Mercedes team boss Wolff: ‘Formula 1 needed this crazy race’

It was a special and not everyday sight on Sunday afternoon. No stage with Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen, but Pierre Gasly, Carlos Sainz and Lance Stroll were on spots one, two and three.

For the first time since the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2012 there was no driver of Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull Racing on the podium after a race.

F1 needs a commotion

Especially the absence of the Mercedes drivers was striking. Although Toto Wolff, the team boss of the German race stable, can put things into perspective. “It’s a loss for Mercedes and other big teams like Red Bull Racing. We have lost the race, but this is a victory for the sport”

“Of course I would have liked to win all races this year, but Formula 1 needs to shake up the pecking order,” said the team boss of Hamilton and Bottas. “I hate to lose, but I’m well aware that Formula 1 needed a crazy race like this”

Hamilton is happy for Gasly, who after a difficult year stunt with his first victory in Formula 1. “Gasly is a very nice boy. I also thought Red Bull didn’t treat him very well in the year he was teammate of Verstappen, so he has my sympathy. A great victory, good for the sport.”

Gasly started in 2019 as a teammate of Max Verstappen. His promotion came quicker than expected, but Red Bull had a seat to fill after the surprising departure of Daniel Ricciardo to Renault.

However, the Frenchman was disappointed and despite encouraging words from team boss Christian Horner, Gasly was relegated to Toro Rosso in the summer break in favour of Verstappen’s current teammate Alex Albon.

“Gasly is doing very well this year with a car that is normally not good enough for these results”, continued Hamilton. “Red Bull will remember that they relegated him last year.”

Hamilton and the safety car

Hamilton, winner of five of the first seven grand prix of the year, lost the race mainly due to a striking moment halfway through the race. Kevin Magnussen was forced to pull over and parked his car just in front of the pit lane entrance.

The safety car came on the track, usually a moment for drivers to make a quick pit stop. Hamilton wanted to be the leader of the race first, but just before he entered the pit lane was closed. He went inside anyway and was later punished and ended up at the back of the field.

“The pit lane apparently closed, but we couldn’t see it from the pit wall”, Wolff acknowledged. It finally ruined Hamilton’s race.

“Hamilton also didn’t see that he wasn’t allowed in. He was also irritated. Somebody at our headquarters had seen it, but then it was too late.”

Hamilton didn’t like the punishment and didn’t understand much of it afterwards. “I find the punishment very severe. I didn’t intentionally do something wrong. This cost me thirty seconds and the race, but I have to accept it.”

Strong comeback

After the safety car had arrived on the track, the race was stopped for a while to safely remove Leclerc’s car. After that the race was restarted and Hamilton took his punishment. From the last place he finally fought his way to seventh place and six World Championship points. Because he had also set the fastest time he was allowed to add an extra World Championship point to his time.

“He drove well, caught up with half the field,” Wolff praised his pupil. “In the end he kept the damage to a minimum, but the feeling that we’ve taken the race out of our hands dominates of course”

Hamilton himself could live with his result. “I’ve been racing in Formula 1 for a long time and I’m still hungry, so actually I hate seventh place. I don’t like to lose and I’m not happy, but I also know that I learn the most on these days. I don’t know what happened with Max and Valtteri, but I’m happy that the damage is not so bad”