The final race weekend is a perfect time to sum up the whole season, share the expectations on the next one and remember some good and bad moments of the year, what teams’ principals did at the today’s press conference.
After winning the Championship Mercedes had a very weak result at previous stage in Brazil. Toto Wolff missed that race – by the way since Williams times, Barcelona 2012 – and it seems the team couldn’t cope with the mission without Toto’s control. Mr. Wolff told how it was to watch events at Interlagos from afar.
"It was weird. I did it [missed the race] because there’s just so much business going on at the moment and I had a Formula E weekend the following weekend and obviously Abu Dhabi and things needed to be done," – Toto explained.
"It was also for me an experiment to see how I would take it. I know the team is perfectly capable in doing that without me. There were voices that it would actually be beneficial for me not distracting anybody around the racetrack. So, what happened, would have happened with me there. I was hoping that it would be a perfect weekend and that I could miss some of the bad ones next year – but at the moment I am off that plan."
Speaking about Formula E championship, last weekend there was an opening E-Prix of Formula E Championship in Saudi Arabia, which Toto Wolff visited to support Mercedes team and today told about his experience.
"I really enjoyed it, I must say. I’ve never been to Saudi Arabia before and launching our Mercedes Formula E journey was very special. The crowds were phenomenal, seeing how this country is opening up – something I didn’t expect in that way. And the racing is very different to Formula One, clearly you can say that. For me it’s Super Mario Kart with real drivers, but it’s absolutely valid to give that a chance," – Toto said.
Despite Mercedes has already taken titles in both standings, obviously this year we had a close battle in Top 3. And moreover next year this battle could become even much closer. Toto said he doesn’t think it’s going to be the kind of 10 race wins or 12 race wins per team for next year any more.
"It’s fair to say that there are three teams capable of winning races today and probably winning championships if things are being put together. McLaren has massively caught up, probably the steepest performance slope of all teams and will be there or thereabouts, in my opinion. So, yeah, I see this very much as being a much tougher season."
Meanwhile the tough battle is still continuing in the midfield. Heading Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Renault and Toro Rosso are involved in a fight for the 5th place in Constructors Cup, there are just eight points between them. The Renault principal Cyril Abiteboul doesn't hide that he believes in successful finishing of the season for the team.
"I’m very confident. We were competitive last year here. I think that indeed Toro Rosso with different circumstance that they’ve benefited, and that also managed to make happen in the close fight but I think it’s also fair to say that, on average, we are a clear P5," – Cyril told.
"The target was to be P4 so we have not reached that target but average we deserve that P5."
The one of the hot topic this weekend is Nicholas Latifi’s deal with Williams for 2020. Claire Williams told why the team chose him.
"I think it was probably a fairly obvious choice. We’re pleased that we’re able to make an announcement. It’s been a long time coming and probably an obvious choice for us. Nicholas has been with us now this year, as our reserve driver. He’s done six FP1s for us and some test sessions. He’ll run next week at the Abu Dhabi test, and he’s just become a really great part of the team," – Claire explained.
"He’s got a great personality – and from a track performance perspective, he’s done a good job in the F2 campaign this year. He’s obviously hoping to close out P2 this weekend, and I think he’ll be instrumental in driving the team forward. He’s got a very similar personality to George, and George has proved how motivating for everybody in the team, and I think Nicholas will fully mirror that next year."
Also teams’ representatives remembered the whole season and shared their best moments of this year.
Cyril Abiteboul: "I guess my favourite moment has been qualifying in Montreal with Daniel in P4, I think it was, something like that."
Zak Brown: "Well, it would have to be Brazil, wouldn’t it, with it being our first podium and clinching fourth in the championship so that and Lando qualifying in Q3 in his first race in Australia and us coming out and being in Q3."
Mattia Binotto: "Many moments. Obviously this season we have been celebrating our 90 years of Scuderia Ferrari so I would say at first the event where we celebrated in Milan, Piazza del Duomo, with all our fans and tifosi. And in the same week, let’s say the first row on the grid in Monza."
Toto Wolff: "For me the… I don’t want to talk about the best moment because the overshadowing event was Niki’s death. That is kind of the big theme of the season for us, so I was thinking whilst they were answering when I had a moment which I felt like being the best and I didn’t, of course… we are very grateful to win the championship but this one moment just overshadows everything else."
Claire Williams: "Mine probably, as you would expect probably, didn’t come on the circuit this year but for me, the real highlight has been our pit stop crew. You probably will track progress… unfortunately Red Bull have just pipped us to the best pit stop and crew for the year but the way that our pit stop team have worked this year has been… gives a capsule of the resilience that our team has shown throughout the entire year."