Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff has said he felt like title rivals Red Bull handed them a free “get out of jail for free card” after the latter failed to capitalise on what was a tumultuous weekend in Imola.
Written by Andrew Lwanga, Edited by Daniel Yi
At the end of what was an enthralling Emilia Romagna Grand Prix which Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes left Imola still ahead in both the Drivers and Constructors championship. Halfway through the race this seemed less than likely as Hamilton made an uncharacteristic mistake whilst lapping George Russell and ended up in the gravel. Although he was still in the race he was firmly out of contention for higher points positions as he was lapped by Verstappen. A few minutes later Russell collided with Bottas knocking out the second Mercedes car.
Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff. (Photo Credits: AFP/FIA)
It seemed to be over for Mercedes but lady luck was with the Silver Arrows as the collision between Russell and Bottas brought out the red flag, allowing Hamilton to unlap himself. The Briton went to produce a great comeback drive to regain second place where he was prior to his mistake and crucially earning 19 very valuable points.
George Russell of Williams and Valterri Bottas of Mercedes crashing out after their collision. (Photo Credits: Imago)
This means that despite the woes that befell Mercedes, they remain ahead of Redbull by 7 points in the Constructors Championship (Mercedes have a total of 60 points to Red Bull’s 53) and Hamilton is 1 point of ahead of Max Verstappen in the Driver’s Championship by virtue of the fastest lap the defending world champion achieved at Imola.
Speaking on the matter, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said “To come away leading both championships almost felt like a get out of jail free card, because our rivals didn’t maximise the opportunity we gave them. It just proves what a challenging season we have ahead of us and how quickly things can turn around in Formula 1.”
Red Bull started the season in Bahrain with the seemingly faster package but a brilliant strategy from the Mercedes pitwall and a masterclass in defending allowed Hamilton to win the season opener. Although Verstappen was able to secure the race win at the following race in Imola a mistake from teammate Sergio Perez meant that Verstappen’s points were the only one scored for Red Bull.
As Formula 1 continues on to Portimao for the Portuguese Grand Prix, both Mercedes and Red Bull cannot afford to make costly mistakes. With Mercedes already having made them and Red Bull failing to capitalise on those mistakes, the third part in this saga ought to be interesting one as well.