After securing his fifth constructors' title as team principal of Mercedes on Sunday, Toto Wolff has labelled his team's 2018 campaign as its toughest yet.
Mercedes wrapped up the constructors' championship at Interlagos following Lewis Hamilton's tenth victory of the season and Valtteri Bottas' fifth-place finish. Going into Brazil, title rivals Ferrari had to outscore Mercedes by 13 points to take the fight to the season finale in Abu Dhabi, but could only manage third and sixth -- losing 12 points to Mercedes overall.
Unlike in previous seasons, especially at the start of the V6 hybrid era, when Mercedes held a significant performance advantage over the rest of the field, in 2018, Mercedes has more often than not been matched for pace by Ferrari. The challenge from Ferrari -- and in recent races from Red Bull -- makes this latest triumph all the more special for team boss Wolff.
"Yes. It was the most difficult and that's why the relief now is the most I've ever felt,'' Wolff said. "We had such a horrible race today, with the perfect end result with Lewis winning and us winning the constructors' championship but I can tell you mid-race, we had the information power unit failure imminent on Lewis' car. And the guys in the background and the HPP guys fixed it. God knows how you can fix hardware that is just about to break and make the car finish. That race was just a nightmare until the chequered flag came down. And everything broke loose.''
Mercedes' latest triumph means it has now won five consecutive constructors' championship -- just one short of Ferrari's record of six in a row between 1999 to 2004. Wolff admits Mercedes' achievements since 2014 are beyond his ''wildest dreams''.
"This year I think you could see there were phases where we seemed to have the upper hand, then it was Ferrari again and then at the end Red Bull joined the club,'' Wolff added. "Every time you guys said 'Well this is a home run now and you've clearly found the silver bullet' the next race proved to be very difficult. We said you need to be cautious because this has gone both ways throughout the season and this is why this championship feels best because we had a hell of a fight on our hands throughout the season with Ferrari, a fantastic team and an amazing brand. Being able to win a fifth consecutive championship is something we wouldn't have dreamt of six years ago.
"In our wildest dreams that wouldn't have come to my mind. Equaling a Ferrari record that seemed unachievable is something I feel so grateful and fortunate to be in this team. Because I can remember before I joined Formula One those Ferrari years and Jean [Todt] at the helm and Michael [Schumacher] and many others that contributed to the team's success. That was something that I really looked up to and admired, and us having achieved that, you just have to say a thousand times thank you to all the team members, and generally we need to feel grateful to be in that fortunate position."