Mercedes Formula 1 chief Toto Wolff says missing the Brazilian Grand Prix was a test to see how he could “cope mentally” by releasing the reins of running the team on the ground.

Wolff skipped last race at Interlagos two weeks ago to remain in Europe, missing his first grand prix in more than five years.

Mercedes technical director James Allison took charge of the team for the Brazil weekend as Lewis Hamilton finished seventh following a penalty, while Valtteri Bottas retired due to an engine issue.

Wolff returned for the season finale in Abu Dhabi, telling Sky Sports on Friday following practice he was “raring to go again” after completing cutting himself off from the team to see how he would manage.

“I had no link. The experience was more for me, to see how I could cope mentally not being there, and I’m happy with my mental health actually,” Wolff said.

“I barely WhatsApp-ed, I spoke between the sessions but not during the sessions, so I enjoyed the experience.”

Asked if he had an urge to get involved with the team, Wolff said: “I actually didn’t have the urge. I have so much trust in the guys, and confidence, that at no point I felt the need to call or say something. Maybe at the end of the race.

“I was actually impressed by the level of some of my competitors of what they said. From a fan perspective, it’s interesting to see the build-up. You never get to watch this.”

Wolff joked that he had told the Mercedes team that "things were back in order" with his drivers sitting P1 and P2 in second practice - before Bottas clashed with Romain Grosjean while trying to overtake.

"It's unfortunate, lots of damage on the Haas, also for us. I think Valtteri made that move on Gasly a few laps before," Wolff said.

"For me, I don’t get those consecutive lap things that everyone seems to be blocking everybody. But Valtteri certainly came from far back. I think the majority of responsibility on us.

"I think we were much faster. He probably thought Grosjean realised that too, and would have left the door open, but yeah."

 

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