Toto Wolff says Mercedes would not have won five straight constructors’ championships without Lewis Hamilton in the team.
Hamilton joined Mercedes in 2013 for the last season under V8 engine regulations before Formula 1 switched to V6 turbo hybrids the following year. The team has gone on to win five drivers’ and constructors’ championship doubles in a row, and amid the attention on Hamilton’s four drivers’ titles in that time, Wolff says his impact on Mercedes as a whole should not be overlooked.
“No, we wouldn’t have won five championships, he’s a exceptional driver and an unbelievable personality — human is the right word — and therefore he has been an integral part of the team,” Wolff said. “He’s at the forefront of the car. There are many other exceptional people who have contributed to the success but clearly it wouldn’t have gone without him and it wouldn’t have gone without others either.”
Hamilton was largely restrained after securing his own drivers’ title in Mexico but celebrated more emphatically at Interlagos, with Wolff saying the reaction highlights the importance of Mercedes’ success.
“He sounded very emotional because this constructors’ championship meant so much to him. When I had a conversation with him on the Sunday night after Mexico, we both didn’t feel happy. Here’s a driver that has just won his fifth drivers championship and was not satisfied because our objective is — without not wanting to sound not humble — to win both championships, also for the team.
“That’s why he was emotional, understanding the race situation and he wanted to finish this on a high and win the constructors’ championship in Brazil.”
It was a Hamilton victory that wrapped up the constructors’ title for Mercedes on Sunday, but Wolff says the Briton very nearly had to retire with reliability issues.
“It was the most difficult and that’s why the relief now is the most I’ve ever felt. We had such a horrible race, with the perfect end result with Lewis winning and us winning the constructors’ championship but I can tell you mid race, we had the information power unit failure imminent on Lewis’ car.
“The guys in the background and the HPP (High Performance Powertrains) guys fixed it. God knows how you can fix hardware that is just about to break and make the car finish. That race was just a nightmare until the checkered flag came down. And everything broke loose.”