‘Magic call’ set up Hamilton’s win, says Wolff


Lewis Hamilton’s win at the Spanish Grand Prix was set up by a “a magic call”, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said after the event on Sunday.

Hamilton slipped from pole to second at the start, recovered and passed Vettel’s Ferrari to secure his second win of the season and reduce the German’s lead to six points in the title race.

Led by chief strategist James Vowles, Mercedes was spot on with its tactics and Hamilton followed them to the T.

While Vettel pitted early for a new set of soft tyres to end his first stint, Mercedes chose to switch to their plan and kept both Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas out for longer stints before Hamilton came in for medium tyres. It was up to Bottas to block the frustrated Vettel from gaining the lead.

“That was beautiful for us,” said Wolff.

“At that stage we planned to do the opposite to Sebastian – and then the magic call was the one to pit Hamilton, at a time when it looked like the VSC would end, so Sebastian couldn’t react…

“We timed it perfectly – credit to James and the strategists – and that pit-stop obviously was much faster than Sebastian’s afterwards.

“Then it was down to Lewis to pass him on track which he did on the straight and taking the lead.”

That move, which Vettel described as “like a train” passing him, left Hamilton in front for the final stint of 32 laps on soft tyres while Vettel, on mediums, toiled to stay in touch.

“In the end, it was all about balancing on a knife’s edge,” said Wolff. “You want to have a gap, in the lead, to avoid the undercut, but on the other side we had to make the tyres last 32 laps.

“It was a combination of team work, strategy and Lewis’s driving.”

Here’s what Hamilton said: “It’s definitely one of the favourites, if not the favourite battle, I’m having.

“I’m in a much better position than last year so 2017 is a much better year so far.”

“It’s great to have a battle — and a fight with another team is so much nicer and more enjoyable because there’s no tension within our team.

“At the last race, when Valtteri (Bottas) won, there wasn’t an ounce of me that was like ‘damn it he won…. But this is how it should be.”

Hamilton, who has changed his fitness coaching arrangements and now plans his own schedule between races without a trainer, conceded that he found himself fighting for breath at times.

“Man, these cars are so much more physical this year and this is a tough circuit,” he said.

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