Lewis Hamilton is making ‘exceptional’ the new normal, says Mercedes boss Toto Wolff

The Mercedes driver made an impressive performance look like a routine drive at the Algarve International Circuit

<p>Toto Wolff praised Lewis Hamilton for driving an ‘immaculate race’</p>

Toto Wolff praised Lewis Hamilton for driving an ‘immaculate race’

Lewis Hamilton’s impressive performances are being repeated with such regularity that Mercedes boss Toto Wolff now believes “exceptional” is the new normal for Britain’s seven-time world champion.

The Mercedes driver delivered another mighty display in the Algarve on Sunday to race past championship rival Max Verstappen and team-mate Valtteri Bottas and win for a second time this season.

He will head into this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix with an eight-point advantage over Red Bull’s Verstappen in his quest for an eighth world crown.

Nico Rosberg, the only name other than Hamilton’s on Formula One’s championship trophy in the last seven seasons, called his former rival’s drive “phenomenal”.

And Wolff, who has overseen Hamilton’s remarkable run of success at Mercedes, said: “We had a good car but Lewis just drove an immaculate race.

“It makes no sense to talk about these exceptional Lewis performances because they have been quite regular. It is his standard now and he sets that standard to himself.”

Verstappen may well be ruing another missed opportunity. He might have started on pole but for running wide at the fourth corner in qualifying.

Another wobble in the race enabled Hamilton to close in and pass him on lap 11 of 66, while he also failed to obtain a bonus point after exceeding track limits in a late salvo to claim the fastest lap.

Verstappen was quick to offer Hamilton his congratulations in the immediate aftermath of their third showdown this year, but Wolff has followed rival team principal Christian Horner in predicting the niceties might not last.

In an interview with the PA news agency, Horner said: “It wouldn’t be unpredictable to say something could happen between the two of them.”

And following Hamilton’s 97th win, Wolff added: “Lewis and Max are not crossing the line on the track yet because the risk of losing points is just too big. But it is going to go head-to-head and certainly the rivalry may increase.

“However, I see Lewis completely relaxed about the situation. He enjoys working with the team and getting us up to speed because we were not there at the start of the season.”

PA

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