Tales from the paddock – Toto Wolff: “The battle at the top is more exciting than ever before”

Aug 1, 2018

Summer break for Formula 1 and DTM: Toto Wolff sums up the season so far and looks ahead to the second half of the campaign

  • This is what happened: Weekend results and facts
  • News from the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport teams
  • Four questions for Toto Wolff
  • Social media news: What’s new online?

This is what happened: Results and facts

  • Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton records his fifth win of the season in the Hungarian Grand Prix

News snippets

Hungarian GP – Stat-Attack: The Hungaroring has not been a particular favourite of the team in recent years, but on the final race weekend before the summer break, they rose to the challenge and secured the eleventh pole position (new record for an engine manufacturer on this track) and the eleventh victory (more than any other engine manufacturer) in Hungary for the brand with the three-pointed star. Lewis also further polished his crown as ‘ King of Budapest’. His 77th Formula 1 pole position was also his sixth at the Hungaroring, a record that is surpassed only by Michael Schumacher who has seven poles to his credit in Hungary. Lewis and Sebastian Vettel are now on level pegging in terms of pole positions this season with five each. Lewis’s 67th Grand Prix victory on Sunday puts him well in the clear in two categories – most wins in Hungary (six) and most wins this season (five). All of this was accomplished on the track where he clinched his first Grand Prix victory with the team in 2013.

Strong at Spa: In the 70th running of the Total 24 Hours of Spa, the teams fielding Mercedes-AMG GT3s produced a strong overall performance. A record contingent of 13 vehicles built at Affalterbach competed in the legendary endurance classic last weekend, and four of them finished in the Top 12.

The best result was secured by the number 4 car entered by Mercedes-AMG Team BLACK FALCON and driven by Yelmer Buurman (NED), Maro Engel (GER) and Luca Stolz (GER). The GT3 looked to be on course for a podium until four hours before the end of the race. However, an unfortunately timed pit stop shortly before a full-course yellow dropped the driver trio behind the Top Three. Taking the chequered flag in sixth place was the number 88 car entered by Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP and driven by Daniel Juncadella (ESP), Raffaele Marciello (ITA) and Tristan Vautier (FRA). Eleventh place went to the number 43 car of Mercedes-AMG team STRAKKA Racing with Maximilian Buhk (GER), Maximilian Götz (GER) and Alvaro Parente (POR) sharing the cockpit, closely followed by the number 84 Mercedes-AMG Team MANN-FILTER car of Edoardo Mortara (ITA), Gary Paffett (GBR) and Renger van der Zande (NED) in twelfth place.

Outside the general classification, the Customer Racing teams achieved three podium finishes: the number 42 of STRAKKA Racing led the Pro-AM class for much of the time, but the quartet of Chris Buncombe (GBR), David Fumanelli (ITA), Nick Leventis (GBR) and Lewis Williamson (GBR) ultimately had to settle for the runner-up spot. Third place on the Pro-AM podium went to the number 175 of SunEnergy1 Team HTP Motorsport driven by Kenny Habul (AUS), Thomas Jäger (GER), Martin Konrad (AUT) and Bernd Schneider (GER). In the Silver Cup, the number 6 BLACK FALCON Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Abdulaziz Al Faisal (KSA), Hubert Haupt (GER), Manuel Metzger (GER) and Gabriele Piana (ITA) made a valiant charge through the field from last on the grid to secure P2 in their class.

These creditable results have allowed Mercedes-AMG to close the gap in the Intercontinental GT Challenge manufacturers’ championship at this halfway point in the season. They are now in P2. The Endurance Cup of the Blancpain GT Series is led by four Mercedes-AMG drivers – Raffaele Marciello, Maro Engel, Luca Stolz and Yelmer Buurman.

Mercedes-AMG top manufacturer at Spa: The consistent performance across the board by the ten Mercedes-AMG cars that actually finished the race – seven of them in the Top 20 – and the solid results in the various classes ensured that Mercedes-AMG lifted the prestigious Coupe du Roi for the most successful manufacturer in the 24-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps.

Jubilation at the Hockenheimring: Success for the Mercedes-AMG GT3 was not confined to Spa. In the two 30-minute sprint races of the STT Spezial Tourenwagen Trophy (Special Touring Car Trophy) at the Hockenheimring, Mario Hirsch (#20, Race‑Art.eu) made two podium appearances, one for a P2 and the other for a P3. Marvin Dienst (#16, Schütz Motorsport) won the Dunlop 60 in the DMV GTC. Kenneth Heyer in the number 14 Mercedes-AMG GT3 entered by équipe vitesse finished second in Saturday’s race on the illustrious circuit in Baden.

Three questions for Toto Wolff

Toto, Formula 1 is now about to start its summer break. After twelve races, how would you sum up the season so far?

Toto Wolff: The battle at the top is more exciting than ever before, and things are also very tight in the midfield. The races have not only produced some great wheel-to-wheel action on the track but also some surprise winners: seven of the twelve races so far were not necessarily won by the fastest car. All in all, I would say that the 2018 season has been a marvellous advertisement for the sport. For us as a team, the half-term report is a positive one, as we are currently leading both world championships. We owe this to the efforts of our team in Brackley and Brixworth and to the driving skills of Lewis and Valtteri. At the same time, though, we also realise that we have dropped points in more than one race, so we are going flat out to boost performance even more for the second half of the season. We will be working very hard on that right up to the weekend when the summer break officially begins as decreed by the regulations. It’s a break that everyone on our team has more than earned. We will then come back refreshed with the necessary energy to raise our game even further in the second half of the season.

And how are things looking in the DTM?

Toto Wolff: In the DTM, we currently lead all three championships – an excellent achievement by the team in Affalterbach! Before the season began, we promised the fans that our final season in the DTM would be as successful as we could make it, and in that regard, we have kept our word. The performance of the car is very encouraging, and the same goes for our drivers. Each of them has had some memorable moments, and several of them are in contention for the title. But we also know that you have to go one step at a time in racing. In such a highly competitive series as the DTM, every last detail counts – and a single mistake can be costly. That’s why we’re keeping our feet on the ground and facing each race weekend as a new challenge. Next week, we go to Brands Hatch where the team will compete on the Grand Prix Circuit. I’m sure it will be a real experience for any racer to be driving on that particular track – one that rewards not only the best technical package but also driving skills and courage. We still have five race weekends left in our final DTM season, and we intend to make every one of them a memorable occasion.

Towards the end of 2019, Mercedes will be entering Formula E for the first time, and the name of the team has recently been decided: Mercedes EQ Formula E Team. What else have you to tell us on that front?

Toto Wolff: Our involvement in Formula E is taking on ever more concrete forms. In addition to the name and the announcement of SAP as our first partner, we have also made some decisions on how best to integrate the team into our current motorsport activities so that we can draw on our existing expertise. For example, we will develop the powertrain at HPP in Brixworth where our Formula 1 engines are already being built. This will allow us to make use of the expertise that we have already acquired there in the design of Formula 1 hybrid engines. Brackley, where our chassis for Formula 1 is built, will also be helping to develop the Formula E team. The racing side will be managed by HWA AG who are already doing an excellent job for us in the DTM. The team based in Affalterbach will be contesting Formula E with effect from the coming season, initially as a Venturi customer team, so as to familiarise themselves with the series. The more concrete our plans become for our involvement in Formula E, the more we relish the prospect of this new challenge.

Social Media News

#PurePitWall: How did Lewis manage to stay out on the UltraSoft tyres for so long? Would Valtteri have benefited from a pit stop during the VSC phase? What are the strengths and weaknesses of Mercedes compared to Ferrari? All this and much more is revealed by James Allison in our Hungarian GP debriefing.

Watch video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9NbkUnAZkM

#24hAMG: Anyone competing in the world’s biggest GT race is going to experience ups and downs, a real emotional roller-coaster. Our thanks go to all the drivers and teams who fought so hard in the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. We’l l be back next year, and in full attack mode again!

Watch video: www.facebook.com/MercedesAMGCustomerRacing/videos/1982067635190740/

Toto Wolff
Formula One - Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Hungarian GP 2018. Lewis Hamilton
Formula One - Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Hungarian GP 2018. Lewis Hamilton
Formula One - Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Hungarian GP 2018. Lewis Hamilton
Formula One - Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Hungarian GP 2018. Lewis Hamilton
Formula One - Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Hungarian GP 2018. Lewis Hamilton
Formula One - Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Hungarian GP 2018. Lewis Hamilton