'Extraordinary' Lewis Hamilton integral to Mercedes' five straight titles, says Toto Wolff

Mercedes could not have claimed five Formula One constructors’ championships in a row if it were not for Lewis Hamilton, according to team boss Toto Wolff.

The German manufacturer continued its recent run of dominance by securing another title in Brazil, meaning it will go into 2019 aiming to match Ferrari’s record of six in a row won between 1999 and 2004. Wolff has already admitted this year was the team’s “most difficult” of the V6 turbo era given the intense challenge of Ferrari for much of the season.

Hamilton joined Mercedes in 2013 the year before the new engines were introduced with just a single championship to his name — he’s now claimed four more of his own, accumulating 51 victories for Mercedes and counting in the process. Wolff paid tribute to the Englishman after the team’s recent success.

When asked if the team could have won so many in a row without Hamilton, Wolff said: “No, we wouldn’t have won five championships.

“He’s an extraordinary driver and an unbelievable personality, human is the right word, and therefore he has been an integral part of the team.

“He’s at the forefront of the car. There are many other exceptional people who have contributed to the success but clearly it wouldn’t have gone without him and it wouldn’t have gone without others either.”

Wolff also praised the contribution made by Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, and pointed out that the Finn’s bad luck earlier in the year forced him into the supporting role he was in for most of the second half of the season.

“Valtteri’s contribution was enormous. Until the Baku incident where he lost 25 points he was properly in the fight for the championship. Since then it has gone against him and he’s kept his dignity and played a big role in supporting the team without losing his stature as a racing driver and as a racing driver that can win.

“I think it’s an enormous mental struggle to know that you can’t win anymore and you need to support your teammate, and he’s achieved that. I think he will come back strong next year and will give Lewis and all the others a run for their money.”