Toto Wolff has detailed the differing emotions when comparing George Russell's Brazilian GP win to the victories of their dominant seasons.
Following a difficult start to the campaign, Mercedes were threatening to complete an entire F1 season without victory, until Russell's remarkable win at Interlagos prevented a first winless season since 2011.
Speaking in the Mercedes Season Debrief, Mercedes boss Wolff believed that their Sprint and Grand Prix victories in Sao Paulo validated the car concept and proved more pace could be extracted from it.
"I think it is, in a way, the perfect storm [of things going wrong], because what I said is within four months, you're not taking a stupid pills and suddenly becoming totally incompetent when you won a championship in December, and then you hit the ground in March, and the car is much slower," said Wolff.
"We were able to get it much better in Austin, Mexico was a was a positive surprise, and then Brazil was where we absolutely won on merit, pretty much ahead in every single session, [with] two race victories, quickest lap, [and finishing] one-and-two.
"For me, the learning is more important for next year than winning a race, I think was a good proof for us that there is inherent pace in the car."
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Wolff: We became used to winning
Mercedes' slow start to the season meant they initially struggled for podium positions, but fought back to challenge early frontrunners Ferrari for second place in the Constructors' Championship.
Mercedes Technical Director Mike Elliott cited Niki Lauda, the former F1 World Champion who was Mercedes' Non-Executive Chairman until his passing in 2019, as an inspiration for their recovery efforts.
"I think as Niki used to say 'you learn more from failure than you do from success', and this has been a massive learning year for us," commented Elliott.
"It was really interesting to me to see the reaction that we had after Brazil. It was huge, it almost felt like we'd won a World Championship, and we've won one race.
"You look at some of the seasons we've had previously and you think 'it's just one race', but I think that sort of showed me the level of passion in the organisation."
Wolff agreed with Elliott's comments on the reaction to the Brazil win, and added that he found the victory "fulfilling", despite the team's familiarity with success.
"For me, it's like having eight Christmas evenings in a row, the eighth time is not going to be as exciting like the first time," added Wolff.
"I remember saying 'okay, this was another race victory, good, we're very happy, we performed well, we debriefed like it was our first', but I think it's human nature that you kind of become used to it.
"That's why bouncing back in Brazil and seeing the emotions of the team. I had so much pride. It's interesting to look at ourselves and see that it is an emotion that I haven't seen coming.
"It's tremendously fulfilling in a way, although it was one race victory, and we finished third in the constructor championship, we weren't really on pace with the others, but it is another piece of the jigsaw [for us] to eventually come back and fight at the very front."
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