Wolff downbeat over outclassed Mercedes

Formula One team’s boss says they need to find solutions to improve their below-par car

AFP August 29, 2022


A gloomy but realistic Toto Wolff on Sunday warned Mercedes again after another disappointing performance saw them outclassed by Red Bull and Max Verstappen at the Belgian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes team boss said they should not be satisfied with their weekend's work and that the team had to concentrate on finding solutions to the inconsistent results of their capricious car.

"I don't think we can be satisfied with this weekend - if you see Verstappen, he has leaped above us all," said Wolff.

"We really need to find out how we can improve our car because the gap is just too big.

"We're giving the drivers a very difficult car to drive – and it hasn't got the pace on a single lap so we need to work ourselves out of this situation."

On Saturday, he said Mercedes' performance in qualifying was "unacceptable".

Wolff was downbeat after seeing seven-times champion Lewis Hamilton forced to retire on the opening lap after a collision with Fernando Alonso of Alpine before George Russell drove a forceful and steady race to finish fourth.

In qualifying, Hamilton had been the fastest Mercedes driver, but was 1.8 seconds off the pace set by Verstappen who started 14th on the grid, after taking a penalty, yet won convincingly ahead of his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez.

"Over the next four days, we'll be putting our heads together, setting our sights on the next race and also next season," said Wolff.

"It's important we stay level-headed, keep our spirits up and don't flip too much between elation and depression.

"This weekend is a low, but in Hungary three weeks ago, we were thinking we will absolutely win a race, so we'll never give up."

Russell admitted he had mixed feelings after missing out on claiming a podium finish.

He said: "Had you told me last night we will be two seconds off the podium on merit and pure pace, I'd have said that's a good recovery.

"When I was closing in on Carlos Sainz at the end, a second a lap, I thought here we go - we're in for a really good shot here, but then I just had two really scrappy laps and got the tyres out of the window."

He added that he felt Mercedes had been equal with Ferrari for race pace, after a poor qualifying.

"But what is clear is that Max is cruising away at the moment."