Despite his first-lap crash, Toto Wolff was certain that Lewis Hamilton would have been a contender for win in the Spanish Grand Prix.
Toto Wolff feels Lewis Hamilton would have raced for the win in Spain if he hadn’t collided with Kevin Magnussen on the opening lap.
Around the outside of Turn 4, the Mercedes racer was pressured by Haas competitor Magnussen, who was in 6th place just after first turns of the first lap.
Magnussen was required to pit after an accident with Hamilton, who had punctured a tyre.
Hamilton rebounded to 4th position after a reported water leak in the power unit, but was overtaken by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.
Wolff: The late-race pace set by Hamilton was incredible
Wolff justified the choice not to withdraw the vehicle after the race, claiming that Hamilton’s speed would have been strong enough to fight for the win.
“It’s always the decision [to make] when you’ve basically lost the race to decide if there is a benefit of continuing,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1.
“I think from a driver’s perspective, [you’re thinking] that can’t be possible, I’m 50 seconds behind the leaders.
“It’s still available mileage, we are never giving up anyway, and at the end his race pace was stunning, he would have raced for the win.”
The crew needs to clarify if there is any severe damage to the power unit, according to Wolff.
“We saw this [problem] growing during the race and it was not clear whether or not we would finish, and at the end it was literally just making it over the line,” Wolff added.
“I’m not sure if we damaged the engine.”
Wolff defends his choice to not retire Hamilton
For a range of factors, the Mercedes Team Principal believes the choice to retain Hamilton in the competition was justifiable.
Hamilton showed a notable rebound in speed and tyre management in the second half of the race, which Wolff ascribed to “pit stop modifications.”
“I think on the first stint, we need to look up how we managed the tyre,” said Wolff.
“It looked like we had no chance to follow the pace. Even without DRS, Max [Verstappen] was able to overtake [Russell] with the new tyre.
“But then somehow the car flipped in terms of performance. We saw Lewis storming to the front with same-age tyres and then we realised, ‘Okay, there is something to learn here’, and then suddenly we unlocked the potential by just tweaking things at the pit-stop.
“I’m happy that we didn’t retire Lewis, because that was the most valuable race for us to compare the two cars, to compare set-ups and tyres.”
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