BARCELONA: Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff on Sunday thanked his engineers for a successful upgrades package -- but warned the team to stay realistic after a double podium finish at the Spanish Grand Prix.
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and team-mate George Russell finished a strong second and third behind defending champion Max Verstappen of Red Bull, boosting team morale after a challenging run of results.
Their success on Sunday lifted them to second ahead of Aston Martin behind dominant leaders Red Bull in the constructors’ championship.
But a happy Wolff said he was keen to keep their big improvement in perspective and for the team to keep their feet on the ground.
“I’m very happy for the hard work that has been done,“ said Wolff. “We took some decisions to go in another direction.
“We changed so many parts, with many variables we don’t understand. And it was a risky move...
“I think we needed that shock at the beginning of the season -- that shook it up. But now you can see where the benchmark is --- and it’s not where we want to be.”
A revitalised Hamilton, who is in negotiations to extend his contract which ends this year, was delighted with the result.
“George did a fantastic job and we have scored great points for the team. The factory should feel proud of the amazing work done to make this step for this weekend and last.
“The car felt great. Now, we have to make more steps to close the gap! This was more than I expected this weekend.”
He added that it was a good signal to be fast at the Circuit de Catalunya.
“As long as I’ve been racing here, if you’re quick here you should be quick elsewhere,“ he said. “But these cars have a narrow working window.
“But we have a very strong team. And George and I are punching out the results, weekend in and out, so now we will do all we can to catch the Red Bulls.”
Asked about his personal motivation levels, he said: “Yes, I’m flat out and I’m not lifting.”
Russell admitted he was surprised to finish on the podium after starting 12th.
“The car feels better and I’m delighted to get to third. We have to keep on pushing now.” -AFP