Mercedes director dismisses talk of Formula One clean sweep
Mercedes-GP motorsport director Toto Wolff feels he would be losing the plot if he starts thinking about his team winning all 19 grands prix this season.
The Brackley-based marque have made a perfect start to the campaign, dominating their rivals by taking the chequered flag in the opening five races, with Lewis Hamilton winning the last four.
It represents only the fifth time in Formula One history that a team has won at least the opening five races, with Williams doing likewise in 1992 and 1996, while Ferrari achieved the feat in 2004.
The record, however, is held by McLaren, who triumphed in the first 11 races of 1988. The marque eventually won 15 of 16 overall, the most-dominant season in F1 history.
There is already speculation that Mercedes will go one better and make it a clean sweep, given their performance advantage this season.
Wolff, however, all but dismissed the notion, even though Hamilton and teammate Nico Rosberg have claimed the top two spots at all five races.
“If you look at the performance now, then what comes to mind, you say, ‘Well, that never happened. Could it happen’?” he said.
“But then we know racing. There are 14 races to go and we haven’t had really difficult conditions in the race itself.
“We haven’t had safety car periods at the wrong moment, we haven’t had thunderstorms at the wrong time.
“[Hamilton and Rosberg] haven’t touched yet, which is eventually going to happen – or not, hopefully.
“So it’s much too early. Thinking about that would be really like losing the plot.”
One of the few negatives for Mercedes and Wolff is that Hamilton and Rosberg have been so far ahead of the rest of the field in the last four races that it has led to television companies ignoring them and focusing on the battle behind.
“Interestingly, we have seen that,” Wolff said. “Funnily enough, it was in Bahrain. Although we had that battle in the end, TV coverage, and the media value we have generated, was less than in previous races.
“So the question is: what do we do about that? Narrow the gap? No, it doesn’t function.
“I guess we have to swallow that and have a little less average media value, because I’d rather take a one-two.”
Mercedes are already over 100 points ahead of nearest rivals Red Bull Racing in the constructors’ championship, and Hamilton and Rosberg are comfortably clear in the drivers’ standings, but Wolff says there can be no let-up.
“In returning to the office on Monday, it was like Sunday never happened,” he said. “You have to have that mentality if you want to guarantee long-term sustainability of success.”
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Published: May 13, 2014 04:00 AM