Toto Wolff has selected an unlikely highlight of the 2017 Formula 1 world championship by picking the Hungarian Grand Prix where Mercedes toiled behind a dominant Ferrari one-two but the result isn’t what the team boss focused on.
At the Hungaroring, Mercedes were thoroughly outshone by Ferrari at the tight and twisty circuit with the Italian manufacturer converting its front row lockout into a comfortable one-two finish to hand Sebastian Vettel a 24-point championship lead heading into the summer break over Lewis Hamilton.
But Wolff says the Mercedes ‘values’ shone through when Lewis Hamilton handed third place back to team-mate Valtteri Bottas on the final lap having been granted permission to pass the Finnish driver and attack the Ferrari duo after the pit stops despite late pressure from Max Verstappen.
With Hamilton unable to bridge the gap to the Ferraris for a clear passing opportunity, the British driver sacrificed his podium place to Bottas as part of the mid-race agreement, which to Wolff underlined the team’s togetherness having endured a turbulent few years with Hamilton fighting against Nico Rosberg.
“My Formula 1 highlight is probably Hungary,” Wolff said. “Which for me was a very difficult race and very difficult decision-making at the end of the race but somehow was important to reconfirm the values of the team.
“My personal highlight was the birth of my son, this goes beyond anything else.”
Initially speculation feared how conceding third place and a vital three championship points could come back to haunt Hamilton at the end of the season in the F1 world title race.
As it turned out, the Mercedes position switch did little to impact the drivers’ standings at the end of 2017 with Hamilton sealing the title with two rounds to spare while Bottas finished 12 points off of Vettel for the runner-up spot.