Hamilton’s engine had been close to failure, and the engineers had to reduce the power remotely and cool the temperatures
Mercedes won their fifth successive Formula One constructors’ championship on Sunday, joining glamour team Ferrari in the record books and rendering team boss Toto Wolff temporarily speechless.
The Austrian revealed that Jean Todt, now president of the governing FIA but previously Michael Schumacher’s boss at Ferrari, had called after the Brazilian Grand Prix to congratulate him.
“He said ‘it is an honour to welcome you to the five times club’. Which is unbelievable to even hear that. I am speechless,” Wolff said, even if he was not lost for words for long.
While Ferrari won six team titles from 1999 to 2004, they and Mercedes are the only ones to have won five successive ‘doubles’ – the drivers’ and constructors titles together.
Next season will see Mercedes attempt to break new boundaries, with Sunday’s winner Lewis Hamilton also chasing his sixth title to move closer to Schumacher’s seven, but there is plenty to celebrate before then.
Wolff said 2018 had been the toughest of them all, with Ferrari mounting a major challenge, and also the most satisfying.
“It was the most difficult and that’s why the relief now is the most I’ve ever felt in the team,” he said.
Wolff said Hamilton’s engine had been close to failure, and the engineers had to reduce the power remotely and cool the temperatures.
Every lap to the chequered flag was filled with tension before, finally, “everything broke loose”.
The team’s pit lane celebrations were so wild that one of the barriers collapsed, bringing an ecstatic Hamilton back to earth with a bump.
When Hamilton moved from McLaren in 2013 there were plenty of pundits predicting the Briton would regret it, but now Mercedes, along with Ferrari, are the team every driver would love to race for.
The battle has ebbed and flowed this year, with Ferrari winning the first two races before Mercedes came back and were then overtaken again. “We had a hell of a fight on our hands throughout the season with Ferrari,” said Wolff.
“And being able to win a fifth consecutive championship is something we wouldn’t have dreamt of six years ago.
“Equalling a Ferrari record that seemed unachievable is something I feel so grateful and fortunate (for),” he added.
“I can remember before I joined Formula One, those Ferrari years with Jean at the helm and Michael and many others that contributed to the team’s success was something I really looked up to and admired.” Reuters