Mercedes Formula 1 chief Toto Wolff believes Lewis Hamilton’s rapid pace on the Ultrasoft tyre helped force Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel into his race-ending mistake in Sunday’s German Grand Prix.
Starting 14th on the grid, Hamilton took a sensational victory at Hockenheim after seeing Vettel crash out in damp conditions while running eight seconds clear of the field.
Prior to Vettel’s crash, Hamilton had cut the gap to the Ferrari driver down from 24 seconds to just 12 in the space of seven laps, finding time on his fresh set of Ultrasoft tyres as light rain fell on the circuit.
While Wolff was reluctant to take satisfaction out of Vettel’s demise, he agreed that Hamilton’s pace did most likely play a part in forcing the error.
“Sebastian in the front knew that he needed to continue to drive fast in order to not compromise his race situation. That led to the mistake, I guess,” Wolff said.
“It was an error, but the feeling I have is that as much as we enjoy winning and we fight hard on-track and we are rivals, I can relate how that feels and it’s not nice.
“We need to find the right balance between attacking and keeping the lead and that’s coming from behind and in the same way keeping the car safe on track, and that is not always easy. Today that went against him.”
Vettel’s off, coupled with Hamilton’s victory, see the F1 world drivers’ championship swing back to the Mercedes driver who now holds a 17-point advantage over his fellow four-time world champion.