Toto Wolff knows the fight for second is on

In the closing laps of the Singapore Grand Prix, a bold strategy call from Mercedes seemed to be paying off.

Then in a flash, dreams of a double podium for the Silver Arrows were shattered when George Russell, running in third, slid off the track and into the barrier. Teammate Lewis Hamilton secured a spot on the podium with his eventual third-place finish, but in an instant, thoughts of a stunning win for the team were vaporized.

That, coupled with the victory from Carlos Sainz Jr., means that the fight for second is on.

And Toto Wolff knows it.

“We lost some ground in the Constructors’ Championship to Ferrari at the last race. We are looking forwards not back, though,” said the Mercedes Team Boss ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix. “Our focus is on maximising the package we have and scoring as many points as possible. If we do so, I’m confident we can extend our advantage.”

Reflecting on the Singapore Grand Prix, Wolff began his preview of the Japanese Grand Prix by praising the entire team for their approach in Marina Bay, down to the strategy call to pit both drivers late, sacrificing track position for fresh tyres.

“It was a thrilling Sunday night in Singapore. Although the result wasn’t quite what we were hoping for, there are plenty of positives we can take away. We were bold and aggressive with our strategy calls,” said Wolff. “The pace of the car all weekend was strong. We executed well as a team and gave it a real shot for victory as the racers we are.”

He then shared praise for both drivers, including Russell who was left heartbroken after his late-stage crash.

“It was a great drive to the podium from Lewis. He showed impressive pace throughout the race, especially the final stint. P3 was a deserved reward for his efforts. For George, he’d performed faultlessly all weekend,” said Wolff. “He was giving it absolutely everything in the search for victory. That’s absolutely what we want to see. It was a small mistake on the final lap and that will make it even more painful for him. I know he will bounce back strongly.”

As for the Japanese Grand Prix, Wolff is hoping that the team puts forth another competitive effort.

“We have another race in just a few days’ time. Japan is always a unique event with very passionate fans. The track is incredibly challenging, and the drivers love racing on it. The margins were so close in Singapore, so we’ll be aiming for another competitive showing in Suzuka.”

They’ll need it, because the fight for second is truly engaged. Mercedes enters the weekend with 289 points on the season, just 24 points ahead of Ferrari, who have 265 points on the year. As you can see from this graph from Formula1Points, the Scuderia really cut into Mercedes’s lead in Singapore, thanks to the win from Sainz and the fourth-place finish from Charles Leclerc:

Another result like Singapore this weekend, and that gap will narrow even further.

Something Wolff and Mercedes truly want to avoid.

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