Mercedes can go for broke at this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with both championships already won, and team principal Toto Wolff hopes Valtteri Bottas can finally secure victory in 2018.
Bottas won last year at the Yas Marina Circuit but it remains his last victory, with the Finn being unfortunate with the timing of a safety car when leading in China before a late puncture took him out in the closing laps in Azerbaijan. He also handed over the lead to Lewis Hamilton in Russia, but now Mercedes has nothing to lose in either championship having secured a fifth drivers’ and constructors’ double in a row, Wolff wants to see Bottas sign off with a win.
“The celebrations in Brixworth and Brackley last week were a very humbling experience,” Wolff said. “Claiming the fifth consecutive double championship — an experience that only very few people in the sport have had before — felt amazing and we all cherished that moment. At the same time, everyone is extremely keen to continue to raise the bar together and be even stronger in 2019.
“For now, we have one race to go in 2018 and we want to put on a great show for the fans who supported us through the season, be it at the track, in front of their TV or on social media. The championship pressure is off, so we can look at this as one race where we can really go for broke.
“Our Silver Arrow has won 10 races so far this season and we all want to add one more to that score — especially Valtteri, who has lost out on wins this season through bad luck and team orders. We know, too, that it will be a tough battle because both Red Bull and Ferrari will have the same target of taking good momentum into the winter.”
While Mercedes has a good record in Abu Dhabi, the track characteristics should also suit its rivals but Wolff believes his team has learned how to get the best out of the W09 this season.
“We have taken four wins in a row at Yas Marina, although it’s a track with a lot of slow- and medium-speed corners. We’ve made some good steps forward when it comes to our car’s performance on similar tracks, so we’re confident that we can perform strongly in Abu Dhabi as well, and end this incredible 2018 season on a high.”