Toto Wolff never shies away from showing his emotions in the heat of battle, but his animated response to the conclusion of Sunday’s Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix could be more telling than his usual fist-slamming reactions.
Wolff was shown on the F1 world feed clapping, jumping from his seat and bashing his fists against the pit wall as soon as Lewis Hamilton honored team orders and swapped positions with Valtteri Bottas just before the finish line. The Mercedes-AMG Petronas team principal’s response seemingly signified how much was riding on those orders.
During the second stint, Mercedes told Bottas, running P3 at the time, to let Hamilton through so he could attempt to get by Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn complied, under the assurance that Hamilton would return the position if he couldn’t pass Raikkonen. (Overtaking is notoriously difficult at the Hungaroring, so Bottas hadn’t been able to mount an attack on the Ferrari driver.)
Many watching the race — ourselves included — were half expecting Hamilton not to relinquish P3 to his teammate, as both are locked in a three-way championship fight. The fact that he did, however, is a reflection of the productive relationship between he and Bottas, and likely is the reason Wolff couldn’t contain himself.
The Mercedes boss had spent four seasons playing referee between Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, and is used to the former putting his own interests ahead of his teammate’s. Wolff therefore probably was a bit surprised — and extremely relieved — when the three-time world champion conceded the last spot on the podium.
He has been a strong proponent of retaining Bottas beyond 2017, but although Wolff is a Mercedes executive, there’s no guarantee he will get his wish. The chances that he will, though, likely improved significantly after Bottas and Hamilton showed in Budapest that they can put the team first — even if it hurts their own title hopes.
Thumbnail photo via Mercedes-AMG Petronas
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