Toto Wolff hailed Lewis Hamilton’s “superhero powers” after the reigning world champion steered his Mercedes to a masterful victory at the Qatar Grand Prix.
Hamilton led from lights to flag at the Losail International Circuit to beat Max Verstappen into second place and move to within eight points of his main title rival.
There are just two races remaining – a debut in Saudi Arabia and a return to Abu Dhabi – and Hamilton has now taken victory in Brazil and here at the inaugural race in Doha to build momentum.
Caption this. 😂 pic.twitter.com/qcTL9wKvRJ
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) November 21, 2021
The win in Brazil came after Verstappen and Hamilton had come close to making contact, the Dutchman escaping punishment for the incident despite an appeal for a right to review from Mercedes which rumbled into this race weekend.
Hamilton himself had been excluded from qualifying and demoted to the back of the grid for the sprint race in Sao Paulo.
However, two heroic drives saw him leave Brazil with a much-needed victory in his bid for continued world domination.
“I think when adversity happens then it takes him to a place where he is able to mobilise superhero powers and it was the adversity that triggered that in Interlagos,” Wolff said.
“They have woken up the lion on the Saturday in Interlagos, he is absolutely on it and brutal. He’s cold-blooded and on it, this is the best Lewis we have seen in the past and he is right there.
“I never stopped believing this was on. Anyone in the team refuses to give up and I am grateful with how the championship has gone.
“I hope it goes all the way to the end and whoever wins will deserve to win.”
If Hamilton is currently channelling his inner Superman to retain the crown then Red Bull boss Christian Horner is fast becoming the villain of the piece.
Having exchanged barbs with Wolff when the pair were asked about the incident in Brazil, he also hit out at the level of marshalling after Verstappen was handed a five-place grid penalty for not sufficiently slowing for double-waved yellow flags during qualifying.
That relegated him from second to seventh on the grid, with Horner telling Sky Sports F1 before the race: “It’s a rogue marshal that stuck out a flag. He wasn’t told to do so. This is a crucial blow in the world championship. It is massive.”
Those words landed Horner in hot water with the FIA – the stewards summoning the 48-year-old to answer questions about his views.
“Obviously following the penalty made this morning I made a comment on one of the broadcasters that I thought there had been a rouge marshal wave the yellow flag and the stewards took offence to that,” he said.
“So I just reassured them that no offence was made or intended with the individual, it was more frustrating with the circumstances having three or four cars pass the same car.
“So it was an explanation of that, I think the apology was accepted and I would like to make it clear it wasn’t pointed at the marshal, they do a wonderful job throughout the world and without marshals there wouldn’t be motorsport. It was frustration but something has to be done.”