With Valtteri Bottas winning and Lewis Hamilton third, Mercedes made history at Suzuka on Sunday as they became only the second team in history to win six straight constructors’ titles, while at the same time ensuring that only Hamilton or Bottas can be crowned 2019 drivers’ champion. That means they’re now guaranteed to become the first team ever to secure six straight championship doubles – an achievement Silver Arrows Team Principal Toto Wolff was quick to dedicate to late team member Niki Lauda.
“We want to dedicate this to Niki because he’s just been such an important part from the beginning of the journey and his sheer presence was always so important and the mixture between support and pressure, he was just a very special person,” said Wolff of the three-time world champion who passed away in May, and had served as non-executive chairman of Mercedes throughout this golden period.
“When we embarked on the journey six or seven years ago we wanted to win races more regularly and then fight for a championship. And then six years later it’s the sixth championship in a row.
“I feel so happy for everybody that is involved and lots of hard work behind the scenes, lots of pain, painful moments also but the team was always able to pick themselves up.
Ferrari had previously been the only team to win six straight constructors’ titles, doing so between 1999 and 2004. Matching that, Wolff said, had taken a big toll.
“The pressure’s enormous because you can say ‘ok you’re fighting at the front’ but the truth is you’re setting your own bar very high and your own expectations and then not meeting those expectations is extremely painful, you get used to it, and that’s something we are tackling.
“At the end we are learning from our painful experiences. This team has become so strong I think, because we have really been able to stand up when it didn’t go well – like this morning [in qualifying] – and that is something we need to continue to work on.”
The only question now is when Mercedes will clinch the drivers’ title too, with Lewis Hamilton in pole position to do so, holding a 64-point lead over Bottas with four races to go.