Lewis Hamilton responds to Toto Wolff’s brutal ’13-year’ low Mercedes verdict

Jamie Woodhouse
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and team boss Toto Wolff

Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff in conversation in the Mercedes garage.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff went as far as to brand their Brazilian Grand Prix performance “the worst in 13 years” and Lewis Hamilton can see where he is coming from.

While Mercedes picked up their sole victory of the season at the 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix, the return visit was a horror show, tyre wear issues and a lack of straight-line speed seeing Hamilton and George Russell drop down the order in racing action.

Hamilton ultimately finished the Grand Prix in P8, while Russell was forced to retire due to power unit temperature issues.

Lewis Hamilton admits Brazil GP among Mercedes’ worst

Wolff was scathing in his criticism of Mercedes after the race, branding it a 13-year low, stretching all the way back to when they returned to the F1 grid in 2010.

Both he and Hamilton have been with the team since 2013, and while Hamilton cannot remember every race since, he does not think his boss is far wrong.

Asked by media ahead of the Las Vegas Grand Prix whether he agreed with Wolff that Brazil was Mercedes’ worst performance, Hamilton replied: “I have the worst memory, so I don’t really remember them all, it definitely felt like one of the worst.

“But we just got the car in the wrong place. There is potential obviously in the car, we had two really great races before. We just had it in the wrong window and that’s on all of us.

“But we’ve learned from it and experiences like that you learn more than the loss, so it’s painful for everybody, but everybody’s recovered, we’re back in the factory the next week, everyone’s massively motivated to finish off strong this season and I have no doubts that we can.”

Asked if that means the team now know what went so horribly wrong in Brazil, Hamilton responded: “Yeah, we know exactly what it was.

“I knew exactly what it was already.”

PlanetF1.com recommends

F1 2023: Head-to-head qualifying and race stats between team-mates

F1 driver contracts: What is the current contract status of every driver on the 2023 grid?

Mercedes had just started to build up some momentum with back-to-back P2 finishes in Austin and Mexico, only the latter result standing after excessive plank wear on the Mercedes saw Hamilton disqualified in Austin.

It is safe to say Brazil was a far greater hit to that momentum, but Hamilton is looking at it in a positive light, suggesting that last year’s Brazil victory gave them a false sense of security over their ‘zero-pod’ concept, which they decided to scrap after the 2023 season-opener in Bahrain.

Pressed on whether Brazil gave Mercedes a reminder of the work ahead, Hamilton said: “I mean, I don’t know if they needed necessarily reminding of how much work needs to be done, but there’s always good things to take from a difficult weekend like that.

“And definitely when you have those sorts of kicks, it puts things into perspective.

“I definitely think with last year, end of season we had that win and whilst it was a real big lift for the team, maybe it made us think that we were going to be better moving on to next year.

“So I’m actually grateful for the experience, because the guys still know that we are still not as close as we would like to think, meaning that we have to work harder and we just have to do a better job all-round.

“But no one in the team is under any illusions, so we realise that we’ve got a steep mountain to climb.”

Two rounds remain in F1 2023, with Formula 1 now basking in the glitz and glamour of its return to Las Vegas.

Ultimately though, it comes down to the on-track stuff, with Hamilton hoping that Mercedes will be stronger here on a less technical track.

“Definitely more than the last one,” said Hamilton of his confidence in Mercedes’ performance for Las Vegas.

“Still, I think it’s going to be a challenge and getting the tyres working this weekend. We’re often not necessarily the quickest on the straights, so that’ll be a challenge to see if we can not lose too much on the straights, but keep up with everyone in the corners.

“But, it’s not the most technical of circuits. So hopefully, that makes it a little bit easier.”

The Las Vegas GP kicks-off a double header to conclude the season, with the final round taking place in Abu Dhabi.

Read next: Max Verstappen’s rivals want a ‘Singapore type’ race but fear a ‘Monza’