Mercedes secured their first double podium of this season in France, but Toto Wolff admits from his “half empty glass perspective” they are still woefully off the pace.
Lewis Hamilton brought his W13 home second at the Paul Ricard circuit with George Russell beating Sergio Perez to the final podium position in a late-race tussle.
The result, though, is more flattering than the performance.
Hamilton was never in contention for the victory. Although there was a short stint where he did eek into Verstappen’s lead, the Red Bull driver responded by pulling away with seeming ease.
Hamilton’s second was also fortuitous, the Briton elevated up the order when Charles Leclerc crashed out of the lead.
As such Wolff concedes Mercedes are not there yet.
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 24, 2022
“I think he [Hamilton] was able to stabilise the gap at five or six seconds in the first stint, but you need to be honest and say when they were racing each other in the second stint, probably Max was just keeping it on the track,” the Mercedes motorsport boss told Motorsport.com.
“So in my half empty glass perspective, there is still a lot of lap time to catch up.
“I think with every lap, we collect more data and understand a little bit, so we’re putting the little pieces of the puzzle together.
“It’s a process that’s sometimes difficult.”
Sometimes also painful as Mercedes discovered in Saturday’s qualifying.
Hamilton finished Q3 in fourth place but was almost nine-tenths down on pole-sitter Leclerc, the seven-time World Champion surprised by the gap after doing what he considered to a good lap.
Wolff called it a “slap in the face”.
The team boss acknowledges that Mercedes are still lacking in many areas.
“It’s simply not one thing: we’re lacking performance on a single lap and we are lacking performance at the initial stages of the stint,” he said.
“There is something to understand and it’s not a silver bullet but it’s a few topics that they roll in to our performance. Second and third is a good result but we work tirelessly to win and there is still a gap.”
Where do Mercedes go from here?
Mercedes seem to still be as far away from the front as they were at the start of the year in qualifying, so what happens now for them?