Mercedes aiming for ‘consolidation not championships’

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Mercedes will not allow their improving position in the championship to divert attention from their plans for the future, according to executive director Toto Wolff.

Mercedes have won three of the last five races and closed to within 69 points of constructors’ championship leaders Red Bull. Lewis Hamilton is 48 points behind Sebastian Vettel in the drivers’ championship.

But Wolff cautioned against becoming too preoccupied with this year’s championship:

“If half a year ago we would have talked about championship opportunities in the drivers’ or constructors’ championship it would have been absolutely crazy,” Wolff told Autosport.

“If you look at our competitors they have been able to perform at the top in a sustainable way. That is what we need to achieve – consolidation should be the agenda for the second half of the year, not looking at the championships.”

Last week Nico Rosberg admitted he was “in two minds” over whether Mercedes should try to make the most of the strong position they find themselves in at the moment or invest more time in their preparations for 2014 when a wholesale change in the technical regulations offers a better opportunity for them to get on terms with the likes of Red Bull. Rosberg is a further 40 points behind team mate Hamilton in the championship.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).