He is among the most respected names in the F1 paddock. There are drivers. There are have-been drivers who turn experts and take to the mic like a fish to water. And then there are astute team bosses like Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, who, perhaps, couldn’t have been happier at the conclusion of the 58-lap contest at the season opener at Melbourne.
March 17, 2019 might have had 10 teams and 20 drivers participating for top honours at the pinnacle of F1 racing but only 1 man topped them all and sported the biggest smile: Austrian team principal of Mercedes, Toto Wolff.
In winning the opening race of the 21-racing weekends, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas not only usurped the two Ferraris and beat his own teammate but established Mercedes’ absolute supremacy in the 2019 opener at Australia.
But what might have come across as a huge surprise to all would’ve been the rather listless fortunes that Ferrari, Toto Wolff’s biggest rival contented with.
Truth be told, it can’t be said that Sebastian Vettel, P4, followed by Charles Leclerc, P5, made for a show stopping performance as what might have been expected out of the sport’s most fashionable, powerful and renowned team.
But this rather sedate performance, did after all, compel Toto Wolff to exclaim, “We were surprised Ferrari didn’t have any pace at all”
That said, what are Ferrari going to do about it, one might wonder?
But at this point in time, it can be said for certain that Ferrari’s loss (of speed) as seen in Vettel’s failure to stop Verstappen in the duo’s battle for third (toward the closing stages) is most certainly Mercedes’ gain.
On top of that, that Valtteri Bottas is back to his winning ways, having endured a dry run last year is the finest way to begin a season where Mercedes have fired the opening salvo.
To quote Wolff directly, it’s worthwhile to note his observations, “ “I just remember his early years when he was the benchmark and would destroy everyone. When he came back from the winter he told me ‘I’m back’,” he added.”