Mercedes finished first and second in the 2022 Sao Paulo Grand Prix, and team principal Toto Wolff lauded his drivers for “never stopped believing” in their ability to return to form after a slow start to the season.
Mercedes spent much of the season battling severe porpoising and seeking to unlock performance after falling behind Red Bull and Ferrari with an initially problematic W13 developed for F1’s all-new technical rules.
Success at Interlagos came after years of improvement and many podium places, with George Russell finishing ahead of Lewis Hamilton to earn the win and the thanks of Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.
“It demonstrates the team’s capacity for growth, which fills me with immense pride, since there were times when we were certain in our grasp of the material. As Wolff noted, “there were setbacks, and certainly weekends that were very challenging, like Spa [when Mercedes qualified nearly two seconds behind the pace].
“It illustrates the attitude and ideals of the team that we never ceased thinking that we were on the correct track, while conceding that we didn’t always comprehend everything.”
For the ceremony, Wolff returned to Mercedes’ Brackley headquarters, where he said, “In a sense, I feel extremely pleased for what we have done. Not being there makes me feel even more proud of the organization we’ve developed and the dedicated members of our team that helped us prevail.
While Mercedes dominated the weekend’s race against Red Bull and Ferrari in Sao Paulo, Wolff revealed that a water leak almost lost Russell his first F1 victory.
It would have added to Russell’s disappointment after his stand-in effort for Mercedes at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, in which he led for the most of the race until a pit-stop mix-up cost him the lead.
When asked about Russell’s win and the opportunity he had two years ago but passed up, Wolff said, “I don’t know if it’s redemption, but I think he deserved to win in Bahrain and we let him down with the car, and that’s why today was… this victory makes us happy, because he could’ve had one on the clock two years ago and he didn’t. For the first time, he has achieved success.
By finishing first and second, Mercedes have closed the gap to second-place Ferrari in the constructors’ standings to just 19 points with 44 still up for grabs in this weekend’s season-ending race in Abu Dhabi.
“As an aside, we had a water leak on the vehicle the whole race, and it was unclear if we could really get it to the conclusion. We had a conference call about it, and we decided to let him drive all the way to the conclusion without water. This used everything was available to attempt to keep it from overheating and complete the race.