Lewis Hamilton’s ability to keep learning so much despite his vast experience in Formula 1 helps give him an edge over Max Verstappen at the moment, according to Toto Wolff.
Verstappen took pole position in Bahrain but was beaten in the race by Hamilton, who has won three of the four grands prix so far. In Spain, Hamilton was running behind Verstappen — as he was for spells in every race this season — but committing to a two-stop strategy allowed Mercedes to pass the Red Bull for victory, and Wolff says the way Hamilton absorbs information is playing a part in the recent success.
“I think he’s just faultless,” Wolff said. “That is no guarantee he will be all season, because we all make mistakes and the car can break down. But his ability of learning, still, after so many seasons, is very impressive. And if you have the possibility of following the other team and the other drivers so closely, then you learn even more.”
With Red Bull saying Mercedes had a faster car over the past two races despite the opposite looking true in Bahrain, Wolff believes his team’s strength has been long-run performance compared to qualifying speed, but also the way it takes its opportunities.
“I think on pace, it very much swings in Red Bull’s favor on Saturday, probably on Sunday towards us. Our car seems to be good on the tires. We had almost faultless executions, and (in Spain) we were behind — but we were in a position to make that (two-stop) call because we had the gap. Then you have less to lose. You end up second on the road, where you are anyway, or first.
“It was nevertheless still a difficult call, because Lewis was so close to Max. In his DRS before we decided to go on the two-stop — and this is really where the strategy team comes into play — saying the probability is higher that we overtake them at the end of the race than now on a tire that is only five laps younger.”