Toto Wolff drops scrutineering joke as Lewis Hamilton claims fresh P2 finish

Jamie Woodhouse
Toto Wolff smiling.

Toto Wolff smiles as he makes his way through the F1 paddock.

Lewis Hamilton crossed the line P2 for the second time in as many race weekends, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff joking that the W14 still needs to pass fresh FIA checks first, a nod to Hamilton’s Austin disqualification.

Hamilton was only a couple of seconds shy of Max Verstappen at the US Grand Prix come the chequered flag, though that P2 would not stand, with the FIA confirming post race that Hamilton’s Mercedes, plus Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari, had not satisfied the minimum nine millimetre plank thickness.

That was last weekend though, Hamilton having gone a long way to easing that frustration with a P2 result in Mexico, where Verstappen once more took the win.

Toto Wolff jokes scrutineering still to be passed

When reacting to Hamilton’s result, Sky F1 pundit Danica Patrick mentioned that Austin DQ to Wolff, with this fresh Hamilton P2 surely feeling good after the dramas of Austin.

Wolff joked though that they are not in the clear yet.

“Well, we haven’t passed scrutineering yet,” said Wolff with a smile.

“So let’s not praise the day before the evening.”

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Nonetheless, Wolff was wearing that smile proud, as he praised Hamilton’s pace once he had cleared Leclerc for P2 and was running in free air on the medium tyres.

Ferrari had predicted the race would come back to them and Leclerc’s hard tyres, but Hamilton never came under threat, even setting the fastest lap of the race for good measure.

“The smile on our face is because the car was strong,” said Wolff.

“I think once Lewis was in free air, we had so much margin on the medium tyre, the lap times were good and then fastest lap at the end.”

To that point, Wolff was then asked if Hamilton could have challenged Verstappen again for the second weekend on the trot, had he qualified higher than P6.

That was a statement though which Wolff was reluctant to make.

“Not sure,” he admitted. “It’s been a few weekends now that we’ve been saying, ‘We could have’, but we didn’t.

“I think we need to qualify better and then probably the straight-line speed wouldn’t have been so competitive against Max, but overall the pace is there.”

Hamilton did not have much good to say about the Mercedes on Friday and Saturday, though was much happier at the wheel of the W14 on Sunday, so much so that he even said the “balance is great”.

To hear such a response, Wolff joked was a first for his and Hamilton’s Mercedes tenure.

“It’s been 12 years now that we have been discussing during the race, ‘They’re [the tyres] not going to last’, but today I think it was the first [time] he said the car is actually good!” Wolff joked.

“It was a brilliant, brilliant drive and we have these oscillations in performance, we don’t really know, sometimes the tyres stick, sometimes not.”

It was not such a positive outing for George Russell in the sister Mercedes, who was unable to defend P5 from a rampant Lando Norris, forcing him to settle for P6.

He was though, just about, able to keep Daniel Ricciardo at bay.

“I think he totally ran out of tyres, and then it’s so difficult to defend, but he did his best and then kept the position against Daniel,” said Wolff as he reflected on Russell’s race.

With Sergio Perez eliminated at the first corner after colliding with Leclerc, Hamilton is now only 20 points behind the Red Bull driver in pursuit of the runner-up spot in the Drivers’ Championship.

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