A defiant Toto Wolff hopes to see Mercedes bounce back from their double disappointment in Austria and “blow everybody away” by dominating at Silverstone.
But realistically, the Mercedes boss knows his team face a sizeable task even just to get the better of Red Bull in the British Grand Prix next time out.
The Austrian double-header went like clockwork for Max Verstappen, who enjoyed two consecutive serene victories to extend his Drivers’ World Championship lead over title-holder Lewis Hamilton to 32 points.
Red Bull are now 44 ahead in the Constructors’ standings, with Mercedes having fallen off the pace and neither Austrian Grand Prix runner-up Valtteri Bottas nor Hamilton, who started and finished fourth, had any answer to another majestic Verstappen performance.
Mercedes now have just under two weeks to address their issues before the British Grand Prix, which will take place in front of a capacity crowd and also feature the debut of F1’s new sprint qualifying format.
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) July 4, 2021
“The result looks, I think, worse in terms of pace than we were,” Wolff told Sky F1, putting a brave face on a race in which Hamilton, who suffered damage to his car caused by running over kerbs, was denied a podium placing by McLaren’s Lando Norris.
“We were stuck behind the McLaren and I think in pace we probably could have been there – maybe not enough to win the race but right there, which is a step forward.
“Overall, I think damage limitation maybe. I think we will go to Silverstone and blow everybody away, finish one and two, 30 seconds in advance of everybody else.”
The last comment was obviously tongue-in-cheek and Wolff is fully aware results like that do not just happen by magic, knowing plenty of work will be needed to turn things around from a lap-time deficit of around 0.25sec per lap to Red Bull in Austria.
“Here is quite a short lap, so two-and-a-half tenths makes a lot of difference,” added the 49-year-old. “Silverstone is maybe a bit different. It’s a little step and every little step counts, so we need to make that work.
“We could see that the improvement from last week to here in terms of race pace was actually understanding the car a little bit more. There are more clues we have unearthed and I think we will progress and eventually be in the race again.
“I’m always a sceptical person and half empty than half full, but if you see it from the half-full perspective to build ourselves up, we are one DNF away from being right there in the Constructors’ and the Drivers’ Championships, so this is far from over.
“Morale is good, but we have to be working on these feelings actively because if you come from a run of seven World Championship titles, everything looks like a defeat whatever result you have. We finished second and fourth, it’s not the end of the world.
“You can see how happy the McLaren guys are about their position and I think we need to recognise this is a tough championship, the Formula 1 World Championship, and you can’t expect every single year to cruise away into the sunset. We will do everything needed to make Red Bull not do exactly that.”