The challenge faced by Lewis Hamilton in Brazil triggered a reaction that allows him to ruthlessly perform at a higher level, according to Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.
Hamilton set the fastest time in qualifying at Interlagos but was later disqualified when his car failed scrutineering due to a failed part of the rear wing. With Max Verstappen therefore starting first, Hamilton faced a tough task from the back of the grid but rose to fifth in the Sprint before winning the grand prix itself from 10th, backing that up with pole and victory in Qatar to reduce Verstappen’s championship lead to eight points.
“They have woken up the lion on the Saturday in Interlagos,” Wolff said. “He is absolutely on it. Brutal. And cold blooded. This is the best in Lewis and we’ve seen it in the past and this is right there.
“I think when adversity happens it takes him to a place where he is able to mobilize superhero powers. It was the adversity that triggered that at Interlagos.”
While Mercedes was on the back foot in Austin and Mexico — where Verstappen won on both occasions despite Circuit of the Americas being viewed as a Mercedes circuit — Wolff insists he had no doubts over his team’s ability to fight back in the championship battle.
“I think I never stopped believing that this was on, because we had such a strong Turkey that obviously fell back below our expectations in Austin and in Mexico. Anyone in the team refuses to give up.
“I’m grateful how the championship has swung. If you had told me at the start of the year that we’d be right in the fight in Saudi and Abu Dhabi I would have taken it. I hope that’s going to go all the way to the end and whoever will win merits the win.”