Toto Wolff’s U-Turn between Monza and Singapore noted by pundits

Michelle Foster
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff in the paddock at the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff in the paddock.

From his “punchy” mood in Monza when he disparaged Max Verstappen’s newest F1 record to “happy” in Singapore, F1 Nation podcast pundits believe Mercedes’ pace was a “relief” for Toto Wolff.

Wolff and Mercedes have covered the spectrum of emotions this season as the Brackley squad has swung between disappointment and encouragement, unhappiness and elation, and it’s all been written on team boss Wolff’s face.

Two weeks ago in Monza, the Austrian disparaged Verstappen’s newest Formula 1 record as the driver recorded his 10th win on the trot as he took another leap toward a third World title.

‘Some tension relief for Toto Wolff after this result’

But seven days later there was a smile on Wolff’s face as George Russell and Lewis Hamilton ran within three seconds of the Singapore Grand Prix race win, only Carlos Sainz’s monumental race management keeping them behind with the help of Lando Norris.

Eventually, Russell would crash out on the final lap while Hamilton finished on the podium, 2.5s down on the race winner.

Wolff, Tom Clarkson noted, seemed to be in a better frame of mood than he was the previous week.

“I felt he was quite punchy in Monza, you know he wasn’t ready to recognise Max’s 10 wins in a row, comparing it to Wikipedia that nobody reads,” he said in the latest edition of the F1 Nation podcast. “Do you feel he was a little bit more gentle, more relaxed, more conciliatory, really, this weekend?”

Bild journalist Silja Rulle, who saw Wolff shortly after the grand prix, agreed that his mood was notably lifted.

“He seemed happy, relaxed,” she said. “We sometimes can read the mood on Toto’s face and he seemed relaxed from just the facial muscles and the way he was. I think there’s definitely also some tension relief maybe after this result.”

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‘Mercedes went for the win, that was the bottom line’

Alas, it did not result in a victory for Mercedes, although Pedro de la Rosa applauded them for doing everything they could to make it happen.

While the Ferraris, McLarens and even Red Bulls stayed out during a late Virtual Safety Car, Mercedes gambled on losing track position in order to have fresher tyres to fight for the win.

The teammates charged down Charles Leclerc to run third and fourth and then made inroads on leading two. But it was not to be, not for a lack of trying.

“It was the right call if you wanted to go for a race win,” said former F1 driver De la Rosa. “Since lap two George was saying on the radio one that he wants to win.

“I think that they did a fantastic job just keeping those extra sets of new medium tyres that no one had. No one had news mediums so everyone who pitted at the end put on old tyres.

“I think that strategically that worked very well.

“And if the Virtual Safety Car happens, and you have saved one new set of mediums, you must pit. There’s no way around it, you just go for the win.

“It was risky but you want to win the race. You had to go.

“They did exactly what was planned before, use that second type of mediums. They said it after qualifying that they had a second set of mediums and hoped to use it to make it difficult for Ferrari. And that’s exactly what they did.”

He added: “They went for the win, that was the bottom line. They lost more than a second because they lost George’s car. They finished third, but only one car so I think they lost more. But I love the fact that they wanted to win. They went for a win. It didn’t, but they were so close.”

Hamilton’s third place saw him leapfrog Fernando Alonso in the Drivers’ Championship.

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