MEXICO CITY -- Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was an anxious spectator during the Mexican Grand Prix after watching Lewis Hamilton demoted from second place to last on the opening lap.
A collision with title rival Sebastian Vettel at Turn 3 saw Hamilton suffer a puncture and extensive damage to the diffuser of his car as Max Verstappen emerged unscathed and sprinted away to victory. Hamilton fought back from 19th to ninth -- enough to secure the championship as Vettel could only manage fourth -- but it was not the championship coronation Hamilton had hoped for.
"I hated every bit of the race!" Wolff said. "As expected, Max knew that there was a lot at stake for Sebastian and Lewis. Sebastian knew that the only chance he had was to win the race, and suddenly Lewis found himself -- he was a little bit careful -- but he found himself in the middle of the pack and then with an opportunity to dive into the lead of the race.
"The consequence was the incident. My first thought at that stage was 'keep calm, settle, understand the situation and then take it from there'."
Asked if it mattered that Hamilton secured his fourth title while being a lap down, Wolff said: "Who cares? It's about the result.
"He was lapped because he got crashed into. It's completely irrelevant and the race result today is irrelevant for the championship and I'm happy for how it ended, because Sebastian needed to finish second and with Max winning and Valtteri [Bottas] second we knew that we have a bit of a buffer."