"Astonishing" Hamilton could have won in Brazil - Wolff

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Jonathan Noble
By: Jonathan Noble
Nov 13, 2017, 9:32 AM

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff reckons Lewis Hamilton had the potential to win Formula 1's Brazilian Grand Prix from the pitlane after his "astonishing" drive that just fell short of a podium.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08, passes Felipe Massa, Williams FW40
Toto Wolff, Executive Director Mercedes AMG F1, Niki Lauda, Non-Executive Chairman, Mercedes AMG F1., Mercedes management celebrate pole for Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1
Toto Wolff, Executive Director Mercedes AMG F1, with Rubens Barrichello
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08

The world champion had to start from the pits at Interlagos following a crash in qualifying that prompted the fitting of a new specification engine.

He made good use of the extra power available to scythe through the field and at one point looked like he had the pace to win, before he lost time lapping backmarkers and found himself held back by third-place Kimi Raikkonen.

But with just 5.4 seconds separating Hamilton from race winner Sebastian Vettel at the end, it would not have been impossible for a few minor changes in circumstance to have delivered a very different result.

When asked by Motorsport.com if he felt a win had been on the cards for Hamilton at any point, Wolff said: "Yes, I think a win would have been possible.

"He was the quickest guy out there. But you must remember that Sebastian was managing the pace at every time of the race, apart from the last laps. So we haven't probably seen the real race."

Wolff said that the team had sat down for its strategy meeting on race morning and the best case scenario in a normal race was to Hamilton to finish fourth.

"When we discussed it in the morning, we thought that what would be a realistic target with a safety car would be P4.

"We had the safety car so that helped us a little bit. But the gap to Ferraris was too close to have achieved much more."

Even though Hamilton matched the best hopes of the team with his fourth place finished, Wolff was still hugely impressed with what the Briton had done.

"For me it was the best fourth place I've ever seen," he said. "If you consider starting from the pitlane and ending up 5.4 seconds behind the leader, it is quite an astonishing drive."

 

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