Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has dismissed the suggestion Formula One rivals Ferrari favoured Sebastian Vettel by orchestrating his Monaco Grand Prix victory over teammate Kimi Raikkonen.
Polesitter Raikkonen led Sunday’s race until the pit stop phase when the Finn pitted in response to the early-stopping Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas, while Ferrari opted to leave Vettel out. Running for five laps in clean air, the German was able to post a succession of fast laps, enabling him to return to the track ahead of Raikkonen following his own stop.
Vettel denied the switch had been planned in order to boost his title hopes but Lewis Hamilton – who has dropped 25 points behind Vettel in the championship – believes it is “clear” Ferrari has chosen to favour Vettel in this year’s title fight. Wolff, however, does not see how Ferrari could have known such a strategy was guaranteed to work.
“It wasn’t clear how the tyre would perform,” Wolff explained. “They needed to pit one of the two drivers and put one on the super-soft and how it all planned out, the super-soft was not quick enough and Sebastian was able to pull out some stunning laps on the used ultra-soft and that gave him the advantage over Kimi – I don’t think they saw that coming. At the end of the day, it was the right result for the team and for the driver championship but I do not think it was orchestrated.
“They are finally where we were back in the days where you finish one and two and have to explain why the right guy won,” he added. “First of all, they deserved the win, they had the quickest car out there so as a team result, the one and two is good and congratulations from our side. I think we need to give them credit.”
In what turned out to be a difficult weekend for Mercedes, Valtteri Bottas’ fourth place finish was the best the reigning world champions could manage, as Hamilton recovered from 13th on the grid to cross the line seventh, following his early qualifying exit. Wolff says he hopes Monaco will prove to be Mercedes’ worst race of 2017.
“Our target would be that it’s the worst race of the season hopefully, an outlier like we’ve had in Singapore. It is just about bringing the tyres into the right window and we have a fast car but she doesn’t like the tyres. That is something which we need to understand why that is because Ferrari is able to put the car on the floor and it goes from straight from the beginning until the end.
“Both drivers seem to be equally competitive or uncompetitive and that has been different all through the season for us. I have such confidence in the group of people that the more miles we do the more data we will collect and the better we will understand. In terms of looking for, I don’t know if we will need more difficult weekends or not. Normally, the longer it goes the better it gets for us.”