Wolff: Focus now on two clean races for Mercedes

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has heaped praise on his team after ensuring that one of its drivers will win the 2014 Formula 1 drivers’ championship in Austin yesterday.

Although it has been clear for many months that the only drivers with a realistic chance of winning the title were Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo had mathematically been in contention from third in the standings.

However, following Hamilton’s win at the United States Grand Prix yesterday, Ricciardo is now unable to deny Mercedes its first drivers’ championship since 1955.

“Today, we ensured that only a Mercedes-Benz driver can win the 2014 drivers’ title, and that is an incredible achievement for the whole team, regardless of whether Lewis or Nico comes out on top in Abu Dhabi,” Wolff said after the race.

“It was a very strong race from both of them: each had the pace to win and the decisive laps came at the start of the second stint, when Nico was suffering of too much understeer on the prime tire and Lewis was able to catch and then overtake him on lap 24.”

Wolff said that the 10th one-two finish of the year paid testament to the great team effort at Brackley this year, but said that the focus must now lie on keeping the racing clean and both cars running properly.

“It was fantastic to see the tenth one-two finish for the team,” he said. “That is record-equalling and shows the amazing job everybody in this team has done this year.

“Now we need to get our heads down and work to ensure two clean races on the sporting and reliability front in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.”

With a 24-point lead, Hamilton is unable to wrap up the championship in Brazil as he could have without the controversial double points rule for the final race in Abu Dhabi. However, after five straight wins, the Briton is in the form of his life, leaving Rosberg requiring an almighty turnaround in fortunes to claim a maiden world title.

Five things to watch for in Bommarito Auto Group 500 at Gateway

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There have been five different winners in the last five weeks of the NTT IndyCar season and driver that kicked off that streak in Elkhart Lake is in desperate need of a victory to help close the points gap to the leader. After being involved in the Lap 1 accident at Pocono Raceway last week, Alexander Rossi sits 35 points behind Josef Newgarden. Rossi’s two victories this season have come on road courses.

This week’s Bommarito Auto Group 500 the World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway is the third race on this track since IndyCar first revisited it in 2017. Newgarden took the checkers in 2017; Will Power grabbed the glory last year. Gateway also hosted races from 2001-2003.

Here are some of the storylines to watch this Sunday:

  1. For most of the drivers in the field, this will mark only their third time to race at Gateway, but two drivers were around in 2003 when IndyCar visited this track previously. Scott Dixon finished 15th in that race. He found the handle when Indy returned in 2017 to finish second and then third last year. Tony Kanaan was second in 2003; unfortunately he went the other direction and has not scored a top-10 at Gateway since.
  2. If one is looking for perfection on this track type, Simon Pagenaud is the only driver to sweep the top 10 on ovals in the past two years. In his last 10 starts on them, he has garnered an average finish of 5.2; his last five attempts have been sixth or better including a win in this year’s Indy 500. Pagenaud finished third at Gateway in 2017 and was fourth last year.
  3. The top two drivers in the points standings should also challenge for a top-five this week. Rossi was perfect alongside Pagenaud on ovals until his accident last week at Pocono with a sweep of the top 10 and seven top-fives in his last nine races. Newgarden also has nine top-10s and a worst of 13th on ovals in the past two years.
  4. Don’t count Dixon out of the points battle yet. While he currently sits 52 points out of first, Dixon is the hottest driver on the circuit with a current streak of five top-fives to his credit including his victory at Mid-Ohio two weeks ago. His oval record is a little spottier with two runner-up finishes and two 17th-place finishes in the last four races.
  5. Last week’s first-lap carnage ended Rossi’s top-10 streak at seven, but one other driver was able to sneak through and extend his. Graham Rahal will vie for his ninth consecutive top-10 this week, but that success is questionable in light of his Gateway record. Rahal finished 12th in 2017 and was barely able to crack the top 10 in 10th last year.

See More: IndyCar championship contenders seeing fortunes rise and drop

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