Mercedes believe they still have a chance of securing Lewis Hamilton’s eighth world championship and have vowed to keep fighting. The team principal, Toto Wolff, said the title can still be won despite Hamilton’s rival Max Verstappen opening a significant lead after his win at the Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday.
Red Bull’s Verstappen dominated completely at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, winning by 16 seconds and solidly beating Hamilton into second place. In doing so, the Dutchman extended his lead in the championship to 19 points with just four races remaining. Hamilton conceded afterwards that Mercedes could not match the pace of the Red Bull and stressed that they had to find more speed if he was to have any chance of narrowing the gap.
Wolff remains convinced the title race is far from over. “I’m a pretty realistic person, but I love motor racing, because anything can happen,” he said. “None of us are ever going to leave this circuit with the mentality of this is going away from us. There’s four races to go, four wins to take, four DNFs to suffer. And we will just continue fighting.”
Hamilton has only five wins to Verstappen’s nine this season and last won at the Russian GP, four races ago. Mercedes had expected to be outpaced by Red Bull in Mexico, but ominously Verstappen was also quicker at the previous round, the US GP, a race Mercedes have dominated in the past.
In the last two races Mercedes’ lead in the constructors’ championship has been cut from 36 points to one, but Wolff still believes their car has the potential to take the title to the wire through the remaining four races in Brazil, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.
“We know we have a great team. Our car was exceptionally good in Turkey. And I think we have all to win,” he said. “But when you look at the mathematical probability, obviously I’d rather be 19 points ahead than behind.”
Red Bull have shown strong form in Brazil previously, and a win there for Verstappen would leave Hamilton with a mountain to climb but their team principal Christian Horner is taking nothing for granted after Mexico.
“There are still 107 points available,” he said “So there’s a long way to go. Reliability is going to play a crucial role, maximising every weekend, strategy and pitstops.”