Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff had to watch Red Bull’s Max Verstappen drive to an easy win at the Mexico City Grand Prix when Lewis Hamilton followed him home in P2. But even though Mercedes can’t keep up with Red Bull’s pace on race day, Wolff says there is still everything to be won in the remaining four races of the 2021 season.
Wolff was delighted on Saturday when Valtteri Bottas surprisingly took pole position ahead of Hamilton at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, for Mercedes’ first start in the front row – yes, her first start in the front row – in Mexico since 2016.
But Bottas’ race failed in the first corners after being whirled around by Daniel Ricciardo – and although Hamilton resisted Sergio Perez’s pressure to finish second, he finished more than 16 seconds behind Verstappen as the Dutchman gained his title lead The reigning champions improved 19 points.
READ MORE: Hamilton says he “gave absolutely everything” but can’t explain the loss of tempo in the Mexico defeat
“I think it was damage control for Lewis and it was a really tough but great ride to be honest, to hold onto second place,” said Wolff. “We were probably only good enough for P3 today, but he managed to keep second place.
“When we got here, we didn’t expect to beat Red Bull, so yesterday’s qualifying result came as a surprise,” added Wolff. “They probably went backwards and we went forward, but the reflection of the change in pace is what we saw in the race. We never won the win and therefore to win P2 means to win P2. “
2021 Mexico City Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton reacts to P2 placement in Mexico
There was more damage control for Mercedes than Bottas managed to set the fastest lap late and steal that point from Verstappen before finishing in 15th – Bottas also survived an 11.7 second pit stop to alleviate his misery in Mexico aggravate.
But Wolff openly admitted that the silver lining was a bit thin and said on Sunday evening: “On Valtteri’s side, as good as it was yesterday, it started to go wrong with Turn 1. Then obviously the rim got stuck on the axle [in the pit stop] and from then on it really took that one point away from Max [which] was not a great consolation. “
READ MORE: The Mexican polesitter Bottas laments the “very difficult” afternoon after ruining contact with Ricciardo in the first round
Apart from the fact that Verstappen expanded his lead in the drivers ‘standings, Red Bull was only able to move one point closer to the Silver Arrows in the constructors’ table with Mercedes in Mexico, which exceeded 40 to 18 points.
Mexico City Grand Prix 2021: Bottas and Ricciardo collide at the start
When asked whether the tide would irrevocably begin to turn in the direction of Verstappen and Red Bull four races to go – in Brazil, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi – Wolff remained indomitable.
“We’re leaving the track here that we probably considered to be one of the worst for us,” said Wolff. “We’re going to Brazil, it wasn’t much better in the past, but we at least believe that we can have a solid car there that is closer to Red Bull than what we had here.
READ MORE: “It can turn very quickly” – Verstappen insists he doesn’t think about the title despite the dominant win in Mexico
“I’m a pretty realistic person, but I love motorsport because anything can happen,” he added. “None of us will ever leave this track with the mentality that this is going away from us. There are four races left, four wins to be won, four DNFs to suffer and we will just keep fighting.
“We know we have a great team. Our car was exceptionally good in Turkey and I think we all have to win. If you look at the mathematical probability, I’d rather be 19 points ahead than behind, but that’s how it is. “