Toto Wolff says Lewis Hamilton can match Michael Schumacher’s Formula 1 records as soon as next season, as long as Mercedes can continue to give him the tools for the job.
Hamilton won his sixth drivers’ championship by finishing second at the United States Grand Prix on Sunday, leaving him one behind Schumacher’s record. He is also just eight wins behind Schumacher’s benchmark of 91 after taking 10 victories so far this year, but Wolff, Mercedes’ team principal, says his team needs to provide the platform to challenge those statistics.
“There is a reason why the Schumacher record stands – because it’s very difficult,” Wolff said. “If we’re able to provide the drivers with a good car next year, that is competitive, we continue to work on the gaps we still have, try and minimize the mistakes and he has a good season, there is no reason why he couldn’t go for a seventh title.”
Reflecting on a year when Mercedes has won a sixth consecutive championship double, Wolff says the manner Hamilton wrapped up his championship – a one-two in Austin behind Valtteri Bottas – was the perfect way to cap off the success.
“Every championship seems like the hardest – it’s maybe because we are protected by our memory, but certainly this year had its ups and downs. We came out of the blocks very strong, didn’t have the quickest package on Saturday for a long time. But we are able to make the least mistakes on a Sunday. That was probably the biggest key in making us win the championship.
“For me, the highlight is Austin. We came back to old form, winning a title decider with Valtteri and winning the championship with Lewis with strong pace is for me the highlight of the season.”
Wolff believes Hamilton can get even better given his work ethic, as the 34-year-old shows no signs of wanting to retire.
“He just drives cars bloody fast. It’s where talent meets a big push for self improvement all the time. And that combination, the background, makes him stand out in his generation.
“He will always say there is room for improvement, and I think this is the mentality you need to have. He is, for me, on an extremely high level. But you never want to give yourself or anybody 10 out of 10 because you might just be a nine and you want to have the room for being a 10 in the future.”