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Toto Wolff at Mexico City Grand Prix

Wolff: ‘I’m just lacking words’ as he reflects on ‘inexcusable performance’ at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix 

Toto Wolff has admitted that Mercedes needs to "push for the last two races" as they attempt to recover their positive form

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Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff has looked back on an “inexcusable performance” for Mercedes as Wolff described the Brackley-based team’s 2023 challenger as a “miserable thing”.

Lewis Hamilton Mercedes at Sao Paulo Grand Prix
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – NOVEMBER 5: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team F1W14 during the F1 Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 5, 2023 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Vince Mignott/MB Media/Getty Images)
An underwhelming race for Mercedes

The Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell had already had a disappointing start to the weekend following Hamilton’s success last time out at the Mexico City Grand Prix, as they had failed to challenge for the front row of the grid in Friday’s Qualifying session.

Hamilton started the race in fifth, and Russell began in eighth, but after a first-lap crash which brought out a red flag, the British pair took third and sixth on the grid for the restart.

Tyre wear had been an issue for the Silver Arrows all weekend, with them suffering in Saturday’s sprint race. Mercedes’s struggle with their tyre wear continued into the Grand Prix as both drivers could not get traction coming out of the corners leading to them plummeting down the order.

However, it got worse for Mercedes as seven-time World Champion, Hamilton was overtaken by the Alpine of Pierre Gasly to demote him to his finishing position of eighth. Meanwhile, Russell was forced into an early retirement 12 laps to the end with a power unit issue.

Wolff spoke about his views on Mercedes’s performance in Sao Paulo, as he claimed the eight-time Constructors’ Champions need to develop better for next year.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Wolff said:

“Inexcusable performance, there are even no words for that. That car finished second last week and the week before. And whatever we did to it was horrible.

“Lewis survived out there. But, George, I can only feel for the two driving such a miserable thing.

“It shows how difficult the car is, it’s on a knife’s edge. We’ve got to develop that better for next year.

“Because it can’t be that within seven days, you’re finishing on the podium with probably one of the two quickest cars and then finish eighth.”

What was the issue for Mercedes in Brazil?

Mercedes are yet to win a race this season; if they fail to make it to the top step of the podium, it will be the first time since 2011. Now, with two high-speed circuits to end the season in Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi, the odds of them completing this unwanted record are increasing.

The Mercedes W14 seemed to be lacking on pace in a straight line as Sky Sports Pundit Martin Brundle described the car as having a “parachute” behind it.

The Austrian confirmed that straight-line speed was an issue for them in the race but claimed it wasn’t the main issue.

“I think straight line speed was one issue, but probably not the main factor,” said Wolff.

“The main factor was that we couldn’t go around the corners with a bigger wing with the pace we needed, and we were killing the tyres, just eating them up within a few laps.

“But still, that doesn’t explain what goes what went wrong. I mean, that car almost drove like on three wheels and not four.

“I think we need to push for the last two races and recover, I think that’s the most important thing and see what we can do in Las Vegas, a totally different track and Abu Dhabi.

“But the performance today was – I’m just lacking words.”

No back-to-back wins for Russell

Russell, who won the race in 2022, could not continue his winning form at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace as he was forced into an early retirement. The Mercedes Team Principal elaborated on the issue.

“George’s issue was the power unit at the end, we were over all metrics on cooling,” Wolff revealed.

“It was the last race of the PU, but it is what it is. I’m not sure if we would have finished with the point or not. That’s the lesser problem”.

Hamilton’s view on the race

Hamilton’s hopes of closing the gap to Sergio Perez in the Drivers’ Championship for second were hampered by the increased tyre wear and lack of straight-line speed as Perez gained eight points over the Brit courtesy of the Mexican’s fourth-place finish.

The Stevenage-born driver admitted that he believed the Grand Prix went much better than the sprint race. However, he also claimed that his Mercedes is too “inconsistent” throughout a lap.

In a post race interview with Sky Sports, Hamilton said:

“It didn’t feel as disastrous as yesterday, yesterday I literally had no tyres left; they were worn to zero.

“I feel like I drove a better race today in terms of managing the tyres to the best of my ability. But the car, there’s moments it works and moments it doesn’t, and it’s so inconsistent through the lap.

“So we have to figure out what that is. Then also we are really slow on the straights and at least sliding the car through the corners.

“So yeah, one to forget, but hopefully there’s lots of learnings from today.”


Featured Image Credit: Dan Istitene – Formula 1 via Getty Images

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