Wolff: ‘Without the Safety Car, Hamilton would have won’

Sam Cooper
Lewis Hamilton up close in his yellow helmet. Silverstone July 2022

Toto Wolff believes that without a late Safety Car, Lewis Hamilton would have gone on to win his first race of the season at the British Grand Prix.

Following Max Verstappen’s car issues, the win looked likely to only ever be heading in one of three directions with Hamilton battling the two Ferraris.

As the Ferrari boys argued over the team radio for track position, Hamilton closed the gap between himself and the front-runners until he was right behind the duo.

Ferrari opted to pit Carlos Sainz and soon did similar with Charles Leclerc which meant Hamilton led the race, much to the delight of the home crowd.

Despite being on older tyres, Hamilton had looked as if he was making them last and when he finally pitted, he was then undone by a Safety Car deployment caused by Esteban Ocon.

As the front-runners pitted for soft tyres, Hamilton found he did not quite have the pace to beat eventual winner Sainz as well as Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.

Speaking afterwards, Mercedes team boss Wolff argued had it not been for that Safety Car, Hamilton was on for the race win in what would have been a ninth victory at the Silverstone circuit.

“The car had some performance today and we were in there to win the race – that’s very encouraging,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1.

“We lost a little bit of momentum after the restart but we had almost no bouncing, which was encouraging, and the pace was good on the hard and the medium [tyres]. Just on the softs we were not able to really get the grip we would have wished at the end.

“I think without the Safety Car he would have probably won the race. At the end it was just Perez was there and then Sainz just went. It’s okay, the most encouraging [part] is we had a car that was able to race.”

Despite missing out on top spot, Wolff was optimistic about the W13’s improved performance and while he did say it was not a “love affair” just yet, he believed they were beginning to “flirt” with the car.

“I think we just want to, on our own, win races, that would be great. Be there, fight with them. That would be a target. So we have a car we can develop for next year also.

“It’s not a real love affair [yet]. We have just today for the first time started to flirt a bit with the car.”