Toto Wolff reacts to Lewis Hamilton championship hit as Valtteri Bottas spins at Mexico GP

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has described Lewis Hamilton’s race at the Mexican Grand Prix as “damage limitation” as the seven-time world champion fell further behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship fight. Hamilton started exactly where he finished in second after chasing down his team-mate towards Turn 1 in Mexico City, with Verstappen adding an 11th win to Red Bull’s season tally.

The Mercedes pair were caught napping whilst fighting for the lead, as Red Bull’s Verstappen went round the outside of both drivers and took the lead of the race into Turn 1. Bottas was sandwiched coming into the first corner and was subsequently clipped by McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and spun round, tumbling to the back of the order.

It meant that Hamilton had to hold off the Red Bull of Sergio Perez on his own, whilst trying to chase down the leader in the dying moments of the race.

Hamilton crossed the line in second, between Verstappen and Perez, with Red Bull adding a haul of points onto their tally in the Constructors’ Championship, which Mercedes now leading by just a single point.

Bottas crossed the line in 15th, with the consultation of denying Red Bull a point for fastest lap.

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However, after finishing outside of the top 10, the Finn was also not eligible for the point, leaving team boss Wolff frustrated. 

“You have to congratulate Red Bull because the pace was just on another level,” Mercedes boss Toto Wolff told Sky Sports F1. “I don’t think we could have won the race even if we had stayed ahead in the first corner because they could have driven circles around the pit-stops.

“So in the end I think for Lewis’ championship it was damage limitation, as for the constructor Valtteri spinning out Turn 1 was just very painful.

“I don’t know what they did wrong in qualifying and the pace came towards us, but this is the pace we’ve seen on Friday. It’s worse than we had hoped, but we have to take it on the chin.”

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Verstappen now leads the wat by 19 points over Hamilton with just four races remaining in the 2021 world championship.

With important points dropped, Wolff believes Bottas’ and Hamilton’s first corner strategy was less than ideal

“That should not happen,” adds Wolff.  “We had two cars in front and seemed to opened up the sea for Max to come around the outside.

The spin afterwards when there could have been a third or fourth place is annoying to say the least.

“Overall it’s a day to forget for us. But we have to take the positives, Lewis I thought drove a brilliant race with the equipment he was given, holding on in the way he did for P2.

That is really the highlight for me today. Now it’s about picking ourselves up.”

Hamilton meanwhile was left disappointed, adding: “I gave it absolutely everything and it was a great fight with Sergio at the end, I was able to at least get second.

“It shows how fast car their car is when Sergio is that close behind me and able to follow that closely. He did a great job and he was applying that pressure and just kept going… I really enjoyed the race still.”

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