ABU DHABI, Nov 22 ― Toto Wolff hopes to see his champion Mercedes team deliver a “great show for the fans” at this weekend's season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Mercedes team chief, who has overseen Lewis Hamilton's memorable fifth title triumph and the Silver Arrows' fifth consecutive constructors' championship, said he felt humbled by the celebrations last week, but also determined to continue setting the pace.
“The celebrations in Brixworth and Brackley were a very humbling experience,” the Austrian said. “Claiming the fifth consecutive double championship ― an experience that very few people in the sport have ever had ― felt amazing. We cherished that moment.
“At the same, time everyone is keen to continue to raise the bar together and be even stronger in 2019. For now, we have one race to go in 2018 and we want to put on a great show for the fans who supported us this season, be it at the track, in front of their TV or on social media.
“The pressure is off so this is one race where we can really for broke.”
The prospect of five-time champion Hamilton and his team-mate Valtteri Bottas battling for victory against the Ferrari and Red Bull teams at a track where Mercedes have been unbeaten in the modern turbo-hybrid era is tantalising.
But the Yas Marina circuit has only rarely delivered thrills, even if the racing under floodlights has always looked a dazzling spectacle.
Whatever happens in the race, for many the weekend is likely to be more memorable for two-time champion Fernando Alonso's farewell to Formula One and Kimi Raikkonen's last foray with Ferrari before he moves to Sauber in a swap that sees Charles Leclerc going the other way.
A victory for the 39-year-old Finn would be also a first at the track for Ferrari as Abu Dhabi celebrates its 10th hosting of the event.
Alonso, who has won the Monaco Grand Prix and the Le Mans 24-Hours race, is departing to concentrate on adding the Indianapolis 500, the third element of the motorsports triple crown.
“I've won more races than I dreamed of when I came here,” said Alonso, 37. “I've ticked this box. I need to find another box to fill with another tick now.”
As the season ends, amid reports that Pole Robert Kubica has been recruited, aged 33, to race for Williams next season after completing a remarkable recovery from injury, there is sure to be a festive atmosphere with parties up and down the pit lane.
Daniel Ricciardo, who is leaving Red Bull for Renault, will be planning to ruin the celebrations at Mercedes and Ferrari by marking his 150th race with a victory. ― AFP