Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff has praised Lewis Hamilton’s drive to third place in Germany after wing damage had compromised his pace.
The Briton chased down Valtteri Bottas in the closing laps, using a three-stop schedule to make better use of supersoft tyres, while the Finn stopped only twice.
“For me it feels like a one-two,” said Wolff. “Because he was coming from P20, and recovering to where he did, considering there were some difficult early laps – it wasn’t like making five, or six, or seven positions in lap one, he was really working hard to get back to the front.
“How close was it? I think the misunderstanding with Jenson cost him quite some lap time. We were quite down on downforce on the front wing, and then at the end with the strategy going back to the option tyre, we knew the window was very narrow where the pace in that tyre was really good. Valtteri was just cold blooded at the end, and defended well.”
Wolff believes that without the damage Hamilton would have had the pace with which to challenge Bottas.
“I think the car could have had much more performance with the wing not damaged. I can’t really give you [a lap time loss], but he lost many, many points of downforce from the front wing.”
Asked by this writer if the team had considered changing the damaged nose, which would have cost around 12s, he said: “We had precise data on what the nose was looking like and how the nose was performing. And of course we were very much aware that there wasn’t structural damage on the front wing, just the front wing end plate, some of the fins. We decided that the front wing was not deteriorating any further, so we decided to keep it on.”