Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is wary of “the potential for carnage” at the start of today’s Mexican Grand Prix, given the grid order.
Red Bull locked out the front row on Saturday with Daniel Ricciardo pipping teammate Max Verstappen to pole by just 0.026s. Lewis Hamilton will start from third place alongside Sebastian Vettel, and while Red Bull has shown competitive pace throughout the weekend, the long run to Turn 1 is not a strength for the team.
“The grid has the potential for carnage on the straight and through the first corners, because you have the two Red Bulls who have the least straight-line speed on the front row, and then it’s us and then the Ferraris are obviously almost 10kph up on everyone else,” said Wolff (pictured above, middle, with technical director James Allison, left, and chief race engineer Andy Shovlin). “I try to visualize how that could be like down the straight (opens arms out wide) and through the first corner — I just hope we come out of it with two cars intact.”
Hamilton suggested Mercedes allowed itself to be influenced by Vettel’s position in the last race at Circuit of The Americas rather than focusing on simply getting the best race result, and even with only a top-seven finish required for Hamilton to become champion, Wolff insists the bigger title picture should not come into Mercedes’ thinking.
“Luckily I forget quickly about the past, because we suffered too much. I think … it’s having the mindset of really extracting the best performance out of every single day. I’m happy with what we have achieved (in qualifying), and now it’s about carrying it through.
“We have it in our hands in that having a good result with Lewis, that could be the decisive result for his championship. But it is not done yet.
“We mustn’t drop the ball. It’s about carrying the ball over the line, and this exercise needs to happen and in Brazil. This is why I don’t want to think too much — none of us want to think too much — about the championship, but just really concentrate on the task at hand.”