McLaren's 2007 meltdown plays on Mercedes mind

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says the McLaren meltdown at the end of 2007 means his team cannot afford to relax and think the Formula 1 championship battle is over.

McLaren's 2007 meltdown plays on Mercedes mind

A run of four consecutive victories for Lewis Hamilton has left him 67 points clear of Sebastian Vettel in the drivers' standings, with only four races remaining.

If he wins in Austin this weekend, with Vettel no higher than third, then that will be enough for Hamilton to claim his fifth world title.

But despite the strong position the team is in, Wolff fears that there is always the prospect for something unexpected to happen – and he cites 2007 as a classic example.

Back then, under the old points structure, Hamilton held a 17-point advantage over Kimi Raikkonen with just two races of the season to go, meaning he just needed one third place to claim the title.

But a crash on the way into the pits in China, and a gearbox problem in the final round in Brazil, left the door open for Raikkonen to take the crown.

Speaking about the impact of the sizeable advantage Mercedes has heading in to this weekend's race in Austin, Wolff said: "It doesn't change anything. In 2007, two races to go, 45 points in today's points, and [Lewis] lost the championship.

"Would anybody ever have thought that you could lost 45 points in two races? Impossible.

"Racing happens on Sunday, and not necessarily the quickest car wins. We had a moment in the summer where we weren't the quickest car, and we scored some victories.

"I wouldn't want to take the foot off the pedal because a DNF and a freak race, and it's all vanished. It doesn't change."

While Mercedes has worked hard since its defeat in the Belgian Grand Prix to ensure it has maximised its opportunities, it acknowledges there is little it can do to avoid freak circumstances coming in to play.

Wolff added: "The freak incidents happen everywhere and a DNF and a consequent bad result suddenly wipes out a large chunk of your points.

"I know from a probability standpoint it doesn't look like it could happen, but this is motor racing, it's a sport, anything can happen. I don't want to even think about him breaking a finger. I mean, anything can happen in motor racing.

"I don't want to dwell too much about it because this is bad karma, too, so let's just get it done. Let's go to Austin, let's have a strong race weekend and then hopefully seal the championship."

Toto Wolff, Mercedes AMG F1 Director of Motorsport, celebrates pole for Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1

Toto Wolff, Mercedes AMG F1 Director of Motorsport, celebrates pole for Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1

Photo by: Steve Etherington / LAT Images

shares
comments
Hakkinen would only return to racing "to kick some butt"

Previous article

Hakkinen would only return to racing "to kick some butt"

Next article

Renault warns F1 could lose a manufacturer over costs

Renault warns F1 could lose a manufacturer over costs
Load comments
The details that boosted Verstappen and held back Hamilton in Austin Prime

The details that boosted Verstappen and held back Hamilton in Austin

As the 2021 Formula 1 title battle winds towards its climax, the United States GP added another thrilling act in the Lewis Hamilton-Max Verstappen battle. Although Hamilton aced the start, Verstappen and Red Bull took the initiative with strategy and were richly rewarded, despite Mercedes' best efforts as the race went down to the wire

US Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

US Grand Prix Driver Ratings

On a baking hot afternoon in Texas, Formula 1 drivers were tested to their limits. As the pressure on the title contending squads reaches an ever-greater level of intensity, the foremost challengers again showed their class, but were outshone by a standout drive from the upper midfield

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert Prime

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert

It's 50 years since Jo Siffert was killed in his prime at Brands Hatch. The Swiss scored just two world championship wins in a Formula 1 career spent largely with privateer teams, but showed on numerous occasions in single-seaters and in sportscars with Porsche that he could beat any of the best drivers of his era given the right equipment.

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
Why a misunderstood Kimi Raikkonen will thrive in retirement Prime

Why a misunderstood Kimi Raikkonen will thrive in retirement

Three years on from Kimi Raikkonen's last Grand Prix victory at Austin, he is now six races away from ending the longest Formula 1 career in history. His friend and former Ice1 Racing rally team PR man Anthony Peacock explains why there’s nobody quite like the 2007 world champion and why F1 will miss him (but he won’t miss it).

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
How Verstappen has become F1 champion material Prime

How Verstappen has become F1 champion material

As Red Bull and Honda go all-out for victory in the Japanese engine manufacturer’s last season of its latest Formula 1 dalliance, Max Verstappen finds himself thrust into a compelling title fight with Lewis Hamilton. He told OLEG KARPOV about his evolution into a world championship contender and why Red Bull's no compromise ethos suits him down to the ground

Formula 1
Oct 23, 2021
Why long-run times should please Red Bull in Austin F1 battle Prime

Why long-run times should please Red Bull in Austin F1 battle

Mercedes has been on a roll of late in the ultra-tight fight to win the 2021 Formula 1 world championship. It started off well in practice at Austin for this weekend’s US Grand Prix, but Red Bull got closer as Friday unfolded and even seemed to find an edge in one critical area of what seems set to be set to be another close contest.

Formula 1
Oct 23, 2021
The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen Prime

The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen

The 2021 Formula 1 title battle is finely poised with six races remaining, as just six points separate championship leader Max Verstappen from seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton. In such a closely-fought season, the outcome could hinge on several small factors playing the way of Red Bull or Mercedes

Formula 1
Oct 22, 2021
Can Whitmarsh appointment help Aston succeed where its F1 rivals failed? Prime

Can Whitmarsh appointment help Aston succeed where its F1 rivals failed?

Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll is determined to make the group a billion-dollar business. MARK GALLAGHER analyses his latest play – bringing former McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh into the fold

Formula 1
Oct 22, 2021