Hamilton win 'big step' to keeping titles says Mercedes chief

Toto Wolff. (TeamTalk Media)
Toto Wolff. (TeamTalk Media)

Sochi - Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff claimed his team had taken a major step towards retaining their titles with Lewis Hamilton's unexpected victory in Sunday's Russian Grand Prix.

Wolff admitted that Mercedes did not have the quickest car at the Sochi Autodrom, but had won thanks to some luck, good strategy and a never-say-die belief in their chances.

He offered sympathy to his Ferrari counterpart Mattia Binotto.

"That's why we love racing," he said.

"You can win when you haven't got the quickest package. It makes it so special -- it's unbelievable.

"You start to doubt and you know where you have deficits and you cling on to the few hopes, like a late Safety Car, and then it happens.

"We're overwhelmed and it's a big step towards the championship."

He said he had seen a transcript of Ferrari's radio conversations as their drivers and the team talked about an agreement that unravelled in the opening laps of the race.

"I haven't seen the whole thing," said Wolff.

"I have the transcript, which I read, and it shows you that it's not trivial at all to have two drivers who want to win."

"As a team we have been through his situation and it's certainly not easy," he added, referring to the fierce rivalry between Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at Mercedes in 2016.

He said also that it was ironic that a Ferrari retirement - when Sebastian Vettel, while leading, suffered an engine failure - had given Mercedes their victory.

"The Safety Car caused by their own car gave us the win," he said, adding that Valtteri Bottas' battling defence of second place, under pressure from Charles Leclerc, had been vital.

"It's the second time Valtteri has done it here and he was a big part of us winning," said Wolff.

"If Charles had gone through, our win would be at risk.

"We have a big job on our hands now -- we need to sort out our pace in qualifying and our tyres in order to be quicker in the races.

"But this was a big step towards the championship -- but it's not done."


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