races.
With Wolff away for Interlagos, James Allison took over as the team boss on the ground for the Brazilian round and it ended up being a slightly scrappy weekend for the Silver Arrows. Failing to topple Max Verstappen from top spot, a strategic gamble got Hamilton into the lead at the first stops. However, Hamilton was caught out by a depleted battery and Verstappen pounced to reclaim the lead. Later in the race, Hamilton gave up track position for a late tyre switch under the Safety Car and, as a result, had to fight to overtake Alex Albon to recover P2. The pair collided, with Hamilton eventually finishing P3 on track behind Verstappen and Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly. A time penalty for the Albon collision resulted in him finishing P7, while Valtteri Bottas retired with an oil starved engine.
“It was weird, because it was the first race that I missed since Williams times – Barcelona 2012.” said Wolff at the team’s press conference on Friday in Abu Dhabi. “I did it because there’s just so much business going on at the moment and I had a Formula E weekend the following weekend and obviously Abu Dhabi and things needed to be done. Normal office work.”
“It was also for me an experiment to see how I would take it. I know the team is perfectly capable in doing that without me. There were voices that it would actually be beneficial for me not distracting anybody around the racetrack. So, what happened, would have happened with me there. I was hoping that it would be a perfect weekend and that I could miss some of the bad ones next year – but at the moment I am off that plan!”